Go, Bergoglio!

Listening to or reading my co-religionists' inter-religious debates about everything from politics to the virtues of raw milk, I've become increasingly alarmed that most orthodox Catholics --at least in the English-speaking world-- are hamstrung by a kind of neo-Pelagianism that reduces every question to an argument from authority and the obligation to will the "right" solution to every problem.

I've written about this a lot (chiefly here, I suppose) because it's my current and recurring bugaboo. Sometimes it comes up in a discussion of the virtue of prudence in political matters, and sometimes as a lament for the stupid arguments people make as they try to engage non-believers, and sometimes I see good and serious people torturing themselves with heavy burdens they think are essential to being good Catholics that are not essential in any way and that crush the joy out of life in Christ and make people frighteningly susceptible to being scandalized by their own and others' failings.  "A saint sad is a sad saint" as St. Teresa used to say, and I see a lot of sad saints, because they are focused on not screwing up rather than on living life united to Jesus.  It's heart-breaking because life could be so much more joyful and beautiful if people could only see it.

Naturally therefore I read this with interest and pleasure -- in an article about Pope Francis' forthcoming book co-written with a rabbi. 
Bergoglio posits that this type of rigid religiosity “disguises itself with doctrines that pretend to give justifications, but really deprive people of freedom and will not allow them to grow.”

“Fundamentalism is not what God wants,” Bergoglio says.

He believes that as a result of this religiosity, people are not prepared to overcome the crises of life, the failings one has, the injustices one commits. “They do not have tools to recognize or understand the mercy of God,” he says.
I suppose both fearful Conservatives and self-justifying Liberals will misread him to mean doctrine doesn't matter. But given what he says in the same article about abortion and same-sex marriage, I'm confident he means no such thing, but rather that Christianity cannot be reduced to a set of rules and formulae we look up in a handbook and try never to violate -- as if Christian perfection were something we can simply will rather than an action of grace --  a relationship with Jesus who is alive, and a progressive growth into the freedom and joy of the sons of God.

And there was this in his chrism mass:

It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord: self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live by going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become pelagians and to minimize the power of grace, which comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others, giving what little ointment we have to those who have nothing, nothing at all.
Again, given his repeated emphasis on Confession and the wiles of the devil in just the few short weeks of his papacy, I don't think the remark can be construed as a deprecation of traditional doctrines of sin and grace. He's telling us "Be ye perfect" is not a call to perfectionism, but an invitation to trust God and offer the gift of ourselves to others so that grace can work and love can grow.