Pope Francis General Audience works as his defense of TC

This general audience by Pope Francis has comments which seem to apply to the present conflict between himself and the traditionalists who reject Traditionis Custodes.

“Faced with such a great gift to the Galatians, the Apostle cannot explain why they might think of accepting another “gospel”, perhaps more sophisticated, more intellectual, I don’t know … but another “gospel”. It should be noted, however, that these Christians have not yet abandoned the Gospel announced by Paul. The Apostle knows that they are still in time not to take a false step, but he warns them strongly, very strongly. His first argument points directly to the fact that the preaching carried out by the new missionaries – those who bring novelty, who preach – cannot be the Gospel. On the contrary, it is a proclamation that distorts the true Gospel because it prevents them from attaining the freedom acquired by arriving at faith – this is the key word, isn’t it? – it prevents them from reaching the freedom acquired by coming to faith. The Galatians are still “beginners” and their disorientation is understandable. They do not yet know the complexities of the Mosaic Law and their enthusiasm in embracing faith in Christ leads them to listen to these new preachers, deluding themselves that their message is complementary to Paul’s. And it is not.

My comments: Are the critics of TC and the supporters of the TLM offering novelty? Yes, in a sense they are. They call it tradition, but many persons are attracted to the TLM because of its novelty as compared to the rest of the Church and of society. Then when Francis refers to the Galatians wishing to continue the Mosaic Law, that is a reference to traditionalists wishing to keep to the past, and reject the present.

“However, the Apostle, cannot risk compromises on such decisive ground. The Gospel is only one and that is what he proclaimed; there can be no other. Beware! Paul does not say that the true Gospel is his because it was he who announced it, no! He does not say this. This would be presumptuous, it would be boastful. Rather, he affirms that “his” Gospel, the same one that the other Apostles were proclaiming elsewhere, is the only authentic one, because it is that of Jesus Christ. He thus writes: “I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal 1:11). We can understand why Paul uses very harsh terms. Twice he uses the expression “anathema”, which indicates the need to keep far from the community that which threatens its foundations. And this new “gospel” threatens the foundations of the community. In short, on this point the Apostle leaves no room for negotiation: one cannot negotiate. With the truth of the Gospel, one cannot negotiate. Either you receive the Gospel as it is, as it was announced, or you receive any other thing. But you cannot negotiate with the Gospel. One cannot compromise. Faith in Jesus is not a bargaining chip: it is salvation, it is encounter, it is redemption. It cannot be sold off cheaply.

My Comments: Here Francis defends himself against accusations that he is being too harsh with TC. He says Paul uses very harsh terms, but the reason is to protect the community from things that threaten its foundations. And this “new” gospel of the TLM-only or the traditionalist movement is straying from the rest of the Church, is founding its own dogmas, its own disciplines, and in the end its own gospel.

“This situation described at the beginning of the Letter seems paradoxical, because all those involved seem to be animated by good feelings. The Galatians who listen to the new missionaries think that by circumcision they will be even more devoted to the will of God and thus be even more pleasing to Paul. Paul’s enemies seem to be inspired by fidelity to the tradition received from the fathers and believe that genuine faith consists in observing the Law. In the face of this supreme fidelity, they even justify their insinuations and suspicions about Paul, who is considered unorthodox with regard to tradition. The Apostle himself is well aware that his mission is of a divine nature – it was revealed by Christ Himself, to him – and therefore he is moved by total enthusiasm for the novelty of the Gospel, which is a radical novelty, not a fleeting novelty: there are no “fashionable” gospels, the Gospel is always new, it is newness. His pastoral anxiety leads him to be severe, because he sees the great risk facing young Christians. In short, in this labyrinth of good intentions it is necessary to disentangle oneself in order to grasp the supreme truth that is most consistent with the Person and preaching of Jesus and His revelation of the Father’s love. This is important: knowing how to discern. Very often we have seen throughout history, and we even see this today, some movements that preach the Gospel in their own way, sometimes with real and genuine charisms; but then they take it too far and reduce all the Gospel to a “movement”. And this is not Christ’s Gospel: this is the Gospel of the founder and yes, it may help at the beginning, but in the end it does not bear fruit with deep roots. For this reason, Paul’s clear and decisive word was salutary for the Galatians and is salutary for us too. The Gospel is Christ’s gift to us, He Himself revealed it to us. It is what gives us life. Thank you.”

My Comments: The traditionalists mistakenly think that they are more faithful by greater fidelity to the past, rather than greater fidelity to the living Magisterium. The traditionalists see themselves as the enemies of the Pope, and they justify insinuations and suspicions against Pope Francis. But Francis is well aware that his mission is divine. He will not comply with the demands of traditionalists for the novelty of the TLM. How can a Mass that has roots back to Gregory I and Pius V be novel? It is presented to the faithful today as a novelty. They are attracted to it as to something new and exciting. Similarly, liberal Catholics are attracted to the latest false teachings of secular society as something new and exciting. The elements of the TLM that are attracting new adherents are exterior and superficial. If they had been attending TLM for 50 years, perhaps they would not feel the same way. In any case, this movement which preaches the Gospel in their own way is corrupt; they have taken it too far and have reduced the fullness of the Gospel to a movement. And this is not the true Gospel, therefore Francis must be harsh with them, as Paul was with the Galatians.

Francis has used his commentary on the Galatians as a way to speak about current controversies in the Church.


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