Somebody Named Richard French Stoops Down to Instruct the Church

Richard French, the host of Richard French Live, penned an open letter to Pope Francis. In it, he suggests that the Catholic Church should refocus on feeding the poor and clothing the naked.

“The laity,” he said, “needs to hear less about abortion on Sundays and more about how we…can do more for others.”

Watch the clip:

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So… some rich media guy who has, I will wager, never kissed the foot of an AIDS victim, nor spent much time in the company of the poor is instructing a man who has done this many times? And for a cherry on top, he is demonstrating his total ignorance of what happens in Mass.

Here’s Heather King describing what all people who actually go to Mass know:

In my sixteen years in the Church I have never heard a single homily in which the priest exhorted the congregation that birth control is wrong, extramarital sex is wrong, being gay is wrong, gay sex is wrong. I’ve hardly heard those things mentioned. I have heard countless homilies about mercy, sacrifice, our longing hearts, our brokenness, our stumbling search to learn how to love.

So French reveals his total ignorance of what happens in Mass, as well as his ignorance of the fact that the Church–right now–is, without any possible comparison, the largest charitable organization on the planet.

Please. For the love of God (literally), try to find out *something* about the Church before you make these ridiculous pontifications, Mr. French.

Here’s an idea: Instead of stooping down to tell lower middle class Catholics how they are not up to snuff, why not turn all that social concern toward the rich and arrogant? You might start with Extremely Rich Joe Biden who, despite his immense wealth, charges us serfs $585,000 for one night in a Paris hotel and $459,388 for a night in London yet only gave an average of $369 to charity each year. If you are really into simulating dudgeon about care for the poor, Mr. French, you might at least try showing some real dudgeon at rich oppressors instead of beating up people who are actually charitable and who actually care for the poor.  You know, like serious Catholics who do not spit on the Church’s teaching concerning the unborn and who also give liberally to charities.

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  • Tom R

    If you’d blogged this in Latin, Mark, it would have been “Franciscus contra Franciscum.”

  • vox borealis

    It’s funny (“funny”)—here you’ve got some dude pushing the progressive talking points about all the church ever talks about is abortion, meanwhile the “conservative Catholic” circles are usually up in arms that at many parishes years go by without hearing the word abortion, or any of the other sex-stuff, at a homily, as Heather King observes. We live in a very strenge world.

    • Stu

      This whole post is filled with irony from multiple directions.

  • Elizabeth Scalia

    Funny, I’ve never head a homily on abortion. Never, not once. I hear them all the time, though, about loving our brothers. Idiot. :-) Yes, I am being ironic.

    • vox borealis

      Elizabeth, I’m not sure which part of your post is ironic. I will say without irony that I have heard no more than 5 homilies in my forty years on this earth actually mention abortion explicitly—others probably hinted at it. Up here where I am now (in Montreal), the young assistant priest had a couple of very pointed homilies last summer that dealt with the “pelvic issues.” We had him over for dinner some months later and he confided that the pastor of the parish took him aside and told him “we don’t talk about those things here.”

    • Rosemarie


      I’ve heard abortion mentioned in a homily occasionally, though not often. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a homily entirely on abortion during a Sunday Mass, let alone *every* Sunday.

    • Mike

      It gets mentioned directly once a year at my parish. Other than that it’s also love your neighbour, help the poor, etc. etc. So this guy’s an idiot.

  • astorian

    In 13 years at Catholic schools, and in 45+ years going to Mass, I have NEVER heard a teacher or priest preach against birth control or homosexuality.

    What about abortion? About once a year, usually around the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, I’ve gotten to hear a priest read a dry pro-life letter from the bishop. It always felt like a formality.

    That’s why I’m never surprised that so many Catholics my age (let alone younger Catholics) have no idea that the Church has any rules about sex… or any rules that actually need to be obeyed, at any rate.

  • EBS

    I have never heard the word abortion uttered during a homily. Let alone sex, gay sex or extramarital sex. So I don’t know where this French guy goes to Church. Gee he makes it sound like he is being berated for these sins every Sunday- My word! Actually all I ever hear in Homilies is what each can do for another.

    Im going to rant now: Why didn’t Obama make it a point to attend the inauguration? I found that extremely rude sending Joe Biden.

