Francis’ Interview and the Unexpected Unity of the NY Times and the Francis Haters

Well, it’s been a day now since Francis’ terrific interview was published. First thing you should do go read the whole thing, cuz it’s great.

What’s fascinating to me is how many people are reacting, not to the interview, but to the dunderheaded way in which it is being misread and misinterpreted in the media. Exhibit A:

 Pope Says Church Is ‘Obsessed’ With Gays, Abortion and Birth Control

Um, no. He didn’t say that. If you want to really understand what the pope said you need to grasp that the central issue for him is the living encounter between Jesus Christ and each human person. Here are the *real* key words from the interview:

“The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you.”

That’s the key to understanding everything else in Francis’ interview. The whole thing was about the fact that the faith is primarily an encounter of human persons with the person of Christ, not about salvation by rules and slogans. It’s in *that* context that he makes the following remarks:

We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.

“This is also the great benefit of confession as a sacrament: evaluating case by case and discerning what is the best thing to do for a person who seeks God and grace. The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better. I also consider the situation of a woman with a failed marriage in her past and who also had an abortion. Then this woman remarries, and she is now happy and has five children. That abortion in her past weighs heavily on her conscience and she sincerely regrets it. She would like to move forward in her Christian life. What is the confessor to do?

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

“The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.

There are two massive ironies about this whole kerfuffle.

The first irony is that the press pored over a 12,000 word interview, zeroed in on a dozen words on the Pelvic Issues and declared “POPE SAYS CATHOLICS OBSESSED ABOUT SEX!!!!” Erm, have you checked the mirror, MSM?

That said, the Pope isn’t wrong to direct his message to Catholics.  And his principal message to conservative Catholics when it comes to the Pelvic Issues is “Don’t be as cramped, narrow, and blind to the person as the world and the world’s media is. When you focus too much on fighting the world you start to think like the world, trying to run the Church by rules and laws and slogans and power and fear and punishment and not by putting first things first: which is Jesus Christ and our personal encounter with him. The press can’t be expected to get that. But we Catholics *must* get that.”

And so (irony #2) what astonishes me is not the the NY Times doesn’t get that, but that the conservatives all over the blogosphere panicking about the pope’s remarks don’t get that either. Those who are expressing various degrees of outrage, dismay, panic and betrayal at the Pope’s remarks ironically agree far more with the NY Times’ take on the core of the Faith than they do with Francis’ take. Both talk as though Francis has somehow overturned or endangered the Tradition of the Church by his remarks. They only differ on whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Neither grasp that Francis has done no such thing and has, in fact, articulated the heart of the Tradition.  It is this: the law was made for man, not man for the law.

The encounter of the human person with God in the person of Christ Jesus has primacy over everything else.    Everything. Else.  All other things–yes, even the extremely important issues of abortion, gay marriage, and the family–cannot be allowed to become the *only* things or the faith is reduced a form of idol worship (a favorite theme of his) in which a few secondary truths take precedence over the encounter of the human person with his Savior Jesus Christ.  The “obsession” he denounces is not with defending innocent human life and the family (“The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church”).  Rather, it is with reducing the faith–the living encounter of human beings with the merciful Savior Jesus Christ–to abstract rules, power, and fear without respect for the person (“The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently”).

In this he is perfectly right and, mark this, wholly unoriginal.  It’s the same thing that moved Jesus to eat with tax collectors and sinners.  It’s also the same thing that moved JPII to remark in Redemptor Hominis, not that the Church is the road that man and woman must walk but that man and woman are the road the Church must walk.

Sherry Weddell had some very perceptive commentary on her FB page:

From Forming Intentional Disciples, spurred by reading Pope Francis’ interview:

I am not a Christian because it “makes sense” or because someone sat down and diagrammed it for me. I am a Christian because I have been loved deeply and unconditionally by Christians. Some of them… troubled me with hard questions. But all of them loved me when I did not love them… Reason is a wonderful tool, but it is a weak force for deep change in human beings. Faith, hope and love are not tools; they are virtues, powerful and exceedingly difficult to embody, and much more efficacious than reason for changing lives.” – Paul Wallace

It’s amazing, challenging, unnerving for Trads, and you have to read between the lines on homosexuality but it fits in completely with the thresholds of pre-discipleship. He is an evangelizing pastor whose instincts are all personal and missionary, not a defender of the sharp lines and exact phrasing . . but a highly relational apostle. Many American Catholics have regarded the fundamental job of the papacy to be drawing sharp lines and defending those lines against those who want to cross them. PF wants to cross those lines to connect with the lost and lapsed.

I would certainly agree that JPII was highly apostolic and exceedingly personal but he was also a major intellectual while Benedict was a loving but deeply introverted intellectual who needed lots of private space. Francis is a cultured, literate man but not a public intellectual and that is really different. He is first and foremost an apostolic pastor – not an intellectual. Very different from the last four Popes. This is an experience of the Papacy through a man who is 100% pastor. Different charisms really matter.

I love this guy so much.  He really really gets it.  So far from seeing him as overturning the Tradition or (as the media love to promote) attacking the work of his predecessors, I see this man as offering a magnificent opportunity to make the riches of the Faith available to the world in a way that makes Jesus personally accessible to a generation that cries out for Him.  He is an unexpected and astounding gift to us and I am deeply grateful to God for him as I am for his predecessors.  What an amazing Church this is!  What an amazing time to be alive.  Deo gratias.

  • Maolsheachlann

    Liberal Catholics cry triumphantly, “See? I told you so!”

    Rad trads cry triumphantly, “See? I told you so!”

    Faithful say: “Peter has spoken”.

    The heavenly chariot thunders on. Hurray for Pope Francis!

    • Gordis85

      Hooray for the heavenly thunder come down upon us all!

    • Chris

      The Pope’s interview with a periodical is in no way binding upon you or any other Catholic. He was speaking as a private theologian not as heir to Peter; treating every minor pronouncement made by a Pope like a new addition to the Gospels needs to stop.

  • Mary

    I don’t think the media coverage was as off base as you perceive. No, the Pope didn’t speak in a way that would change any core Catholic teaching. But he was clearly addressing his remarks to folks who elevate concerns about contraception, gay marriage, formalistic liturgical rules, over far more important priorities for all Christians. I think a lot of American Catholics obsess on that stuff because it is a heck of a lot easier than opening their minds to Christ’s radical message and realizing that affluent Americans (by which I mean virtually all of us) are willfully blind to a lot of it. Don’t minimalize this Pope’s message. He means to challenge us and make us uncomfortable.

    • Fiestamom

      Hi Mary,
      I don’t think Mr. Shea even came close to the media insanity. Here is a glimpse of how nuts the media is when it comes to Pope Francis’ interview, (& it proves Mark Shea’s point) unsurprisingly, there is a lot of anti-Catholicism voiced as well.
      http://twitchy.com/2013/09/20/liberals-confess-crush-on-democrat-pope-over-his-message-to-gop/

      • Mary

        I did not see that, that is over the top. I read the Times piece and the piece in my local paper, which was from AP, I think. And watched local news. The fringes on either side will make of it something other than what it was — as they always do.

    • Bill

      this isn’t a rebuke of any one by him, just a reframing.

      Francis wasn’t doing a gotcha moment here at all

  • Marthe Lépine

    Maybe I am exagerating, but from reading Mark’s post, I would summarize the matter by saying that Francis is the Pope of the New Evangelization.

    • michicatholic

      I would say you put 2 and 2 together.

  • linda daily

    Hi Mark, Why don’t you focus your blog on Jesus Christ and your encounter with him? That’s something I would read!

    • Bill

      He certainly does do that already Linda

      • linda daily

        I disagree, Bill. I believe he writes primarily about the other people’s faith lives, or the lack thereof, which invites the garbage comments found here. Always ready, set, go for a fight. Mr. Shea seems to be a great writer – I’d truly enjoy reading more about his encounters with Christ and his faith journey, rather than constant polemics and opinion. True witness would build up the Church, and would invite me back for more.

    • michicatholic

      Mark probably knows what I know. Catholics, almost to a person, really don’t want to hear what motivated a convert, particularly if they’ve had a dramatic conversion experience or if that experience had anything to do with Scripture. What Catholics mainly want is for you to verify to them that what they were born into isn’t such a waste of time after all. Over and over, I’ve experienced this. It’s a joke to tell your conversion story to many Catholics. They simply don’t listen. They don’t want the details of how it happened; they don’t want to hear about the actual moments of conversion and if you are too explicit about it, they will reject you very negatively and very rudely. What they want is the verification that they’re not wasting their time, and I’m no longer willing to give that to them. I’m not the poster child for that kind of thing. If people feel they were ambushed at birth, they need to work that out for themselves. I’m not party to that and here’s my take on it, which I guess is my negative bit: I don’t want to hear about your passive captivity. Dude, take off the Pampers and get a life, one way or the other.

      • michicatholic

        Now, if they care to get a bible, a concordance and a bible dictionary and actually learn something, I’m open to that. That will be news to them and it will probably help them. But revisiting their blind alleys in the guise of my story, no thanks.

