tv Garry Wills on The Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis CSPAN September 26, 2015 1:36pm-2:36pm EDT
>> every weekend booktv brings you 48 hours of nonfiction authors and books on c-span2. keep watching for more television for serious readers. next to mark the papal visit to the united states we bring a program from march on the future of the catholic church. historian gary wills questioned whether pope francis is capable of producing significant change within the catholic church. [inaudible conversations] [applause]
>> good evening, everyone. the queue for coming out tonight. what an outstanding crowd. i am not surprised. you tricked a very good event to come to. diane lissa muscatine, one of the co-owners of politics and prose. my staff and co owner and husband bob grant and i welcome you to this event. most of you know the drill but just in case you are new to our events, gary wills will speak for a bit and is happy to take questions. we have a microphone up here and do we the dyke if you could make it to the mic if you have questions. we videotaped these events and we have c-span here tonight. it is helpful if various audiences can hear what you have as a question. we will end in about at our. if you don't have a copy of the book and like one we have plenty up front, gary wills will sign
at the end. tx given the magnitude of this crowd of you could limit your request for signing to this current boat, sometimes people bring past books as well but we would like to keep it to the current one still please be mindful of that. and lastly if you have a cellphone on and could silence that we would appreciate it and we would also be grateful if at the end of the event if you are sitting in a chair isn't for not standing if you could put it to the chair that will expedite matters greatly for all involved so thank you for all of that. is indeed a pleasure to welcome gary wills back to politics and prose. we have been lucky enough at the store to have hosted him for quite a few of his previous books, not all 40 or however many there actually are but if you have attended any of his talks you know that in evening with him is always a thought inducing and provocative experience and i'm sure tonight's discussion will be no
exception. gary wills will discuss his new book "the future of the catholic church with pope francis," he is professor and marriage that northwestern university, pulitzer prize-winning historian, frequent contributor to the new york review of books and other publications, the author of i didn't count but isn't there, several dozen books covering vast terrain of politics, government, history and religion, widely respected as one of america's leading public intellectuals and there's a subset that allow a catholic intellectual, i was thinking about all this earlier today given how prolific he has been, how influential, how widely regarded he is and how many subjects he has taken on the question did arise for me what is left to say? it turns out not surprisingly given the vast array of things he thinks about there is quite a bit left to say. this book looks at the history of the catholic church was pretty geller attention to the church's capacity for change and education as it confronts the
challenges of a new century. the ascension of pope francis who has captain people in and out of the faith is the backdrop in context in which he examines the church and its role and there surely is no better scholar, writer or thinker than gary wills to help understand the institution, its past, present and future and how it affects the lives of so many people around the world so please join me in welcome a and gary wills back to politics and prose. >> i have been coming here a long time and i always love to. always very intelligent. what is not to like about pope francis? he disappoints catholic liberals like me but scare's the socks off of conservatives. they have reacted with panic and no wonder.
it is a bit disorienting to have a quote who is actually a christian. [laughter] >> some on the right reassure themselves that he is changing the tone of catholicism but not its doctrine. for then, religion is just doctrine. if you do not hold the right doctrines you cannot be a catholic so since the catholic -- the pope is a catholic the summer beginning to hesitate about that, he must hold all right doctrines. the leasing he can change is the tone. rather than tone i prefer to talk about changing the culture of religion. the ethos of believing as a matter not only of the head but of a heart. as he sold -- told interviewers the structural, the organization reforms are secondary.
the first reform must be in attitude. francis signals a culture change in everything he does. in what he calls himself, where he lives, what he wears, even when he rides in. i want to take a quick look at those four before i get to the questions. first his name. no pope has been called francis. when he came in second at the conclave that shows benedict he was asked afterward what name he would have chosen had he been elected and he said john 24th which tells you what his mindset was then but he had time to think about it afterwards and obviously thought deeply and came up a home or audacious choice.
francis was not a priest. no pope has been named after a layman. francis was a subversive. as soon as he diet, at the order splintered off into all kinds of ways of saying he meant--that couldn't be true. there were various observances, spiritualist franciscans and conventional ones. that was the thing the surprised me from the outset, the name. second where he lived. the fact that france is not living in the papal palace but -- this has been discussed in terms of mutt jury versus austerity but that is not what he emphasizes. he says it is not a matter of loneliness versus comfort police she says i cannot live alone.