    And on the side note of Biden, if your stats are correct Mark, what a pathetic excuse for a Vice President Joe Biden is. He better not have an opinion about the Church and charity. By the way, Im curious, did Biden queue up to receive the Eucharist at Pope Francis Mass?

    Anyway I just can’t believe the lack of respect shown to Catholics by The President of the free world, whom I feel should consider Catholics as important enough to make an effort for…especially if they are the largest Charitable Organization on Earth.

    • Benjamin

      This nation is a secular republic. It doesn’t owe anything to a theocratic monarchy, sorry. He sent Biden because Biden is actually a Catholic, so it makes sense for him to go at least for personal reasons.

      • Chris M

        depends on what you mean by “actually” ;) but yes, otherwise, I would agree, more or less. I don’t think the Prez is obligated to go, but obviously some official recognition to the installation of a global leader like the Pope is appropriate. Sending a delegation with the VP and various others seems like the right call, esp considering the President is not Catholic and the VP (at least nominally) is.

        • Benjamin

          The Bishop of Rome is a head of state in only the most nominal sense of the word. I doubt the Prince of Monaco expects the President of the USA to show up for his coronation, and he rules over a bigger and more populous territory.

          • Bill

            Come on. For all the glitz and glam of Monte Carlo, the Vatican is FAR more influential and important. Even from a realpolitik standpoint. It’s only leftist obscurantism that denies that.

        • EBS

          Obama isn’t obliged to go.

          It just wouldn’t hurt his fat ego to go and represent the 77million Catholics in the USA. After all they only make up 25% of population and comprise of the biggest single religion in the United States of America- instead of sending senile “catholic” Biden, as a token.

          And it would make sense that since America is dependent heavily on the Catholic Church’s ability to assist in the countries numerous social problems (homelessness, poverty and education to name a few ), it would be in Obamas interest to go. The Catholics Charities in US contribute 89% of 4.5billion dollars annually to Catholic programs, never mind the time that is contributed.

          So Benjamin pardon me if I think some “special treatment” is “deserved” here.

          The President of the next Baptist Church and The President of the Episcopal Church does not preside over anywhere near the number of Catholics that The Pope presides, nor does it contribute anywhere near the amount of assistance that the Catholic Church contributes.

          In other words arrogant Obama needs to accept that he would be up s@&$- creek-without-a- paddle if it wasn’t for the assistance of Catholic charitable organizations, especially during the current troubling economic times. Too busy doing some dud peace deals with Israel. Probably to do with selling more arms in the region for his pathetic piggy bank.

          Once again, another wasted and misused representation of the seat of the presidency.

          • Dustin

            Sending to Rome some deputy undersecretary of whatever would have constituted a “token.” But a delegation consisting of the Vice President of the United States and a former Speaker of the House? Burma only got the Secretary of State last year.

            And “senile?” C’mon. I know that Biden, a run-of-the-mill Democrat on most issues, is hardly popular around here, but you’re being silly. The line about Obama’s “arrogance” is straight out of talk radio. Listen to yourself. Turn off Limbaugh.

            • Mark Shea

              You don’t think arrogating the power to secretly order the murder of anybody on planet earth–with zero accountability–is arrogant? Really?

              • EBS

                Aha! You hit the nail on the head Mark.

                Why would the President pay any interest to Catholics other than forcing them to go against their good conscience. So he definitely isn’t going to personally represent them at the Papal inauguration. No matter if they are many, pay taxes and probably voted for him in the last 2 elections.

            • EBS

              Whose Limbaugh?

              • Jon W

                Your Limbaugh. My Limbaugh. His Limbaugh. Her Limbaugh. Everybody Limbaugh!!!!

                • Mark Shea

                  How low can your puns go?

                  • The True Will

                    This is affecting my puncreas.

            • EBS

              Well that’s no good for Burma. So it seems Obama is too busy for ANYONE, unless it’s a holiday in Hawaii.

              • Stu

                You most likely know it as Myanmar, but it will always be Burma to me.

          • Paul

            Has any president attended a papal coronation/inauguration?

    • Benjamin

      I mean would you honestly be offended if he didn’t go to the installation of the next President of the Southern Baptist Convention? Or the installation of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church? I don’t get why Catholics think they deserve special treatment just because of their size.

