Was St. Paul Rigid?

July 15, 2021
Source: FSSPX Spirituality

During the general audience of June 23, 2021, Pope Francis again returned to the theme of “rigidity” that he criticized since the beginning of his pontificate: “Always rigidity: ‘we must do this, we must do that.’” 

The following is a reflection by Fr. Alain Lorans.

According to him, “rigidity is peculiar to those people” of whom he tirelessly denounces “the temptation to close in on certain certainties acquired in past traditions.”

According to François, this temptation goes against the “common good,” as he had already said on December 21, 2019: “We must be wary of the temptation to adopt a rigid vision. The rigidity that arises from the fear of change and that ends up sowing obstacles and traps in the field of the common good, turning it into a minefield of incomprehension and hatred.”

On this occasion, the Pope quoted Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, one of the leaders of ultra-progressivism who, in a last interview before his death in 2012, lamented that the Church was “200 years late,” because of her innate fear of change. Since then, Francis sees “rigidity” as a sign of an obsession, a symptom of a phobia.

This pope's insistence turns into obsessive repetition, an idée fixe, so that Roman observers are starting to whisper that he is “rigidly anti-rigid.” We can only agree with them when we see the Sovereign Pontiff go so far as to detect a pathological imbalance in those he calls “rigid.”

On October 24, 2016, he did not hesitate to risk this diagnosis: “Behind rigidity there is always something hidden, in many cases a double life, but there is also something of a disease.… Behind, there is something wrong: they are bad, hypocrites, or they are sick.”

Obviously, the pope is not considering psychiatric treatment for opponents of his teaching and his government, which would be too reminiscent of the dark days of recent dictatorships. However, one cannot help but think of the popular saying: “If a man wants to drown his dog, he first accuses it of having rabies.”

But let us return to the June 23rd audience, where Francis commented on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians (Gal 1:6-9). In it, the Apostle to the Gentiles asserts that those who disturb the community are those who teach a new gospel, instead of the one announced to them.

But the pope reproaches the “guardians of the truth” - “rigid,” in his eyes - for wanting to return to the past, which is exactly the opposite of what St. Paul forcefully declares: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema!” (Gal 1:8)

“Let him be anathema,” would there also be “rigidity” in St. Paul? Rather, is it not rather his entire fidelity to the revealed Truth?