It happened to the Jews, and it is happening to us, Pope Francis said. He was talking about what happens when a people become deracinated, when they lose their religious moorings. Citing the Book of Maccabees, the pope mentioned how the Jews tried to regain their cultural and religious identity after Antiochus IV Epiphanes sought to deny them their heritage. It is happening to Christians today, he said, many of whom have traded allegiance to God for worldly ends.
The root cause of this Christian disloyalty, he said, “is a fruit of the devil who makes his way forward with the spirit of secular worldliness.” We cannot negotiate our identity, he said, simply because of social pressure to do so. He admonished us not to succumb to “globalized uniformity,” the tendency to “be like everyone else,” and what he called an “adolescent progressivism.”
These remarks by Pope Francis come at a time when some Catholics are more interested in adopting the secular values of the dominant culture than they are in defending Catholic teachings and values. So desperate are they to be liked by the secular elites, they are more willing to have the Church accommodate itself to the prevailing normative order than they are in resisting it. Thus do they promote the “adolescent progressivism” that the Holy Father denounces.
The pope’s comments show his courage, as well as his commitment to recharging Catholic values. We hope those who have been willfully misreading some of his statements take note.