i must live my life with the others. popes really say they need to others. the in the average entry ritual of the palace dramatize the ruler's apartments, self-sufficiency. the rulers not like you or me. francis takes images by placing his own phone calls, eating at a common table, to say that he is like you and me. the cassette santa maria is a place of transience built in 1996 to harness cardinals when they need to elect a new pope. before that they slept on cots/kern's in the halls and offices of a papal palace. during a conclave the cardinals have no communication with the outside world, by telephone,
radio or tv, and after a while when the conclave is over, some transient people are allowed. i had a scholar friend in the vatican library, i had not been without tv or radio or telephone, without his wife, who didn't allow women inside the vatican at night. the rooms are equal and assigned by lot, attending the conclave with a fellow cardinal, watergate had grown to 01. after his election as pope he moved to the slightly larger room, two of them. he celebrates in the adjacent chapel with a big go big alters in the vatican. he has used receptionists in the papal palace for some functions
but he is the visitor in their like the people he is receiving. it is not an expression of normal living space, and when people went to the pope's residents it was like a pilgrimage to the center of ecclesiastical grandeur. the pope is a traveler living with his fellow pilgrims. third what he wears blue is the palace says the man apart, so do ceremonial clothes. jesus warned no, neither did tricks or bishops for a long time as late as the fifth century when my great hero as the bishop of hippo, now whenever he was painted he wears of refinery of the bishop invented in the middle ages, the
glove, the rain, this would he's he wore street clothes we still were not closing the ships and priest says rumors, francis has to wear some people regalia. he keeps it as simple as pecan. all bishops wear a simple be, plain white suits, offer the ceremonial shoes that fit his election and remember the previous pope warned of the red shoes worn by product. he said no thank you en is tested the tools he had come with, he has a bad back and wears therapeutic shoes.
one cannot imagine him wearing the clothes, with a long train carried via flunky the agreement birse still likes to wear. rulers have the primacy of their office by the symbol they can wrap around their body. in shedding many of these francis is throwing a spiritual striptease. his namesake threw off the rich clothes his father's wealth made possible and got back into the world wearing rags. have you been through, when you go there and go into the place there, the case that shows the guard he was wearing when he died. it was faxed. i am sure the pope would like to wear that.
what he rides, francis cannot travel around rome by bus as he did as archbishop and turtle of when a series so he took the bus with his fellow cardinalss when you went back to market after he was elected. and his first trip into rome, his diocese as bishop of rome he was not going to limit the escorted by vatican police car. he was in the police car. he followed his own warnings that bishops should not be driven in flashy cars even on the table airplane he mingles with journalists as no other pope has done and it is typical of him when he was invited to the conclave he was sent first class ticket and freighted it for coach. but are such gestures, such tone enough? the pope has and a difficult job
because no other pope in history has lived with the preceding quote right down the street. and of course loyalists of benedict and john paul he doesn't want to break the continuity of the church by quarreling with them. his first major statement, the joy of the gospel he quotes john paul and benedict and all vi constantly. they have citations through a third of the guests, his church and tradition and because of this experience as a provincial in argentina at when there was, it was very hard for him to hold
together the tradition of the time and oppression of the government he did not include or consult people enough. he said he was put in too young and that was crazy. one of the first things he says pope was i have been wrong and he doesn't want to be wrong again. one of the things he does not want to do is join one faction of the church against another faction. it doesn't want to joel in the right or left. ecclesiastical conservatives like to punish, use doctrine as a weapon. their typical action that reveals so much about them is to deny sacraments to certain
politicians. the pope has written the eucharist is not a prize for the perfect. it is a medicine for the week. frequently we act as arbiters of grace rather than facilitators. those who turn away people from the sacrament remind me of the pharisees who says they away from that jesus, he dines with thinners. now we have a bishop saying we have centers out there, they won't dine with my it jesus. francis's distance from such people as expressed in the joy of the gospel, he says rather and experts in dire prediction, and judges bent on ruling out every threat and deviation we should appear as joyful messengers of hope, guardians of the goodness and beauty for the
gospel. and doesn't want to be with that backdrop. he doesn't want to joel in the other side either, he knows the we lefties and too often the smarty pants of a party. we know it all. and not only people reactionary, liberals rushed to jettison, and devotions, francis like john 23 brymac likes quote religion which recalls popular piety. the appointed room in santa martha, a statue of our lady of wuhan, the patron virgin of argentina. he said expressions of pocket of piety have much to teach us. for those who are capable of
reading them, it demands our attention. and a new evangelization. and we should be shepherds and shepherds have to know the smell of the sheet. and you will love what they love. like pope john xxiii in that, john xxiii did not change the church from the top, he called the bishops for a council and the bishops called in a whole generation of theologians silenced by pious, we can see the same spirit with the pope's handling of the 2014 senate of bishops. one of preliminary report indicated a relaxing of language in communion for the divorce conservative bishops objected and the language was watered-down for the final report. that is a setback for the pope.