      • linda daily

        Well I do want to hear his conversion story, although I’ve watched him on the Journey Home many years ago and have one book. More than that, I’d like to hear more about his, and other people’s, encounters with Christ in daily living – the God moments when we are made more aware of his presence. My hope is that all bloggers who call themselves Catholic would focus more on God. Also, if you want people to approach you with true interest in your conversion story, you might try developing a more welcoming attitude. You’d have a lot to offer.

        • michicatholic

          I had a welcoming attitude that lasted for decades but I’ve heard this so many times that I’m done with it. I’m tired of being treated like a second-class person because I’m not a cradle Catholic. Peoples’ issues with being ambushed are their own problems especially when they’re going to act like passive-aggressive lunatics about it.
          PS. Your shaming is completely in character. It has that cradle Catholic aura to it.

          • linda daily

            Yikes, what shaming? Just a suggestion – people might be afraid to approach you for fear that you’d bite their heads off. Who cares about the cradle thing. We are all called to grow into mature faith, wherever we started. I’m sorry you’ve had such bad experiences. Maybe you can speak to your pastor about it – I’m sure he’s seen and heard it all. Good wishes.

            • michicatholic

              Generic cradle Catholic advice. No, that’s fine. I know what to do. I just don’t talk about it. It’s my business. Don’t kid yourself, the cradle Catholic thing is major in some places. I am very careful of it because it’s nasty.

  • wlinden

    I stopped paying attention to Laurie Goodstein when she wrote that most Episcopalians “have never heard of” the Anglican Communion.

    As for HuffPo, incompetence is insufficient to explain their mashup which even replaced “abortion, gay marriage and methods of contraception” with “gays’. It has to be deliberately pushing the gay agenda which “liberals” keep telling us isn’t there.

  • Dave G.

    I wonder why everyone assumes he was only speaking to Catholics who are opposed to those things. After all, if polls are to be believed, at least in our neck of the woods, more Catholics support those things than don’t. Couldn’t he be speaking to everyone as opposed to only those who stand against those things? And of course, if he isn’t, then that’s a question worth asking: why?

    • http://hjg.com.ar/ Hernán J. González

      “I wonder why everyone assumes he was only speaking to Catholics who are opposed to those things”

      Because the pope (and the Church and the gospels) always speaks to “them”, not to “us”. It’s not “we” who need to be taught, we already know. The problem with the church and the world is esentially with “them”, always with them, and the pope should teach “them”, and “they” should listen him (hear, hear), so that “they” start thinking more like “us”, and things start going the right way.
      That’s also why we get so worried when the pope or the bishops say things that could be misunderstood… by “them”, of course, “we” have no danger of misunderstand anything.

      • michicatholic

        LOL. I love that people liked this comment. Is it that they agree with you, or is it that the think “they have no danger of misunderstanding anything?”

  • capaxdei

    I don’t think we should underestimate how great a challenge Pope Francis is to the view of many, many Catholics of good will who understand the Catholic Faith in terms of doctrines to accept rather than in terms of a God Who loves us even to death on a cross.

    This is an understanding that runs so deep that even the statement, “God loves us even to death on a cross,” becomes a doctrine to accept rather than a truth that transforms literally everything.

    • Sherry Weddell

      Tom – a very challenging insight. So true, I suspect. (from the Colorado Springs airport on my way to beautiful downtown Bismark!)

    • Alexander

      I don’t fundamentally disagree with Mark’s posts or Tom’s (capaxdei) comment that Pope Francis’s comments are a needed challenge to those (such as me) who can be overly focused on doctrine rather than pastoral evangelization. I also think the Pope may be taking the very long view of evangelization — thinking that he needs to step out of the box for the Church’s message to be heard AT ALL by the secular world, or for the Church to bring back fully within its fold disaffected Catholics on the lieft.

      Still, I do believe that the Holy Father is not being as wise as he should be in his choice of words. He could make all of these same points without any ambiguous statements that could be read to suggest he is downplaying Catholic doctrine. He could make all of these same points without expressly criticizing types of Catholics (whether reactionaries on the right to NGO Catholics on the left). It is often his phrasing that is causing angst and unnecessary division.
      I know the MSM will distort whatever he tries to say, but that’s all the more reason why he has to be wise in his remarks. Fr. Dwight Longnecker had some very interesting thoughts yesterday in this regard. He said that although the Pope’s message is, when read fully, a coherent Catholic message of mercy and forgiveness to those of us with a Catholic sense of sin and the need for redemption, it will be easily misunderstood in a secular world that has lost much of its sense of what sin is. The secular world will hear nothing more than “abortion, etc. is no big deal” and then go back to their lives without giving the rest of it a second thought. It is often the Church’s moral challenge to the world that makes anyone pay attention to it — it was separates the Catholic Church from the now ignored Episcopal Church.

      • John Barnes

        Along those lines, a young and very thoughtful priest I know penned this last night:

        “Making distinctions is not going to help people incapable of making distinctions (on either side). The Pope says, ‘We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. . . . The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.’ Reuters headlines: ‘Pope says Church must end obsession with gays, contraception, abortion.’ If you can’t see or don’t care that your headline does not follow from the two lines you smashed together than [sic] why should the Pope bother to do anything more than use you to spread the message of Christ’s salvation and mercy?”

        So while I don’t necessarily disagree with your point, I’m not sure that precision of language or a different choice of words would do much good.

      • Gordis85

        I suppose one could argue that both JPII and Benedict used what many of you are calling for “clearer language or precise words” but in the end, many still ignored them and went about their merry way.

        Now, here is Papa Francis speaking and challenging us all but in a rather new way of speaking and one that has confounded many in and out of the Church.

        In the meantime, the evil one is having a field day at all the “mess” the interview has caused.

        As for me? I am going to keep hoping and praying and trusting as best as I can. ^^

    • michicatholic

      Excellent comment. You have captured it, Capaxdei.

  • contrarian

    Good stuff.

    At the end of the day, whatever one thinks of the pope’s comments, there is a (perhaps unintended?) benefit from this. Given that the media has so drastically distorted Francis’ words, it will now fall upon priests and deacons to offer some clarity in the pulpit, given that this stuff is making headlines left and right, and leaving many unwitting faithful confused.

    Me thinks that many Catholic faithful are, for the first time in their entire blessed lives, going to hear a few sermons on the sins of contraception, fornication, cohabitation, and abortion.

    So, hurray for that!

    • capaxdei

      Ye thinks that many priests and deacons are going to do the exact opposite of what the Pope wants them to do?

      “The message of the Gospel, therefore, is not to be reduced to some aspects that, although relevant, on their own do not show the heart of the message of Jesus Christ.”

      • contrarian

        Me do, yea verily.

        Certainly, as per the pope’s words here, priests and deacons must be wise as serpents when they do so. It’s gotta be savvy.

        But for the simple fact that the media is presenting this as, “Pope has changed the Church’s position on pelvic stuff!”, and given that many Catholics follow the MSM and do not follow great blogs like this, priests and deacons will be given the charge of clarifying. In the midst of the clarification, it will be made known to the parishioners that contraception, etc….well, that’s stuff still wrong.

        Certainly, there might be many priests and deacons who won’t bother trying to clarify the pope over and against the media. But my guess is that many will.

    • lspinelli

      Me thinks that many Catholic faithful are, for the first time in their entire blessed lives, going to hear a few sermons on the sins of contraception, fornication, cohabitation, and abortion.

      Why do they need one when a five minute search to find the Catechism online does the job?

      I know how bad today’s anything-goes culture is. I’m trying to raise kids in it. I don’t want a sermon on sins that are regularly blasted all over every media outlet. That’s what the Pope is talking about. The Church isn’t just about sin.

      • contrarian

        Good points!

        “Why do they need one when a five minute search to find the Catechism online does the job?”

        There are many things that one can do, outside of Mass, to strengthen their faith and learn about the faith. The homily is a great place for this too. It needs to be done well, no doubt.

        I’m trying to raise kids in this anything-goes culture too. I also, every day, encounter college kids who have gone to catholic schools their whole lives and who have gone to Mass every Sunday who have nevertheless heard *nothing* about the pelvic stuff. They’ve heard a lot of about the love of Jesus and the importance of being nice, but not a world about this other stuff.

        Some of them simply don’t think the church really cares about that stuff. After all–yes, they see, via an internet search (the kids are good at that), that the Church ‘technically’ teaches certain things. But given what they are being (not) taught in their catholic schools, and given what they have (not) heard in Sunday homilies–for years and years and years–they have good reason to think that such technicalities don’t matter.

        “The Church isn’t just about sin.”

        You are right. But it is *partly* about sin–specific sins, no less. Moreover, the Mass is *mostly* about sin–the sins of the living and the dead, and how we can atone for them.

        We must evangelize prudently, wisely, and kindly…but also completely.

        • lspinelli

          Then I’m lucky that my kids are in a good CCD program.

          Last year, my son asked me, quite pointedly, if gay sex was a sin. I said yes. It’s called fornication, and it applies to people who aren’t married, straight or gay.

          He said, that’s what I learned in CCD.

          My parish is in a staunchly conservative area, so I know I’m not getting some more liberal interpretation of Church doctrine. I’d be more concerned if I was in Boston or California…said with no disrespect to the faithful and orthodox parishes in those places.

      • johnnyc

        Isn’t the Church in the business of saving souls? Repent and be baptised is no longer in play?

        • chezami

          How on earth do you get that from the Pope’s interview?

