Clare Short, author of the Catholic blog Faith in Our Families, has published an open letter to Pope Francis. She writes:
I have supported you and defended you many times this year. Even when I was unsure of exactly what it was you were saying – I always gave you the benefit of the doubt and stood up for you against those who were criticising you. However regarding your recent comments denouncing the “rigid” attached to doctrine as “Pharisees” I am sorry but with a heavy heart, I have to disagree with you:
You are correct in saying that the Pharisees of 1st Century Jerusalem were politicians. They were not interested in the spirituality of the Jewish faith in anyway shape or form. All they were interested in was satisfying their lust for power and status over the people. In this way they held God’s people in contempt. They used rules and regulations to keep people captive.
But Holy Father, don’t you understand?…
The religious politicians of the 21st century are your friends – the Walter Kasper’s and the Cormac Murphy O’Connor’s of this world. They are the ones trying to control the Family Synod. They are the ones manipulating the media. They are the ones doing deals and getting their mates into the position of Bishop to further their own political agenda, when they really, really should never have even been there (Kieran Conry). Just like the Pharisees of 1st century Jerusalem, they are primarily concerned with their own lust for power and status. They hide this behind a smoke screen of words and phrases that seem to offer salvation, but are in-fact as empty as the rules and regulations of 2000 years ago. They hold God’s people in contempt by offering them apparent solutions to the problem of sin. They do not do this by keeping them captive in rules and regulations, but instead they seek to abolish ALL rules and regulations and usher in a climate of relativism. When people perceive their sin as relative, the rules and regulations no longer apply: and consequently their sin no longer exists.
Holy Father don’t you see? The real 21st century Pharisees operate by keeping God’s people captive in their own sin.
It’s a respectful and insightful critique of the latest papal salvo against those Catholics who believe that it’s important to follow the law of the Church. It serves as a reminder that Catholics who love the pope can — and should — express their disagreement and concern with some of his statements.
The whole thing is a worth a read.