he did not take sides, he congratulated the bishops for their freedom, their willingness to debate, their openness and honesty, john allen called his speech at the end one of the best he made his papacy but then he did something very important. he said let's publish the proceedings. the sentences were set up after vatican ii to be a voice for the people through their representatives and the collegiate expression of sharing office of the pope with the bishops but john paul said it was getting out of hand and he made an secrets. they couldn't publish the proceedings and had to turn them over just to the pope who could do with them what he wanted. this pope has said because of a
preliminary senate and followup this year, let's see what the issues are and what we are voting for and now the bishop is going into the second senate, no the what they say is going to be known or how they voted. pope francis write the sees his mission not just a catholics but all 12 believers in jesus and to all believers in god. he says there's only one god in the holy spirit acts 2-4. as archbishop of when a series, and shocked people by kneeling down and accepting their blessing in public. in the joy of the gospel his major statements so far, he praises the spiritual message of the koran which says muslims too
are guided by the holy spirit toward the one not the, there's only one and we can learn from the treasures we built the boat for centuries. when the instagram calling for a holy war, a billion and half muslims, the most important contribution this pope will never make, gave a pitch holy war. that would make him a world historical figure worthy of his namesake. [applause] >> where are the mics? >> nobody has any questions? this has never happened that
>> my name is coleman marcotte the. >> oh, how are you? [applause]. >> i go back many years with you gary when you and i started out at the national catholic reporter. you are the conservative voice. [laughter] you're up against the john ringo who is a liberal. now john is a conservative and you are over liberal, so there is a god. [laughter] i would like to ask you, are you disappointed were justifiably angry that the catholic church is not a pacifist church. there has never been a pope who tells catholics don't go in the
military, the catholic now supplies chaplains, notre dame has the biggest rotc program in the country. do you think it will ever happen that the catholic church will be a pacifist church as other mennonites, the church of the brethren, and the quakers? i'd like to hear thoughts. >> did people here that question. all christians should be pacifist. pump six when he spoke at the un, said no more war. many popes have said no more war. this pope is now say no holy war, ever. that doesn't get that down to the actual performance of
christians. for a a good reason, popes led wars, they had kingdoms, they use them in horrible ways. it is all of the trappings of monarchy that have begun to be wrested away in the 19th century when the rule was taken away from popes. they have given a little more voice at least, i hope you read and the new yorker the heroically christian, they were - many people were very good friends of mine when i lived in baltimore. we flew back for his funeral from chicago. christianity hasn't failed, christians have failed to be christians. that is certainly true. i hope this pope is at nudging
little more away from that. >> hi, i am curious in your interpretation of the election and how francis one. i would be interested in politics and how these kinds of things really happen. in addition to the holy spirit of course. [laughter] >> that is a very good question. the question was, why did they ever elect this guy? his record was ambiguous. when he was trying to save fed jesuits from the war in argentina, he was seen as not supporting all liberation,
theology of the jesuit order. it caused long standing hard feelings between him and a large number jesuits. there is a rift between him and the jesuits. explaining that is something that would take too long. he had not made arrangements to retire to a home that is not a jesuit and buried in a cemetery that is not a jesuit. so one of the things he tried to do when he was pope was tried to heal that rift. he gave that long interview, six hours over three days to the jesuit magazine. this is saying more than i know,
this that may well have played the part and the fact that it was john paul that made him a bishop. john paul made him a cardinal. he didn't do that with people he didn't trust. i think he felt this is a man man who would oppose liberation of theology, and john paul hated jesuits. the jesuits, many of them are convinced he tried to sequester the order. he tried to replace its influence, the one he did favor, all of those fairly right wing groups he favored. they were not sure that he was
entirely on their side but they didn't think he was entirely on the other side either. who knows why each of those floated. i think many were scared, the the scandals were accumulating, they needed someone from outside , they needed someone to express that. they figured he was old, what can he do. that's what they thought about john the 23rd two. there is a pendulum swing often observed between a long papacy and a short one. when they finally got rid of that long papacy of john paul, and benedict in addition to that, then they do say we need a little fresh air in this place.