        • michicatholic

          It is, but it’s not just talking about sin and calling people names. It’s not even about going to confession. It’s about being converted to Gospel Christianity and knowing Jesus Christ in your everyday life.

    • michicatholic

      I think not. I think that you didn’t read the pope’s interview.

  • david

    I think a lot of Catholic bloggers and blog commenters think they are more important than they are, and think that Francis should think of us anytime he opens his mouth.

    We are a small minority of the world, even the Western world. The pet issues that matter on the Catholic blogosphere aren’t even on the radar of most people who need evangelized, and I suspect that Pope Francis is much more concerned about evangelizing than guarding his every word so conservative Catholics won’t find even a hint of something that can be taken out of context.

    99% of people I know, even average Catholics, couldn’t even begin to understand or care about most of the debates that cause so many hard feelings on Catholic blogs. I am not saying that is right. In fact, I think it is wrong to be so disengaged from theology, morality, etc. But I am saying that is the reality, and that is what Francis is often engaging.

    The common response I see on trad-leaning blogs is “stop talking already Francis.” Personally, I am delighted Francis is talking. I am sure some early followers of Jesus wished Jesus wouldn’t have engaged Gentiles, sinners, and tax collectors so freely and openly either, but Jesus was actually reaching them by meeting them where they were, while the hardliners were off by themselves enjoying the security of knowing they were wording things completely correctly.

    • Gordis85

      Wonderful! I just had a thought after reading your post….while they were off secure in all the fine details and whatnot…the Lord of life was among them and they knew him not. I so do not want that to happen to my family or to me nor to any of my brothers and sisters in the faith.

  • Evan

    Great interview from Francis.

    And for some strange reason, when I read the NY Times piece yesterday, the only thing I could think of was this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsNZvfCGv3k

  • ivan_the_mad

    I’m about halfway through the interview, but some things that have already struck me:

    “This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity. And the church is Mother; the church is fruitful. It must be.”

    New Evangelization!

    “The young Catholic churches, as they grow, develop a synthesis of faith, culture and life, and so it is a synthesis different from the one developed by the ancient churches. … They build the future, the young ones with their strength and the others with their wisdom.You always run some risks, of course. The younger churches are likely to feel self-sufficient; the ancient ones are likely to want to impose on the younger churches their cultural models. But we build the future
    together.”

    This reminds me of one of Russell Kirk’s (ultimately a Catholic) principles: “Change is essential to the body social, the conservative reasons, just
    as it is essential to the human body. A body that has ceased to renew
    itself has begun to die. But if that body is to be vigorous, the change
    must occur in a regular manner, harmonizing with the form and nature of
    that body … The conservative takes care that nothing in a society should ever be wholly old, and that nothing should ever be wholly new.”

    God bless Francis and the Church :)

  • AquinasMan

    I re-read the entire interview following my initial angst (yeah, I wet the bed) and I am wholly on-board. The Washington Post actually ran a very balanced and well written analysis of the interview. This is an amazing moment for the Church and the world, in general. Those of us in formation for the diaconate just got some serious marching orders come ordination, and I daresay the surge in candidates over the past five years or so is simply providential.

    • chezami

      Excellent! Yeah, this was a great interview. Just great!

  • Dave

    Pope Francis’ statement overall is great, even if a bit too ambiguous at times, and makes it EASIER for the media to twist the meaning.

    One thing, though. I think even Pope Francis has fallen victim to the false perception that the Church talks about issues related to sexuality all the time. Abortion, yes, somewhat, but that is a life issue, though obviously it is connected to attitudes about sexuality. I might hear abortion mentioned a few times a year in homilies, or in the petitions, at most. But as far as actual homilies about sexual issues, or even MENTIONING sexual issues, I’ve probably heard a handful, maybe two handfuls at most, in my 25 years as a Catholic. Even the Popes don’t talk about those issues a lot.

    Yes, we do hear *A LOT* about the Church’s position on sexual issues, but that is mostly because the media will not shut up about it. If anything, I think the Church needs to talk about sexual issues MORE, because right now, the issues are being framed by the media, and the Church isn’t really putting out the message in a proper, balanced way.

    • Alexander

      Fully agreed.

    • vox borealis

      Yep, that’s my experience. In fact, I’m also somewhat baffled by the entire rhetoric: “we need to talk about Christ first, and not just talk about dogmas and doctrines.” In my forty plus years, including 13 years in a a fairly sound, I think, Catholic school and weekly, at least, mass attendance. I heard lots and lots and lots about Christ, about Jesus’ forgiveness, about the salvation of the cross, but I have precious little about dogmas and doctrines and rules, let alone how the dogmas and doctrines and rules flow necessarily from the encounter with Christ. Where is this hide-bound, rule-oriented, doctrine-obsessed Church that the pope warns against? I’d like to visit it and see what it really looks like.

      • Lori

        100% agree. Francis’ statement really shouldn’t surprise us since he’s appointed a certified liberation theologian as head of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. His main goal is to emphasize liberation theology not rules and regulations. As long as the Church collects money from gov’ts around the world while being navigators for universal healthcare, Francis is happy and calls us to be a poor church. Thanks to socialist ideas…we are all going to be poorer. He’s a pope for our times.

        • Stu

          No.

        • Dan C

          Muller is barely associated with liberation theology.

          Who appointed him? Check that out. You’d be surprised.

        • Bill

          ridiculous and calumnous

          • Lori

            What is ridiculous is how we all must make excuses for him. What is ridiculous is the charity we must have for all the religious leaders as they take billions of gov’t money and call it charity. Let’s make an excuse for them as they call for religious freedom but Catholic hospitals have taken federal monies to navigate Obamacare. Here’s a quote from a hospital association newsletter:
            “One of the biggest issues we are going to face given the exchange, and the potential expansion of Medicaid, is that every hospital is going to have to become an enrollment expert and work with other agencies in their community like United Way, community centers and churches. Leaders within all those organizations will need to be skilled and familiar with the enrollment process.” Eventually, we won’t need planned parenthood because a woman’s medical rights to abortion and birth control will be done at the ‘Catholic’ hospitals through Obamacare. Dolan might sound good calling for religious freedom but he has been paying for abortion and birth control in employees health insurance for awhile…he does so in ‘protest’. I guess the Catholic hospitals will abort, hand out Ella and birth control in ‘protest’ too. The problem is their protest is so quiet most people don’t know about it. Just like their witness. They write editorials for universal healthcare and comprehensive immigration reform but never about the moral issues. I think there might have been one or two bishops recently that have written in their secular paper or had an interview in their secular paper regarding same sex marriage but is it a little too late? I watched as the USCCB promoted the DREAM Act through their lobbyists, the START Treaty and then were silent on repeal of DADT. Weren’t they worried about chaplains religious freedom then? I was but they remained silent. During the budget talks the USCCB sided with Jim Wallis, the socialist in his group, Circle of Protection, which called for the protection of all the entitlements. You see the USCCB sides with the democrat and the socialist as long as they get their money. Morals come second to their end game. They want universal healthcare with abortion neutral language and they ignore subsidiarity so they can be the universal re distributor of our tax dollars, business grants and our tithe. Catholic Charities get over 2 billion a year form our tax dollars. I’ve been watching them the past 5 years and they don’t stand firm in the faith when it comes to money.

      • michicatholic

        I call “baloney.” It’s all about rules and expectations and cultural habits. That’s why young people are leaving in droves. They’re not obligated to it the way their immigrant parents & grandparents were.

    • michicatholic

      You think the Church doesn’t talk about sex all the time? Really? LOL.
      The Church in the US only has about 2 topics: sex & liturgy–and those in all flavors and complications, although mostly political. That’s pretty much it. The rest of the time, Catholics behave pretty much like everyone else. Most Catholics like it that way because they can hide out. It’s embarrassing.

  • Dave P.

    I read some of the comments on Fr. Z’s blog (I don’t dare read Rorate Caeli).

    I wonder how these people would have thought of someone like St. Francis de Sales, whose approach to Calvinists was, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

    I can hear it now: “That wishy-washy Francis! Why doesn’t he fight fire with fire, which is the proper way to deal with heretics? And all that mushy stuff about the Love of God? We need to hear about hellfire and damnation! And purge the earth of the Calvinist filth!”

    • Stu

      But aren’t those you words? Isn’t that your characterization of what you think “they” will say? The Pope had some great thoughts here about understanding those who are apart from the Church and making efforts to restore the fundamentals before leading with the desire results. Shouldn’t we extend that same approach to those within the Church already whose thoughts on this, while not exactly sound, are motivated by a genuine concern for the Church?

      There is a consistent theme about how Francis is challenging those on the “right” followed up with sentiments of “I’m with the Pope on this.” Well, let’s then challenge ourselves in all facets and with all people both within and without the Church and that would include “these people”.

      • Dave P.

        I’ll be honest: I’m more sympathetic towards Traditionalists than I am towards the lost-in-the 60s crowd. But it must be admitted that there is a faction in the Church which equates any “soft” approach with weakness. If the message is not the way they want it presented, then it’s at the least misguided and wishy-washy, and at worst, heretical.

        • vox borealis

          I imagine it’s because for that faction, the “soft approach” is all they have experienced the last half century, and they associate the results with the approach. I don’t agree with them, entirely, but I get their underlying logic.

