One Peter Five: Politics Trumps Theology in Filial Correction Response
What if a man, a man of eminence and of great and well-credentialed education, a man of authority, a priest, even, a man who has the ear of the Pope, told you that sometimes 2 + 2 = 5? Would this man by virtue of his lofty position be correct?
What if a small child, a wretch with no virtue of schooling, a unkempt waif, told the great man, “No, sir. 2 + 2 always equals 4, even for God, who cannot change Truth”?
Hold on! What’s this untutored child doing? Doesn’t she realize her error? She has no authority to offer a correction! Why should we listen to a kid?
Here comes Massimo Faggioli, a professor at Villanova University’s Department of Theology and Religious Studies, to help us. He says the child represents a “tiny, extreme fringe of the opposition to” to our great man. The child “is clearly not a cardinal or bishop with formal standing in the Catholic Church.”
David Gibson, who is director of Fordham University’s Center on Religion and Culture, agrees. He says the child’s attempt at a correction is “akin to an online petition”. He also says, “It’s a great headline anytime a priest is accused of error. But these kids are really, kind of, the usual suspects of really far right types who have been upset with not only this priest, but other priests in recent years.”
Even the New York Times—the New York Times!—reminds us the child is not a cardinal. And therefore her criticism is of no consequence.
We can only conclude that because our child is not an authority, and has no right to offer a correction, she is wrong. 2 + 2 does not always equal 4. It sometimes, as the priest Antonio Spadaro (for that is his name) said, can be 5, or 3, or any number he likes. The actual figure doesn’t count as long as, presumably, the solution is merciful.
If that argument makes sense to you, as it does to folks like Faggioli and Gibson and the others who are carping from the sidelines about qualifications of those who offered the Filial Correction, then you have succumbed to the idea that the Church is really about politics. That all battles are power plays, in which the side with the superior numbers or shiftier political abilities will, and should, win.
The quotes above are real, changed only slightly to shift the emphasis from the accusations of heresy for some of Pope Francis’s statements, to our imaginary child. Faggioli and Gibson are far from alone. The Twitter spokesperson for Hope & Life Press said to the Filial Correction signers scolded “You have zero authority to issue any correction whatsoever.”
There have been some amusing follow ups. Somebody at the Vatican thought it would be cute to block part of the Correction website.
While the correctiofilialis.org homepage was not blocked, reports claimed, attempts to access the sign-up form redirected to a page that read: “Access to the webpage you are trying to visit has been blocked in accord with institutional security policies.”
The Vatican has denied the claims, saying that some of the computers available for journalists and authorized personnel in the Vatican press office have filters that regulate navigation…
One of these filters, Burke explained, blocks pages “that request personal information, in order to avoid unwanted operations.”
This is why, on some of the computers in the press office, one can visit the www.correctiofilialis.org homepage and navigate within it, but not sign the correction, because “the form requires personal information.”
“The same filters are not present everywhere in the Vatican, one curial official told LifeSiteNews…” Imagine how embarrassing it would be to the Vatican if somebody inside its walls signed their name to the Correction. See? Politics, not theology.
According to a lead author, not Cardinals were included on purpose.