>> you have talked about, okay i am short. you talked about the steps he is taken to shift culture, what hopes do you have that he may actually do something to shift doctrine. what doctrine do you think he might be interested in shifting, and and particularly the doctrine on young women? >> did you hear that question? she said he is changing the culture but will he change doctrines especially on women? john the 23rd did not change doctrine on his own, that's what monarchs do. the the pope is not a king. what he did was called a council.
then changes took place there. they're deep and important changes especially on the whole business of the jewish race. that is one of the deepest, most wounding in terrible things about the church. the council change that. now, i should say that it is not easy for rulers, especially ones those who think their absolute rulers to reverse course as we found out when paul the six could not reverse course and contraceptive. without destroying the credibility of the church. lots of things get changed in the church by destitute. indulgences, there have been a number of cases where the catholics just start believing
it without saying oh god were we ever wrong. that is happening now with the sacrament of penance. nobody is going to confession. they don't have to change the teaching on it, it will just disappear. that has happened often. things came in, for instance the seller bit priesthood came in as a matter of usage not a matter of doctrine. that could be changed easily. in the role of women, the church is behind the liberation of women and so are we until very recently. patriarchy is a sin of all cultures practically. to wiggle out from under it has been a difficult thing for americans.
women have been becoming more important. i i don't want women priests, i don't want priests. there are no priests in the gospel, and the letters of paul. he never calls himself a priest. he calls himself a lot of things, and his his coworkers a lot of things. peter never calls himself a priest. he says i am a dressing my fellow presbyters, elders. elders. that was the highest office conceivable at that point. so as a matter of fact, since the priesthood is shrinking drastically to a small and old group, women are doing a lot. in my church, the campus church of northwestern university, we
have had in the third of a century that items there, five or so priests. they come and go when a bishop tells us. we have no saying over that. we have women that we chose ourselves who are the real leaders of the community. when when the first one of those retired, students came back from around the country to say, when i was having trouble with my studies, it was mary who got me through. she is the one who helped us prepare for marriage. she is the one who baptized art children when they are born. she has been replaced by another woman who has as long a ten year, and important influence. by the way, both of them preached homilies until the cardinal stopped them.
now, priests are so much in demand, they have to run from parish to parish, sometimes three and four times a day. naturally the laity has to step up and do a lot of things, especially in control of the finances. one of the side effects, the good effect of the horrible scandal, is the laity started asking what is this money going to all these plaintiffs were? so women's influences going to to grow, it is already growing. one of the things the church did was exclude everybody from studying theology because it was all done and latin. women were not supposed to study theology, and didn't. and didn't.