          • Stu

            Bingo. That’s what we need to address.

            It’s sort of like the who Catholic Social Teaching challenge. It has been co-opted by heterodox elements within the Church to the point that any mention of it cause some to shriek. We have to explain to them what Authentic Catholic Social Teaching is (and what it isn’t) and build support.

            • Dave P.

              Again, I agree. I’ve even seen some RadTrads contend that the Spiritual Works of Mercy are more important than the Corporal Works of Mercy. It’s as if they are afraid to engage the concept of social teaching using even “traditional” terminology.

              • Stu

                Maybe. I haven’t encountered that thought before but I suppose someone could also make the case the you need to have the Spiritual side in order before you can really make headway on the Corporal side. Re gardless of that being correct or incorrect. I do believe there is room to see and acknowledge that line of thinking but even so at the end of the day, you can just point out that ultimately you need both so any distinction isn’t really germane.

          • Dave P.

            I fully agree with you on that. But there is a time and a place for both approaches. And we also must remember that the mainstream media will almost never get the message straight, no matter which approach is used.

      • Gordis85

        Great comment and one which I relate to. I speak for myself many times falling asleep in my faith and now having to wake up and take notice and get back to walking the narrow road with Jesus and the Church.

        Thank you Papa Francis for challenging all of us as you desire all to be brought to Christ!

    • Athelstane

      There really isn’t anything to read at Rorate Caeli, since they (very wisely, and very belatedly) closed their combox for good last week. Even they reached their wit’s end moderating the crazies and the angrys.

      • Dave P.

        I hadn’t known…

        • Athelstane

          They’re still posting articles and news, but the combox is gone. Obviously the combox was not the only problem over there, but it was the most toxic, quite often.

          Indeed, to their credit, today they’re running a link to a video of a homily by an FSSP priest warning his congregation not to be judgmental, arrogant and unwelcoming. I think this is a step in the right direction.

          • Cotton

            Now, if we would take the same thought and begin less judgmental, arrogant and unwelcoming to our Protestant and Catholic friends people may begin to believe there is something to what the pope is saying…….sell the benefits, (Christ’s love) leave the features, (scripture and church teaching) ’till later, not get rid of them.

    • michicatholic

      Rorate Caeli finally collectively put its tail between its mock-rococo legs and slunk off to the swamps, all the while feeling sorry for itself and muttering in badly conjugated Latin. They have discontinued comments. Wisely.

  • Rebecca Fuentes

    My husband did the very early (or depending on your view, the very late) shift of walking and calming the baby. He’d pulled up the exact article and headline you refer to here. I’m afraid my first thought was a very uncharitable version of, “I wish the media would stop putting words in the pope’s mouth, and I really wish my non-Catholic friends would stop believing them when they do!” I’m looking forward to reading the actual interview, after coffee.

    • Paxton Reis

      “I really wish my non-Catholic friends would stop believing them when they do!”

      Despite the challenge with such headlines and sound bites, this does create the opportunity for us to have a meaningful discussion with our friends and neighbors.

      • Rebecca Fuentes

        Very true! Sometimes it feels like an enormous task, but the process can be enjoyable one it starts.

  • Paxton Reis

    Today’s first reading from 1 Timothy has a phrase that
    captured my attention immediately: “morbid disposition for arguments and verbal
    disputes.”

    This captures the tendency that can pervade the immediacy
    of blogging and comboxes—be it discussing Pope Francis, abortion, gun rights,
    global warming, Paula Dean, Dolphins vs. Falcons, etc.

    And inviting others to know Jesus, we need to realize that
    labels (rad-trads, cafeteria catholics…) and name-calling will do more harm
    than good in accomplishing the goal in that invitation.

    • enness

      This!

  • The Deuce

    You know, it occurs to me that Francis has a tremendous opening to further both the core of the faith *and* those other issues the NYT has convinced themselves he isn’t concerned with. They’re so busy seeing what they want to see that their guard is down and they wouldn’t even notice.

    • ME

      I keep thinking that the Pope is going to draw in a lot of people that wouldn’t otherwise come based on the “half-truths” or even in some cases full out lies, that the MSM is reporting. If you read the comments of other Non-Catholics on these websites, so many are singing his praises. I wonder how many will eventually find their way to the church based on what they “think” he says, only to find out the truth once they get there. But my question is, will those that come stick around once they start learning the truth?

      • Gordis85

        I sure hope so as long as the truth is given to them with love and by example and not by sipping vinegar and judgement.

  • Lee Johnson

    This Just In: The Gospel is still news

    SEATTLE — Internet blogger Mark Shea explained today that the new bishop of Rome’s recent comments merely fleshed out a traditional and pre-existing set of teachings and did not break new ground, nor were a break from teachings of the Roman pontiff’s predecessors.

    Pope Francis I is the head of a church founded by Jesus Christ, a Jewish carpenter who lived 2,000 years ago whose teachings are followed by increasingly marginalized people in Western nations and their former colonies. The new pope is a member of the Society of Jesus, notorious for its failure to curb Protestantism, for overheated intellectual rhetoric, and for getting into trouble wherever they go.

    Concerns that the newly elected Jesuit pope would generate controversy have proven to be well-founded. The pope’s comments often require subtly of mind to understand and the ability to distinguish among hierarchies and categories of thought, a skill increasingly lost among the secular media.

    Pope Francis’ latest interview, for example, attempted to establish that there were broader categories of thought, higher principles, and that there were more specific principles that are subsumed under these broader principles. Furthermore, the pope attempted to establish that the lower-order principles, while true, needed to be understood within the context of these broader principles.

    This was not news to Christians with a passing acquaintance of the letters of St. Paul, a Jewish tentmaker and marketing expert who attempted to explain that the new rules must always be understood within the context of love — a love that is understood to proceed externally from a single super-being known by some as “God.” Paul also made subtle arguments about the nature of laws and grace, a paradigm that has employed a hundred generation of writers trying to explain exactly what it means to live under grace and not the law, and yet have rules.

    -30-

    • Stu

      And in other news, we take you to Mr. Bear in the woods…

      -3.14159-

    • Gordis85

      And thus the paradox of our faith as Catholics. I pray for the grace to love first, and to live under grace and not the law, and yet have rules.
      Lord Jesus! Pray for us. Amen!

    • michicatholic

      Your little parody started out very well, then derailed, Lee. The news media reported it and then moved on with their news cycle. Meanwhile the near entirety of American Catholic culture rose up in a massive wave and declared, “Who is this Nazarene?” We are upset because we want to talk about morals and calling names, which is what Catholicism is REALLY about. The pope must be a heretic! Quick get me a rosary and big shot of bourbon. Oh the agony!

  • Athelstane

    I’m going to take a cue from Fr. Longenecker on his comments yesterday, reflecting on the stark differences he observed first hand between Latin American culture and North Atlantic cultures:

    Francis’ message of forgiveness, acceptance and embrace of all works well enough in a Catholic culture where people know they are sinners and have a basic understanding of confession, reconciliation, forgiveness and healing. The problem in translating Francis’ message to post-Christian Europe, Liberal Protestant America and other developed countries is that most of the population either have no concept of sin in their lives or they deny the idea completely.

    I think he’s correct: Part of the Holy Father’s problem is one of audiences. And it’s not at all clear that he grasps how differently he’s being filtered out here in the West – and not just by the New York Times scribblers – when he speaks off the cuff like this. And some of the real gems in there (his talk about confession is really, really superb – go read it now if you have not) end up getting buried in the scrum as a result.

    Somewhere short of traddie epileptic fits, I would like to think that there’s still room to recognize, charitably, when a Pope misses the mark. Popes are guaranteed to be infallible, not impeccable, and not even always prudent or articulate. Eager to try to take authority seriously, often in reaction to progressive (and more recently, extreme reactionary) fomenting against it, we’ve become at risk for becoming real ultramontanists, even chronological ultramontanists, hanging on the very word and action of the incumbent, eager to put the best possible face on every bit of it, and spare no acrobatics to reconcile every tone, every action with that of recent predecessors (when we bother to think of them at all). Well: real life, and the papacy, is messier than that, and some Popes are…simply better than others. We’re spared the obvious cretins and disasters of the likes of Stephen VII, John XII, or Alexander VI, thank God, but that doesn’t mean we always get a Gregory the Great or even a Leo XIII in every conclave now, either. Pope Francis is a decent, even holy man, trying to do an impossible job, and we owe him our (real, not theoretical) obedience and prayers; but six months in, it’s becoming clearer that he’s struggling with discipline in his message, and too optimistic (much more so than Benedict) in his appreciation of the true situation of the Church, especially in the developed world. At best, this might be a kind of teaching opportunity, and I applaud you, Mark, for trying to use it; but it’s one that will place many of us at risk for seeming more Catholic than the Pope in trying to correct the wave of misunderstandings that’s erupted over this interview, if we’re not very careful.

    • http://hjg.com.ar/ Hernán J. González

      It’s amusing (or rather sad) : for centuries, till … year 2013, the Church has been teaching doctrine to all the catholic world from Europe, via european popes. And nobody (no catholic blogger, for one thing) seemed to have any problem with this. Absolutely. Nobody dare to ask if the discourses, encyclicals and audiences of the popes were directed towards (or was supposed “to work”) for a particular culture or for the whole catholic world. Now, a pope is chosen from some remote place he says some things that these catholics are not too happy to hear, and they resort to this: his message “works well for other cultures” (those exotic cultures as Argentina where people know they are sinners … great to know that), not for “post-Christian Europe, Liberal Protestant America and other developed countries. ”
      Bullshit.