      • Robert King

        Can’t speak for other Catholics, but I don’t think we “deserve special treatment.” I do think that the Catholic Church plays a significant role on the global stage that most other religions do not, and certainly it has a profound historical and cultural impact on the West and some parts of the East and South – especially Latin America at present. So it makes sense to me that many political leaders would acknowledge the pope’s inauguration in an official way.

        It makes sense, but it is not expected. No invitations were sent. No delegations were required. And the fact that so many nations of the world did send delegations (of any kind) is, to my mind, a great compliment and testimony to the good that the Church has done for the secular world.

      • Andy, Bad Person

        Wait, just a second ago you were saying the Prince of Monaco doesn’t expect the President, even though he lives in a more populous territory. So does population matter, or doesn’t it?

        And yes, it should matter. One out of every seven people in the world is Catholic.

    • SouthCoast

      “Gee he makes it sound like he is being berated for these sins every Sunday- My word! ” Perhaps the Good Lord has set the man’s conscience at 11, and he has yet to realize it?

    • Richard Mehlinger

      Because he was in Israel.

      • EBS

        Yes how convenient.

  • bob

    If the bishop is considered the head of a *country* then it shouldn’t surpise anyone that elected representatives show up. There’s no guarantees about what they’be like. They also don’t have to be invited.

  • Christina

    Before this past year I’d heard maybe 1 or 2 homilies on “pelvic issues”. There was one about going to confession last lent that went through an examination of conscious followed by when people could go to confession within the next week (hint – every day). With the HSS mandate this year alone I’ve heard at least a dozen (although a good number of those were at daily mass). A few weeks ago I apparently missed a doozy on natural law and homosexual “marriage”. Yet even at this awesome parish actively seeking out the lost and offering healing, someone going to just Sunday masses would have only heard maybe 1 or 2 depending on who the priest was – hardly every week.

  • Donna

    The unborn are the weakest and most helpless others of all. They are voiceless, seldom seen, and can be killed at will .

  • Arnold

    The complaint about the ostensible homilies against abortions reminds me of the often used complaint that priests are always talking and preaching about money. We all know how wrong that claim is.

    Regarding Biden’s hotel bills in London and Paris : In fairness, I imagine that the bulk of the bills was for the security staff and aides. Nevertheless, this type of extravagance has got to stop in a time of sequestration. Te same goes for million dollar presidential overnight trips to Florida to play golf with Tiger Woods.

  • Tom R

    Well that’s ironic because I’ve heard Anglican and Baptist sermons denouncing homosexuality and Anglican and Presbyterian sermons denouncing abortion. (The Anglican blast against homosexuality was shortly after “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” came out in 1994). To be fair, in Catholic Masses the Eucharist, not the homily, is what people are there for whereas Protestant churches may not even have the Bucharest every week but the six-part series on Romans or Hebrews is what’s advertised on the noticeboard. After years of five-minute homilies and people leaving straight after Communion I was surprised to see Protestants taking notebooks into church so they could record notes on the pastor’s sermon. Mind you, these were all conservative congregations – even the Anglicans were at least I Samuel or earlier, and here in Australia “liberal Presbyterian” is an oxymoron. having said that, what little i recall of the Catholic sermons had a lot more about social justice (poverty and refugees in particular).

    • Tom R

      “the Bucharest”?! Android isn’t even trying any more.

  • KML

    Yup. I’m a weekly Mass going Catholic who goes to a pretty orthodox parish, and I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve heard abortion and marriage mentioned in a homily in the last 10 years or so. Don’t even need all my fingers.

    And the comments about charitable giving recalled this article I read earlier today:

    Widow’s mite and all that.

  • S. Murphy

    How *did* ‘don’t kill babies’ come to not count as Social Justice(tm), anyway?

    • Tom R

      S, my reading is that the people who talk a lot about “social” justice mean it as something that governments have to deliver by long-term planning and service delivery. Abortion is done by private individuals, not by governments (- yet), so even if (arguendo) it’s “injustice” it’s not “social”.
      In other words, “social justice” focuses on saving people from evils and misfortunes that aren’t a direct result of a culpable individual killing them, attacking them, locking them up, or stealing from them. If the crops fail and people starve, or if the poorer citizens can only afford houses in areas that flood when the rivers rise, that’s not an “injustice” in Hayek’s strict (ie, individualistic) sense. If it offends any standard of justice, it’s that of “social” justice. I am describing, not necessarily advocating, this view. Is that clearer?