now there are brilliant women theologians of the catholic church and in other parts of christianity. i didn't use the seminary library and as northwestern as much as some of the others, when i started going there in 1980 it was all mail. all people studying for the ministry were male. men, more and more, now there are more women than men. so the pope will not declare women are well, but he will recognize it when he sees it. popes may not like it when they see it but they know what it is. >> thank you. going back to your earlier example, i happen to be roman catholic but the more i learn about francis the more i have feelings that i would like to follow him. he really understands the great
commandments. would you expand on your comment on how he is influencing other denominations and faiths? >> the question was isn't the pope influencing non-catholics as catholics. is he ever. i just came from all reading in austin texas, someone got up and said why do non-catholics like him better than catholics? [laughter] i said, maybe it is because he reminds some people of jesus. thanks. >> your first book was about a biographer of st. francis. i was wondering, what would you what would he think of pope francis. >> the question is, i am a big
chester tin fan what would he think about pope francis. while he would love him. what is not to love. the thing is, chester sent although he has some bad views especially on jews, he was a great democrat. he said, democracy is like blowing your nose. you may not do it very well but you have to do it yourself. [laughter] i think he would recognize the democratic spirit of pup francis who wants to be with the people, out there with them. he says get out of your rectory's. one of the reasons that hard feelings came up in the jesuit order is that he took a couple of people who are working there because he felt they were endangered. many jesuits thought he and
support them enough. when he became archbishop he would take the bus and go to the slums and say i want priests to get out there and get the smell of the sheep, he said i admire priests because he knew the name of every dog in the salon. >> you began by saying catholics are particularly addicted to doctorate, or many kinds. doctrine is not going to disappear from the catholic church, we do it reflexively, it just happened. can you indicate what you think might be the direction that to doctrine will evolve in a useful and helpful kind away rather
than in an excluding way it has in many years. >> yes, the question is doctrine is not all bad, what doctor can we set up? the really important doctrine formulated in the early councils, formulated in the east, and councils and councils that popes did not even attend. what gave them the power to enunciate what christian belief was them? at nicaea the empire called parts of them together to establish communication between all of the bishops. let me start over and say that before pope he was as point that, are you upset that so many catholics don't believe what the vatican says they should believe
on contraception, abortion, mary priests, whatever. he said no, that doesn't said no, that doesn't surprise me. doctrine does not preach by vote, but by revelation. as a matter fact doctrine was reached by vote. at nicaea, they debated the incarnation, the great doctrines and there is a majority and minority vote and the majority one. the bishops had been elected, they were even acted by their presbyters. the presbyters were not elected, the way you became a priest and the four century was to have a community say, we want you to be a priest so you have to be. people try to avoid that, and roasted. they went to the emperor and said we want him so he has to come to us. the people where the voice of
god. once you are chosen, you could never leave. you are married to that community. you're the leader of that community. augustine when he traveled for the council asked permission from his community. that was so true that the bishop was united with his community and the expression of it. during most of the middle ages no bishop could become pope, he would have to leave his people. so you had abbott, deacons, aristocratic nuns, but no bishops. it doesn't strike enough people how odd that was, now you have to be of bishops even be considered a pope. then he couldn't be a pope
because your bishop. now the question was about what doctrine are expressive of christianity and could be developed. it's the doctors that are reached as they were nicaea. the call together of the people of god and say how are you living with jesus and what is important to do that in a better way. that is the real source of doctrines. >> i am curious, because the pope is coming to the united states later this year, he is going to publish a very highly anticipated encyclical on climate change as well as many choices for congregation of the bishops, as well as for your own archdiocese of chicago was a huge follower of him, i was curious about what are your views on his visit to the united
states as well as some of his choices for new bishops and cardinals coming up into the search? >> the question was, what about the visit to the united states. what you anticipate? i predict, i hope, the trouble with this pope if you're in the prediction game, is he says i get up every morning and i want to be surprised. so far, he has been surprising us that way. i hope he continues to do it. the choice of a bishop in chicago replacing a very conservative, he is the person who stopped the homilies in our church, then shows that he was
shepherds who know the smell of hit the sheet. there was a proceeding pope and their careerism, you knew knew your path up in the church was to meet the demands of the pope on abortion, concerts perception, et cetera. but we had was a two-tiered church. they contraception, every poll that has been taken shows over 80% of catholics in the fertile years practice contraception. priests know that and don't make a big deal out of it. i don't ever remember hearing a priest and a homily talk against contraception. bishops don't care about that, their suggestion can in rome looking up to the pope and say i think contraception is horrible, i think it is so horrible that
i'm going to intrude into american politics and say that obama care is evil because it takes away the religious freedom of catholics not to have any contraception. they've got it, they exercise their freedom. that is totally hypocritical arguments. i know people who refuse to be ordained when this came out saying if you don't agree with this teaching i contraception i won't ordain you. they didn't get ordained. some people live. the way to succeed in the church was to be a hypocrite. those are things that will work themselves out by walking.