      • Stu

        Wow. All because someone points out that different audiences hear things differently based upon a variety of external and internal factors.

        Wait till you get married one day.

        • Andy

          or have children.

      • Athelstane

        Hello Hernan,

        Given the rapid pace of secularization in Argentina and the rest of the Southern Cone, I’m not sure his message isn’t running into serious “filter” problems even there – especially if what I’ve been seeing in the Brazilian media and social media is anything to judge by. The Catholic culture he may have in mind, the one Fr. Longenecker is talking about, the one Jorge Bergoglio grew up with, may not even really exist any more down there.

        I hope it doesn’t seem that either of us in engaging in cultural chauvinism here. I know I’m not. I don’t think Fr. Longenecker is either. I think a lot of us were/are really excited at the prospect of a non-European Pope.

        There’s some good stuff in this interview. There’s also some expressions that are dangerously at risk for being misinterpreted in harmful ways (and that are being so interpreted, quite widely). Even the most carefully crafted papal address is going to get spun. And that’s why there’s a burden to be careful about how those who speak for the Church express themselves. That goes for all of us, but especially the Pope, because he commands the biggest bully pulpit by far.

        • Ignatius

          Athelstane,
          Hernan IS Argentinian. Do you think he needs to be lectured about Argentine culture? Really? Just sayin’…
          And as a matter of fact, your argument about the “different cultures” does sound a bit condescending. It really does.
          Best regards,

          • Bill

            Well, I think one could also argue that Hernan’s response was needlessly defensive.

            • Ignatius

              Bill, we see a lot that argument that goes “he comes from South America, you know? Those brown people over there, south of the Río Grande are just… well, different! It’s just another world! They just don’t understand!”. Which is dead wrong.
              Fr. Longenecker’s illustrates the “South American mentality” (?!) with an example taken from a visit to El Salvador… What is the connection with Argentina and our culture? It is as if I where to say that I can describe the “North American” way of thinking because I went once to Quebec. Or worse.

              • Glenn M. Ricketts

                Actually, weren’t similar comments made when John Paul II became Pope? You, know, he was from Eastern Europe, probably a benighted Cold Warrior, captive of a state-of-siege approach to the Church, unfamiliar with the “progressive” thinking of Western Europe, etc.? Apparently, all “Europeans” aren’t alike either.

          • Athelstane

            All right: You don’t know me from Adam. Do you think that Fr. Longenecker is being condescending?

            • michicatholic

              I think he’s writing something for his column which he probably has to do in order to stay a headline blogger at Patheos. Words or pictures are required; logical content is optional; comments are tallied because they probably motivate the advertisers to pay their bills, thinking that some advertising is getting done.

          • Ignatius

            I most certainly do. If he gets his clues about Argentine culture form a procession in El Salvador he once attended, well… that says it all. The ignorance is astounding. Is like pontificating about Anglo culture in North America form your reminiscence of a day in New Zealand.

        • seektruth319

          Wow, this is not really that complicated. All of this nonsense about Francis’ message being directed to one culture or another is ridiculous. Jesus’ message was given to the Jews 2000 years ago and anyone in the world can understand the basic message today. Francis’ comment was a bad choice of words. I hope he doesn’t really believe what he said. And the idea that the encounter with Christ should be the main focus is correct, but some here seem to be confused about what that really means. The encounter with Christ occurs through the Sacraments and by His divine grace. If a person is engaging in homosexual acts, contraception, or abortion, they are cutting themselves off from an encounter with Christ. Some here seem to believe that encountering Christ means ignoring others’ sin and big hugs all around. Traveling the narrow path does not mean “don’t worry, just follow your conscience and everything will be okay”. Following the “narrow path” and “taking up your cross” are actually hard things to do. Jesus did not have it easy, and neither will we if we follow him.

          • chezami

            “Bad choice of words”. Do you even have the slightest idea what he said?

          • Rachel

            God can use anything He wants to bring people to Him. Sure, the most important way to encounter Christ is through the sacraments but that’s not the only way.

            • michicatholic

              That’s not even the most important way. It’s help for the journey. It’s not the journey.

      • Gordis85

        I agree with you. You are right on!

    • c matt

      Althestane,
      The problem with “his messsage is not directed to our culture” is that, in fact, it is. “European culture” is more than the Anglosphere. Argentinian culture is probably much closer to continental european culture (for good or ill) than the US. So Francis is well acquainted with a “post-Christian European” culture. That is, in effect, what Argentina is much more than the US (recall they have recently enshrined gay marriage on a national level).

      • Athelstane

        The problem with “his messsage is not directed to our culture” is that, in fact, it is.

        What worries me is the realization that his message *is* addressed to us – to Northern Hemisphere cultures (indeed, to the world) – but he’s still not fully grasping just how those cultures are going to receive it.

        This problem is NOT unique to Francis, by the way, though he is more at risk from it, given his penchant for impromptu remarks, and the difficulties of understanding a very rapidly changing (and secularizing) atomistic and materialistic global culture. When Leo XIII defended, for the first time in Church history, an explicit “sacred right to property” in Rerum Novarum (1891), he was making what he thought was a necessary response to the challenge of Marxism and industrial revolution inequities; but what many western audiences heard when he wrote that phrase “right to property” was John Locke, not an (updated) Thomas Aquinas, because that’s the prism most of the West had developed in understanding the world “rights.”

        It’s the same problem, in an even more facile way, when a Church leader speaks about the Church talking too much about abortion and gay marriage – and if we had heard Ray Hunthausen speak those lines, I think many of us would have had alarm bells go off (even if it seems fairly clear to me that Pope Francis is thinking differently than Hunthausen did). You see where he’s going with this, that we’re not just the “Church of No” and we’re not sex-obsessed (and we know who is). But when you say that, so many people, even many Catholics are going to hear it through a relativist prism, “live and let live.” Yes, we have to emphasize that we are a Church of mercy, instruments of a Christ of mercy; but that mercy presupposes behavior that requires mercy in the first place. That is what is at risk for being lost in the spin shuffle. And I think that is what Fr. Longenecker is trying to say here.

    • michicatholic

      Love it. An ex-Epscopalian neo-con cleric makes sweeping statements about South American culture, as it applies to Argentina, based on one short experience in Ecuador. Well. Goodness. There’s the Encyclopedia Brittannica entry on South American culture for all times. Not.

  • Francisco J Castellanos

    Ay caramba! You mean to tell us that Pope Francis is saying that the encounter with the living Christ and the unconditional Love and Mercy of God is the CORE of the Church’s message? That our moral rules and church regulations are a consequence of this and not the other way around? What a ridiculous statement! Reminds me of this other crazy guy who once said “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” or something like that.
    Anyone with a modicum of common sense knows that you gain converts to Christ by hitting people in the head with cannon law books and by insulting them when they engage in sinful behavior. What’s next? Are we expected to go eat with sinners, embrace prostitutes, treat our enemies with tenderness, and turn our shaking fists into open hands? This is truly dangerous and subversive thinking. Or just plain crazy.

    • Ignatius

      You hit it out of the park. Very well said!

    • seektruth319

      No, you are supposed to gently correct your brother or sister and not ignore their sin in order to avoid making them uncomfortable (I recall Jesus making people uncomfortable when speaking the truth) and hope that they do the same for you when you are treading along the wrong path. See Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:25; Matthew 18:15.

      • Marni

        I think the idea might be to first let the person encounter Christ before you correct them, no matter how gentle. I got the idea of “heal the wounds” first.

        • seektruth319

          We encounter Christ through each other. There is no “healing first” to wait for. Ignoring the wound (the sin or fallacy in thinking or belief) allows it to fester and get worse. Am I wrong or did Francis just tell the Argentinian youth about a month ago to go out into the streets and meet the people and make a mess? But on abortion, we should stay quiet because we are obsessed with it? His comment is his comment (no matter how many other words were in the interview), and it was off.

          • Marni

            I don’t think he has ignored it. I think his way of talking about abortion is to kiss babies. Remember he said something very early on about preaching and if necessary use words? That is what I think he is doing, showing us how life, all life is important. Just my opinion.

            • seektruth319

              Until today he had not spoken about abortion publicly – that seems like ignoring it at least until now. More importantly, what I meant was that we, the Church, should not ignore it and as an excuse for doing so cling to this idea of blind love of our neighbors. That is called cowardice. Look to Jesus for guidance. He made people uncomfortable with the truth. Abortion is a non-negotiable issue. There is a way to discuss it and fight against it in a loving and Christ-like way. Francis is clinging to what seems like blind love without wanting to deal with the hard part, which is gently confronting our neighbor and standing steadfastly on these issues. The bigger problem is that he just caused a whole lot of confusion and I can just hear pro-abortion people saying, using both of Francis’ recent comments “I am following my conscience on the issue of abortion and I believe, out of my love for my neighbor, that my neighbor should have the freedom of choice as to whether to have an abortion. It is between her and God.” NONSENSE!

              • chezami

                So the voices in your head are telling you that imaginary people might interpret the Pope. Well then, I’ve heard enough! THE POPE IS A HERETIC!!!!

