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Monday, September 29, 2014

Reading Francis Through Akin

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Reading Francis Through Akin

Jimmy Akin is a “Senior Apologist” at Catholic Answers. A big part of the job of a Senior Apologist at Catholic Answers is marginalizing and ostracizing “radical traditionalist” Catholics so that everyone will remain content with the decrepit ecclesial status quo in which Catholic Answers is deeply invested, and without which it would cease to exist in a matter of weeks.

For example, there are those famous radio shows by Catholic Answers apologists devoted entirely to the dire threat of “radical traditionalism.” Then there is the crucial advice Akin renders to Catholics who may be afflicted by what he calls “temptations to RadTradism.”

As he tells it: “ a gentleman contacted Catholic Answers asking if he could register at a parish outside of his diocese because ‘all of the parishes in his diocese’ were allegedly so problematic that he felt could not worship as a Catholic in his own diocese.” Tut, tut, tut. Did not this poor confused Catholic know that church-shopping to find a parish that you think will be heaven on earth can lead to RadTradism”?

Seriously, where but at Catholic Answers can the faithful find such precious spiritual guidance in these troubled times? Keep those donations coming, folks!

Since the election of Pope Francis, however, Akin has been diverted from his priority task. Now he has to labor mightily in the What the Pope Really Means Department of the Catholic Answers excuse factory. It takes a lot of work to explain away all of the seemingly heterodox utterances of the man whose first words from the balcony of Saint Peter’s upon his election to the papacy were “Good evening!”—a statement whose orthodoxy cannot be questioned.

Here is just one example of the onerous task Akin has so bravely shouldered over the past eighteen months: a 2500-word article explaining how, when Pope Francis said that Our Lord’s miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes was a “parable,” he did not mean “parable,” but rather parabola—an Italian word. Yes, parabola happens to be the Italian word for parable but, Akin argues, it could also mean “comparison” if we consider the Greek origin and Latin usage of parabola, which could still be present, however faintly, in the Italian if we look really, really hard.

While Akin admits “I don’t know if in Italian circles, or Italian theological circles, it is natural to use the word parabola in this way”—the Italian word for “comparison” being confronto or paragone—surely Pope Francis must have been thinking of the Greek and Latin etymology of parabola when he used the Italian word for parable. So that’s what he meant! Q.E.D.

Therefore, Akin concludes, those dastardly English translators of the Pope’s sermon should have written, not “the parable of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes,” but rather “the comparison of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.” Granted, the latter phrase makes no sense at all, but at least one can say it is not heterodox. Problem solved.

Pretty darned persuasive, don’t you think? [Note to Karl Keating: I think it’s high time you gave Akin a big raise. This man is doing some really impressive heavy lifting for your organization.]

As Akin assures us in the same article, “despite the way he phrases himself, particularly when speaking off the cuff (as he often does),” Francis is “a fundamentally orthodox man…” What more could anyone ask of a Pope, especially when we have Akin to explain that what the Pope really means is always completely orthodox, no matter what his words might appear to signify?

As Akin puts it, when confronted with the Pope’s latest theological dubiety we must “ask how his statements might be understoodin harmony with tradition(the “hermeneutic of continuity” that Pope Benedict stressed).” Yes, your donations to Catholic Answers have produced yet another breakthrough for the defense of the Faith: a hermeneutic of continuity for papal statements. If a Pope’s statement appears heterodox on its face, one must simply read it as though it were not heterodox. What do the words matter, anyway? As Pope Francis himself has explained, we must move beyond “fixed formulations learned by heart or by specific words which express an absolutely invariable content.”

I know you’re thinking: Wait a minute! What need do we have any longer for the mission Catholic Answers was founded to conduct: apologetics to defend the Faith against Protestant errors? In the era of Bergoglio there are no longer any Protestant errors to refute, and the ministers who preach what the Church once called “errors” and even—I know this is hard to believe—anathematized as “heresies” are now, as Francis insists, to be considered our “brothers” whom Francis has “no desire to convert.” On the contrary, Francis wishes to give them a high five.

But not to worry. There’s still plenty of work for Catholic Answers to do. Instead of reading Francis through Benedict, now we can read him through Akin. Francis and Akin: Perfect Together. And bashing traditionalists. There’s that. These vital activities need to be supported for the good of the Church. So get out your checkbook and mail a big fat one to Catholic Answers. Tell them I sent you.

Last modified on Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Christopher A. Ferrara

Christopher A. Ferrara: President and lead counsel for the American Catholic Lawyers Inc., Mr. Ferrara has been at the forefront of the legal defense of pro-lifers for the better part of a quarter century. Having served with the legal team for high profile victims of the culture of death such as Terri Schiavo, he has long since distinguished him a premier civil rights Catholic lawyer.  Mr. Ferrara has been a lead columnist for The Remnant since 2000 and has authored several books published by The Remnant Press, including the bestseller The Great Façade. Together with his children and wife, Wendy, he lives in Richmond, Virginia.