what catholics actually believe and do will determine our future. >> so you seem to actually like a lot about pope francis. you also seem to understand the forces and challenges in front of him and constraints. he has only been there two years. why are you disappointed? >> no pope can make up for all the horrible things that have happened. i know victims of sexual abuse and i know people who have been pressuring the church for some kind of heroic penance.
they are not satisfied with the pope. i'm not satisfied and in a way none of us can be. i don't know exactly what they do. he set up commissions and committees, beginnings summative punishment. there was such complicity in the cover-up, such instinctual resistance to any challenge that practically all of the bishops are guilty of the cover-up. they were acting by a code, it it is like the police code, attack any of us and we are solidified against you. that happened with the bishops, even the bishops that did not actively ignore complaints.
there is such a web of suppression of evidence, it was so horrifying. i talked to a number of victims, the aura around the priest was such that when they finally convinced their mother and father of what happened, the first reaction appearance was not to believe about them. when they got the parents believing and went to the priest the priest with a know that didn't happen. when they finally got lawyers and made them start trampling, they started financial settlements which provides that they not take the story to the press or the people. buying the silences so exposing other people of what happened to them. in rome itself, the whole
vatican reacted with this give you true on that scale, it's just in america. when that was being said by all kinds of very influential people, and in the vatican, no bishop stood up and said stop this. you have to realize what has been done and you can't continue it. but they didn't. so i suppose a proportionate response would be to fire all the bishops. i don't think they are going to. >> although i am a fan of him too. thank you.
>> i was noticing in the latest interviews the pope did, i think this was a newspaper in this form of bonus errors, he talked about the fact that his papacy would not be a long one and he might be with us for five years. i am am wondering if we should take that at face value or if that is the trickster in the pope. if he were to end his papacy and the next next few years what is the scenario of what would happen next in terms of the next pope? >> the question is the pope is old, so he has said that he does not have much time left. none of us do, i'm his age. age. what will happen when he dies? i hope that we will not depend on the pope as much when he dies
because he is telling us not to. that we will be acting like the people of god as we should have all along. just as in america once you get something like liberation of women, the recognition of gays, it can be very hard to stop. one of the great things about america is the speed with which the feminist movement has put women in very high office. bonnie frank has a new book and said he would never believed recognition of gay marriage would actually take place with the speed that it has. i think the same kind of ferment can work in the church when you
have a john the 23rd or francis the first. >> some time ago i attended a lecture at the dominican school of theology given by he was discussing the demise of carl impacting the formation of priests and theologians today and that there is a trend now to return to the solid teaching of st. thomas aquinas. do you think this pope has ever expressed in yen on this issue? >> he was at a dominican lecture and he was hoping that thomas
aquinas would get back. he was a jesuit so i'm surprised he was a hero at this dominican. when you want to go back to aquinas it depends on which one you go back to. he was a great saint and liberator but he has left a terrible legacy. he was a defender of the people tower. it was on you. he was also a great admirer of aristotle and he thought recovering aristotle in the last, by by the way was to buy muslims. natural law will tell us things that are not in the scripture, we can flesh out more
information by thomas aquinas. aristotle meant things like males are bigger and stronger than female so they should rule. that is the order of nature, if that is not the order of nature they would not have been made bigger and stronger. so aquinas went along and said that's great and then he came across the question of the status of the embryo. aristotle said the embryo if parents were not fit for life. then when when they were born and if they are weak and small they should be disposed of,,
drop them in the woods and let them die there. at that point aquinas should've been questioning whether this natural law business was so important. he can argue of course that the natural law was divine of the fittest and if you want to evolve you have to get rid of the unfit. that is natural law according to aristotle. aquinas was made the official theologian of the church. augustine was kind of forgotten. they never had a course on augustine. many courses on aquinas. one of the reasons is augustine was a favorite of luther and calvin. so, in effect the leaders of the catholic church said, well we
don't need him we have aquinas. he is sound, but he is not sound on a lot of things. augustine has his problems too but he has a much more liberating mind. >> i i think we have time for two more questions. as a reminder if you would like a copy of the book there are plenty of front we will do the signing afterwards. two more questions and we'll end it there. >> with the growth of the church in the southern hemisphere, i don't know that much about latin america. but africa seems to be extraordinarily conservative. you mentioned the natural law, you you hear that a lot in africa, the question is what is the future going to be like in the church