                • Chesire11

                  It is remarkable to me, the number of people who literally, and without any awareness of irony consider themselves to be more Catholic than the Pope.

                • seektruth319

                  Ah yes, insult me when you lose the argument. Just recently over Thanksgiving a family friend who is very opposed to Catholicism and its teachings said he thinks this Pope is on to something. That was not an imaginary person. Gaining heretics and losing pro-lifers as allies. If that is the Pope’s plan he is executing it well.

              • Gordis85

                Wrong! The Holy Father has spoken before and participated in the Italian pro-life march in St,. Peter’s square back in the Spring of this year. Get your facts right before you accuse him of never having spoken about abortion publicly. I suspect he did not speak in the manner YOU would approve of but he did.

              • Rachel

                Does he have to check mark every “conservative” issue? I think he’s been clear about abortion. There is no need to constantly talk about it ALL THE TIME. Like he said, the Church isn’t just about sex issues. Reducing the faith to that harms the gospel. Binding wounds first and showing love and mercy is much more important.

                • michicatholic

                  Actually having a conversion and becoming a Christian person rather than just having a political view is much more important. That’s what he’s really getting at. This is pure New Evangelization stuff.

                • seektruth319

                  Abortion is not a “conservative” issue. Visit: http://www.numberofabortions.com/. Seems like it is a pretty big issue to me. It warrants discussion ALL THE TIME. And he has not been clear because people are still debating it.

          • chezami

            “But on abortion, we should stay quiet because we are obsessed with it?” He didn’t say that. At least learn to read before letting you head explode.

            • seektruth319

              I was paraphrasing his words based on what many have interpreted them to mean, which is just what you quoted and what people who agree with you actually are arguing in favor of in this forum and others. That pro-lifers focus too much on abortion. That is nonsense. Everyone brings different talents to the table. Some may be good at evangelizing, some at providing for the poor, some at defending the unborn. Catholics have a right to have passion for whatever ministry they choose and should not be slighted by the leader of the Church. Especially given the fact that abortion is a major problem and probably one of the most evil sins that a person can engage in – http://www.numberofabortions.com/. Your disregard for the pro-lifers who feel slighted is interesting. Love the homosexual or the pro-choice person, but ignore and silence those pesky pro-lifers who are too dumb to read. Pro-lifers were insulted, that is an indisputable fact. Whether or not you or the Pope care that pro-lifers were insulted is another issue.

          • Andy

            is way of talking about abortion is accept all people, to value all life and to not make exceptions. By the way he has talked about abortion, both in actions when he met with the Italian Pro-life march and he spoke about the other day specifically and he said in his interview that the he is a son of the church and embraces its teachings. Damn we don’t need to keep on with the culture wars.

    • Glenn M. Rickettts

      But again: Who are these people? Who is it who takes that approach? Where are they? Can you be more specific, without the vague, generalized sarcasm?

      • michicatholic

        Read it again. You didn’t get it.

  • Elmwood

    Does anyone else get the impression that the Holy Father doesn’t particularly care for the “Traditionalist” movement?

    • Athelstane

      He didn’t exactly have the warmest of relationships with them down in Argentina. None of this really comes as a surprise.

      And in fairness, I think there is a lot of blame to go around there. The bishops in Argentina since the 70′s have been a rather stiff and intolerant lot, perhaps overreacting to their previous cozy relationship with right-wing regimes, and the kinds of spiritualities that seemed to accompany that. Anything or anyone still wanting to maintain traditional forms of worship was shoved hard to the margins, rather than accommodated, even more moderate semi-traditional groups like Miles Christi. And the result was that many became more and more embittered, and easy prey for the likes of the SSPX, which has a huge presence in Argentina. I think this was part (but only part) of Benedict XVI’s motivations in trying to bring more traditionalists back into the fold, to defuse that toxicity and suspicion that had built up. I’m not saying that some of the traddies down there don’t have to accept real responsibility for their spiritual postures and actions – especially when dabbling in Holocaust minimization and vicious denunciations – just that there’s blame to go around in the Argentine Church. Treat people badly, they may start acting that badly. The challenge for traditionalists is not to succumb to that kind of anger and even hate.

      So yes, I think he’s walking around with a lot of that baggage. Traditionalists won’t be happy to be painted with a broad brush as “ideologizers,” but I suppose we can take some comfort in the fact that he expressly defended Summorum Pontificum as a good law that he’s willing to sustain, especially when it seems almost certain that he would never have promulgated it had he been Pope earlier.

      • Elmwood

        I guess that’s the problem: he’s likely talking about particular traditionalists rather than all traditionalists, but who knows. BXVI I believe saw value in the traditionalist movement, Pope Francis sees them as goof balls that should be tolerated. I think this has all to do with the history of traditionalism within Argentina.

        My only criticism is that this post vatican ii pastoral approach was pretty much the church I grew up in (i’m not sure that is what he’s advocating). It didn’t work very well in my estimation. I do not hear very much on abortion, contraception and homosexuality from the pulpit. I just don’t understand who are these alleged Pharisees that only point out the sins of others in the church that have become such a problem.

        • ME

          Please keep in mind that many preachers are hesitant to preach about abortion and homosexuality because its not always appropriate to preach on those subjects when there are young children in the audience. People like to complain they don’t preach about these things, but those with children would be complaining that that is an inappropriate topic when there are so many kids in the congregation during masses. And also, not every set of readings is relating to these topics, and they have a different message to relay. I’ve often heard priests make these points regarding the “lack” of preaching on those subjects.

        • Gordis85

          Poor Papa Francis, he just can’t win can he? You so knowingly state as if fact that he “sees them as goof balls that should be tolerated.” Wow!

          How is it possible that the Holy Father would even consider well meaning folks in such a manner? How can he be speaking of the same Lord whom they profess to love and then hold them in such contempt?

          Sorry, but you are more than likely wrong in your sad assertion.

  • AquinasMan

    BTW, Francis spoke on abortion today… will go unreported, I imagine.

    “Each one of us is invited to recognize in the fragile human being the face of the Lord, who, in his human flesh, experienced the indifference and loneliness to which we often condemn the poorest, either in the developing nations, or in the developed societies. Each child who is unborn, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ, bears the face of the Lord, who, even before he was born, and then as soon as he was born, experienced the rejection of the world. And also each old person and – I spoke of the child, let us also speak of the elderly, another point! And each old person, even if infirm or at the end of his days, bears the face of Christ. They cannot be discarded, as the “culture of waste” proposes! They cannot be discarded!”

    • Athelstane

      Of course, that’s a “dog bites man” story, so it will go mainly unreported, alas.

      It’s odd, in fact, to hear the Pope say that he’s decided not to speak out on abortion, when in fact he has spoken out about on several occasions over the last six months, even attending a pro-life march in Rome back in May, in person – which I have never seen before. Perhaps he meant to say: “I’m not going to speak about it at quite the same decibel level.”

      • AquinasMan

        I found the phrase “Culture of Waste” an interesting turn on “Culture of Death”. Would seem to also incorporate (raise up to a new level, perhaps) his words about wastefulness as a crime against the impoverished.

        • Molly

          Or that this culture sees the impoverished as waste.

        • Chesire11

          I agree that was an astute word choice, more likely to resonate with a culture that has been raised to view waste as the only truly mortal sin.

      • Gordis85

        I watched that Vatican Youtube video as the Holy Father made his way towards the Italians who were there in St. Peter’s square that day while having marched the streets of Rome for the pro-life cause. It was a wonderful sight to see him in his popemobile along side them as they cheered him on and he encouraged them all with his blessings and smiles.

  • Zoe

    Fantastic post, Mark. Right on the money.

  • WesleyD

    Even worse than the typical MSM distortion was the editor of America appearing on the PBS Newshour yesterday. Supposedly he was there to explain what Francis’ true message was. He correctly said that Francis wanted to emphasize the core of the Church’s teaching first and foremost. And what is that core? His quasi-explanation avoided one word: Jesus.

    We are so used to seeing abortion and sexual issues as “hot buttons” that we forget that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the true scandal. Francis’ full interview contains “Jesus”, “Christ”, and “Jesus Christ” a total of twenty-one times (not counting references to “the Society of Jesus”). But the editor of America summarized Francis’ message without ever referring to Jesus.

    So what is the MSM’s real obsession, and what does it really avoid?

  • http://canfrancisbringmeback.wordpress.com/ ganganelli

    The interview is about the politicization of these issues. You can’t be pro-life and vote to cut food stamps for the very women most likely to abort.

    The era of the Church as an arm of the Republican party is over.

    • Donna

      You do realize you’ve just contributed to the politicization, right?

    • Molly

      Because how the Church fits into the political world of America is the only thing he was concerned about addressing, for sure.

      • Glenn M. Ricketts

        When did that era ever begin?

        • Glenn M. Ricketts

          Oops, sorry, I was replying to ganganelli. I don’t see that the Church, as he says, has ever been an “arm of the Republican party.”

    • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

      Yeah, I’m gonna have to agree with Glen M. Ricketts. The church has never been an arm of the Republican party, and even if it has, to some extent, been thought of – by some, in some areas, sort of – as being more aligned with Republican policies, that’s only been in the last 10 years or so, and the agreement has clustered around a small range of social issues (which the Republican establishment couldn’t give two sh**s about, anyway).

