Monday, September 30, 2013

(II Vatican Council, 21 November 1964)

“Pope: Love over dogma”, dated 21 September 2013, thus proclaimed one of the local dailies, apparently echoing the statement of a foreign news agency in conjunction with the composite interview of Pope Francis. Irrespective of whether the quoted headline was but a misreading or a dubious conclusion drawn from the interview, the truth is that a number of Filipino Catholics particularly from the ranks of the Laity and the Clergy felt uncomfortable if not confused by such a newspaper heading printed in big and bold letters.

In order to know the straight and honest key pronouncements of the Holy Father, it is in good order to have a copy of the whole interview to read it all and well, in the original Italian text or in its English translation – both of which are admittedly long and elaborate, dated 30 September 2013, the National Catholic Review “AMERICA” printed the whole translation entitled “A Big Heart Open to Gold” and quoted the Supreme Pontiff saying: “The image of the church I like… is that from the Second Vatican Council’s ‘Dogmatic Constitution of the Church’ No. 12).

The logic is elementary: If Pope Francis really belittles dogma as claimed in the above quoted headline, how come he precisely likes nothing less than the dogma on the constitution of the Church – something categorically dogmatic? If he really thought and said that love should place dogma below it, why did he in fact explicitly affirmed that he liked the constitution of the Church as a dogma according to the Second Vatican Council?

Does genuine love in fact belittle, undermine or underrate dogma? Is genuine dogma not in effect the product of real love? Is there a contest between true love and solid dogma? Does love lessen the dogma about the existence of God, the dogma that Christ is true God and true Man. The dogma that there is heaven and inferno, salvation and damnation – among many other dogmas? One thing is to love all men – saints and sinners alike. Quite another is to love criminality and vice, graft and corrupt practices, war, killing, and destruction.

In other words, according to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, there are only Two Commandments: Love of God and Love of Neighbor. But both loves in no way say that the truth – such as a dogma – may be loved less. Why? Because God is Truth – a dogma. Because the truth is that man is created from the Image of God – a dogma. In other words, there is no contest between dogma and love.

Conclusion: To allege that for Pope Francis, love should be above dogma – and wherefore dogma should be below love – is but a misunderstanding, a misreading, and a mistake.