      The church was much more an arm of the Democratic Party back in the day than it ever was an arm of the Republican Party now.

      • enness

        I didn’t even live through that era and I still know it existed.

        • michicatholic

          Good. You know the world existed before you were born. You’re ahead of at least 80% of the American population on this one, about 20% of them Catholics.

    • michicatholic

      Politics. And not even very accurate politics.

  • Mike

    The encounter of the human person with God in the person of Christ Jesus
    has primacy over everything else. Everything. Else.

    That reminded me of a quote by Fulton Sheen that I have always loved:

    “As Catholics, we do not subscribe to a system of dogmas. We begin with a person, the person of our Lord continued in his mystical body the church. What is faith? Faith is the meeting of two personalities. You and the Lord. There is no adhesion to an abstract dogma, but rather a communion with a person who can neither deceive nor be deceived. The authoritarians start with a party line. We
    start with our Lord, the Son of the living God, who said, ‘I am the truth.’ In other words, truth was identified with his personality. Remember when you were a child. What did you consider your home? just a sum of commands given by either your mother or your father? It was more than that, was it not? It was the love of their personalities. Our faith, then, is first and foremost in Christ, who lives in his mystical body the church. It is only secondarily in the explicit beliefs. If our Lord did not reveal them, we would not believe them. If we lost him, we
    would lose our beliefs. He comes first.”

    -Fulton Sheen

    • Chesire11

      Amen.

    • Gordis85

      Amen! Amen! Amen!

  • Chesire11

    “He is an unexpected and astounding gift to us and I am deeply grateful to God for him as I am for his predecessors. What an amazing Church this is! What an amazing time to be alive. Deo gratias.”

    Amen.

    • Gordis85

      I second that amen!

  • W. Randolph Steele

    This Pope is a pretty shrewd pol. I think he knew EXACTLY what he was doing when he gave the interview and I think that he knew exactly what he wanted to say and how to say it. He believes in a “Big Tent” Catholicism and that’s what he wanted to get across. I think he also knew exactly who his target audience was/is and that’s who directed his remarks to. You bash the MSM all you want,but they got this right.

    • enness

      Let’s not get carried away.

  • ivan_the_mad

    “Uncertainty is in every true discernment that is open to finding confirmation in spiritual consolation.”

    That quote, indeed that whole section, should find its way into every vocation retreat ever.

  • seektruth319

    When the Pope speaks about abortion or any other important issue, his comments should be CLEAR. A lot of life ministry members, my father included, were upset by the Pope’s comments. These people, many elderly and sick, stand out in the South Florida (and all over the world) sun for hours praying for the unborn and their mothers and fathers week after week. And the Pope’s comments were basically, you people are too obsessed with that. Not very nice. Yes, the portions of the interview focused on by the press were a small part of a larger interview, but this was not some clever move by the Pope to get us talking or prove some point. He was speaking his mind just as he did a few weeks ago when he spoke about atheists and stated they should just follow their conscience and God would forgive them or some nonsense like that. If the early disciples spoke like Francis does, NO ONE would have converted to Christianity in the early centuries after Christ died and rose again and there would be no Church. At best, Francis is a bad salesman for Catholicism (trying to placate the masses to fill the pews) or at worst, his “big tent” mentality is watering down the Gospel to please people who may have made a conscious choice to ignore it. In the future, I want to see clarity out of the Vicar of Christ. 12,000 word interviews are, dare I say, vain and unnecessary. Stick with the basics and speak clearly. If we want confusion we can turn on the news and watch what is going on in DC.

    • capaxdei

      Is the mercy of God a more important issue than abortion?

      • Ed

        Yes it is, because when people truly believe in Jesus Christ and experience his transforming grace, then abortions will dwindle away. Just passing laws won’t stop abortions, but an encounter with a loving and merciful God will.
        “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern the will of God- what is good and acceptable and perfect.”(Romans 12:2)

    • Chesire11

      Seriously, what in that interview was unclear?

      (BTW, he did NOT say that all atheists have to do is to follow their consciences. He said that, lacking faith their conscience is the only guide available to guide their actions. There is a BIG difference!)

    • Rachel

      so is the gospel only opposing abortion? Is this what it is? I think this is exactly what Pope Francis was referring to and I think he was very clear in his interview. One must encounter Christ first through love. Sure, protesting abortion has its place but when the faith is reduced to that, then there is a problem.

      • ponerology

        Yeah, why reduce the Faith to defending the defenseless unborn in the womb…it should be about “more” than that; you know, like talking about sodomites and their needs and how we Catholics just don’t understand those needs and how persecuted they are; and how those “immigrants” who illegally cross what used to be national borders are just poor folk looking for a job. It’s too bad that people who populated the Society of Jesus (and similar catholic [sic]) societies for the past 75 years turned a blind eye to what was happening in Mexico and S. America. They aided and abetted the enemies of Christ and the resultant economic turmoil for all those years and now have the gall to say that we are ‘bad’ catholics [sic] if we aren’t happy about losing our jobs to them. (And don’t give me that hog wash about the amerikans don’t want those jobs either.)
        One “must encounter Christ” first through THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, Rach. Go back to your “love” sleep. You need a lot more zzzz time.

        • Rachel

          Seriously, this is what tends to happen whenever someone points out that the faith is more than just being pro-life. I bring up that other issues are important too and the ones you speak of are people on the margins. If we don’t show love to them, to those who need it then we aren’t following the Gospel. I suppose I prefer my “love” sleep what ever the hell that means to your extremely hateful language toward the fringe groups.

          • enness

            While I do not think all issues are equal to our murdering 1,000,000 people a year, I also agree that Catholicism is greater than the sum of its parts.

        • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

          Holy mackerel.

    • David_Naas

      When the Pope speaks about (My Hobby Horse) he should speak Clearly and Firmly What I Want To Hear. Otherwise, he isn’t really the Pope. If he doesn’t, I’ll file impeachment charges.

      • enness

        Yup. If he did speak so clearly, we’d call it cased closed and walk away having heard, absorbed, and learned basically nil. I think he has something to say to all of us.

        • michicatholic

          Yes, and he said it. But people didn’t want to hear it apparently.

      • michicatholic

        Wow, a budding sedevacantist.

        • David_Naas

          Yes, definitely irony-impaired.

          • michicatholic

            No, just sick of hearing this same line and not expecting this rendition to be ironic because there are at least 25 versions of it in this thread that are not.

            • David_Naas

              Sorry. I share the irritation. I thought it was so very Over-the-Top that the smart-alec-ness would be obvious. After looking about at other remarks, you may very well be right — there is no length to which some people will not go in informal schism.
              Perhaps “I” also had better begin to follow Papa Francesco’s admonition and stop mocking those who take issue with whatever the current Pope says. (Saturday -confession- is a long way off.)

    • michicatholic

      Who are you anyway? Some guy in Florida who thinks he can tell the pope what to do and say. Nice. Get in line and prepare to be ignored because you should be.

  • David_Naas

    Friends,
    We got trouble right here in Tiber River City,
    It starts with a “P” and ends with an “E”, and that spells “POPE”.
    Why, this person from Who Knows Where is speaking out and not endorsing the hobby horses WE rode in on.
    Who does he think he is?
    Who died and put him in charge, anyway?
    And, why didn’t anybody ask US before making him the Pope?
    Next thing, these tyrants will be telling us to Listen and Obey what he says!!!
    Heck, they’ll probably want us to actually, you know, *pray* about it.
    Like *that* ever solved anything.
    Everybody knows the only way to (re)act is to go out and do battle with our, I mean, The Church’s enemies. On their turf. Using their methods.
    Who IS this guy?

    • Rachel

      the real problem is he’s just not “merikan”

      • michicatholic

        Almost. His real “problem,” according to many people, is that he’s not part of American cradle Catholic culture with all of its errors and distortions and little cultural peeves. Except it’s not a problem. It’s a good thing.

    • michicatholic

      He’s the pope. Pipe down, peanut gallery.

      • David_Naas

        I sincerely hope you are not irony -impaired.

  • Chris

    27% of Church going Catholics in the US see contraception use as morally wrong.

    http://www.pewresearch.org/key-data-points/u-s-catholics-key-data-from-pew-research/

    We disagree about the glaring need for catechesis.

    Ok…personal encounter with Christ; where do we most personally encounter Christ? We agree that the heart of everything is the Mass (I would hope we agree); but Pope Francis loses me when he then turns around and talks about the ‘enormous liturgical fruits’ of the post-conciliar era. (Vocational crises, parish closings etc etc) If personally encountering Christ is so important perhaps we should take steps to ensure a more efficacious and reverent encounter with our King and Savior that affirms faith in the real presence –instead of treating Him like a buddy we run into during a folk music concert.

    • Andy

      I am trying to recall – how did Jesus meet with people when he walked the earth? Lets see was it at a Latin mass? NO the mass didn’t exist then. Did he demand reverence? It was love wan’t it? He ate with them, drank with them and walked with them. He encountered people where they were. Please for your own sake meet Jesus as you are, not only in the mass, but in the store, in the tavern, in the hospital, in the filed. Try it – you will feel better.

      • Tim

        And, I think your platitudes and bad theology just made me vomit.

        • Tim

          I mean Andy not “and”

          • Andy

            Your response make me laugh – vomit away – a very positive answer – terribly catholic and well thought out. However, Jesus did not require awe and reverence He required us to love God and one another – not bad theology – just one that you do not agree with.

            • Athelstane

              Jesus did not require awe and reverence

              And yet Jesus speaks most movingly of those who *do* give him reverence – starting with the centurion, who was not even Jesus.

              No, Christ is not only present in the Mass. But He is present there in a uniquely true manner.

              • Andy

                I have no argument with what you say – my concern is tat if we ony look to Jesus in the mass and/or require only one specific version of reverence of Jesus from others we miss who Jesus is.
                Yes, Jesus did respond lovingly to those who were reverent, but he responded with love to those who were lost.

                • Chris

                  The Mass is the only acceptable form of Worship to God. You cannot worship Him apart from the sacrament. You are not the center of creation; Christ is and we are nothing without Him. We should strive for transformational union with Christ and remember Him in all areas of life but that only comes from a proper understanding and reverence of Holy Mass. How do you think St. Francis and Padre Pio attended Mass? Do you know better the mind of God than the collected wisdom of the saints that have gone before us? Better than the Apostles? True humility you have apparently attained.

                  • chezami

                    “Offer your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual worship.” – St. Paul

                    One of the marks of Reactionary thinking is the eager desired to turn the sacraments into reducing valves whose principal function is to exclude as many people as possible from encounter with God, rather than to see them as sure encounters with God.

              • michicatholic

                You were doing just fine til you started with the uniquely true manner.
                Consider this: In heaven, mass won’t be necessary. God exists outside of the church building. Really! [facepalm]

                • Chris

                  We aren’t in Heaven.

      • ponerology

        ‘It was “love” (he demanded) wan’t it???’
        That’s a joke, right? He ate and drank and walked with them because He told them that they needed to conform to God’s law and natural law. He didn’t demand “love”. God doesn’t need you and/or your “love”. You need Him and His love. Then you’re getting somewhere. You “meet” him in His way, not on your highway of love.

        • Andy

          read the gospels – the two greatest commandments – you know – love God with all your heart (bad area phrase) and number two love your neighbor as yourself (bad paraphrase). your comment truly saddens me – the hard-hearted ness it displays, and the lack of knowledge about God and Jesus and the gospels must mean a barren life. You are in my prayers

      • Glenn M. Rickettts

        But didn’t He also pitch the money changers out of the Temple because they had profaned the House of God? He apparently had some liturgical standards by the lights of those times, wouldn’t you say?

        • Andy

          liturgy is not what I spoke to – Jesus met people where they – the money-changers profaned the house of God, I agree, they also profaned the Jewish religion – His response was where they were –
          He did have liturgical standards – He was a devout Jew. I am not sure what that has to do with encountering people as they were so He could then instruct.

          • Glenn M. Ricketts

            I was responding to your apparently snide reference to the Latin Mass and other sarcastic comments instructing us on “love.” Was it really necessary to slip that in? Come on, you can do better than that.

            • Andy

              my response was to that of Chris – “off to a folk concert and treating him like a buddy”. I wasn’t attempting to be snide about the Latin Mass which although I do not attend I know the beauty it can represent. The comment about love was in response as well to Chris – he did not demand reverence he demanded love – the two greatest commandments.
              I am sorry you took my comments as sarcastic – that was not my intent.

              • Glenn M. Ricketts

                Thanks Andy, I much appreciate your charity.

                Although I’m partial to the traditional liturgy, I’m actually able to attend Mass in that rite only every 3-4 years, due to parish responsibilities. Over the years, I’ve encountered such sustained, vehement hostility to it, mainly from priests and bishops, that I’ve unfortunately developed a rather low threshold of reaction to negative comments about it.

                But that’s somewhat tangential here, and I’ll look forward exchanging ideas with you as the discussion continues.

                • Andy

                  Glen, thank you for your response – our parish does have a Latin Mass, but I have “large duties” at another mass when an 8o year priest says mass and wants a large man (I am 6’5” and far to large and he feels most comfortable with me) on the altar with him so he can genuflect in a fashion and move around the altar and feel safe.

                  • Glenn M. Ricketts

                    Splendid! Isn’t amazing how many ways one can nobly serve God? And after reading this, I’d have to say He’s also got quite a sense of humor! Keep up the good work.

              • michicatholic

                People with compulsive issues about the Latin Mass can see snide where none exists. It’s what they do. It’s the poster child for their anger.

                • Glenn M.. RIcketts

                  May I suggest that you read the entire exchange between Andy and myself? It’s usually a good idea before plugging in a recorded message.

      • Chris

        Jesus isn’t walking the Earth anymore and if we want to encounter Him in the flesh we must attend Mass. The Last Supper wasn’t the institution of the Eucharist? Interesting… (someone should inform Blessed JP II of this). I recall Him having some fairly unkind words for those who claimed to represent God the Father while embracing falsehoods. To those who were willing to listen He told parables but He never bent from the truth (John 6 anyone?). Latin hung on the Cross with Him (along with Hebrew and Greek); this made it sacred–that is unless we just want to go go full bore Protestant and no longer show reverence for the True Cross.

        God does not act superfluously. Everything that happened in the gospels happened for a reason. We are here (the Church) to lead people out of this fallen world to Heaven so that they can enjoy eternal happiness. Yes that means showing love, but love, Godly love, not effeminate over emphasized compassion (false compassion) which masquerades as love.

        • Andy

          I find your comments arrogant – I embraced no falsehoods – I never said do not tell the truth – what I did was respond to your willingness to say that we do not encounter in Jesus in each other. If you cannot see Him in one another than you seem to lead a desolate and lonely life.
          I do not know that meeting people where they are is effeminate – it takes much courage to go to the places where people are in pain. It takes empathy to see their pain and make it our own. Jesus took on our pain when He became man, He accepted people as they were and then instructed them.

  • Rev. Anthony Cekada

    The clear impression I got from Francis’s interview is that he is garrulous gasbag with stray bits of ’60s modernist platitudes rattling around in a rather empty head. Those who promoted these ideas then INTENTIONALLY spoke in a confusing way in order to be avoid being nailed for denying defined Catholic doctrines and moral principles.
    This is just what Francis is up to — the wink-wink, nudge-nudge approach to undermining traditional Catholic faith and morality. The National Catholic Reporter folks, veterans in using this approach during the post-Vatican II era, have figured this out and, naturally, are ecstatic.
    The professional Catholic “conservative” commentariat — Shea, Akin, Keating, Burke, Berg, Graydanus, Zuhlsdorf — are all still try to give Papa Bergoglio’s words a properly “traditional” spin. But they won’t be able to play this game for long, because he’s a a loose canon.
    Soon, it will become obvious that the emperor has no clothes — maybe if Francis strips off his white cassock during his visit to Assisi, where he promised to give us a message about how “the Church must strip herself.”

    • capaxdei

      And professional sedevacantists will run around pretending to be relevant and insightful.

      • michicatholic

        Along with about 98% of the other Catholics. Business as usual.

    • wlinden

      “But they won’t be able to play this game for long, because he’s a a loose canon.”

      Would that be, uh Canon 135?

      • Almario Javier

        Zing! What about the canon on, say schism and heresy? I mean, at least the SSPX is trying to reconcile themselves with the Holy Father.

    • Chesire11

      Irony duly noted.

    • Lori

      Thank you! When the moral issues of our times are changing our laws so we have same sex ‘marriage’ homosexuality needs to be discussed. Instead, there’s never an editorial on this issue or on abortion or birth control but instead an editorial on comprehensive immigration reform. Teaching about why Catholics believe what we believe is teaching about the beauty of Christ. Ignoring these issues while pushing social justice legislation tells me the priority of our leaders which is less about Christ and more about gov’t money and power.

      The largest Catholic hospital association just signed up to get federal dollars to be navigators for Obamacare and the hospitals newsletter wants hospitals to work with their local churches to help sign people up. So, the Church disagrees with the HHS mandate but the hospitals and the church will get federal dollars to help sign people up for the immoral law.

      Comprehensive Immigration Reform is another over thousand page bill that puts the nail in the coffin of our republic. The Church will be the main navigator for helping the new ‘citizen’.

      So, the church leaders like to sound loving while behind the scenes are working so America can become a welfare state. The sheep are being led to the slaughter…while the Church cries religious freedom but already pays for abortion and birth control in NY and in California. They cry religious freedom but take federal dollars to help navigate Obamacare that makes them provide abortion and birth control.

      I cry because the Catholic Church holds such tremendous beauty..Christ and His truth but what is being prioritized by our leaders isn’t Christ but a social justice organization trying to survive through our tax dollars, business grants and tithe. Feeding the poor and welcoming the stranger seems to be their main talking points both at the pulpit and in the media. Let’s not talk about sin….which is the reason why Christ came..to die for us.

      • Rachel

        Ummm, last I checked, the Church likes to take a both/and approach. This is exactly the sort of thing that Pope Francis is talking about. They go together you know…love for the poor, immigration reform, social justice, pro-life, pro-family, etc. Its not either/or and nor is it about left vs. right either.

        • Lori

          I agree Rachel. The problem is I’ve seen a major push politically from the USCCB regarding social justice in legislation like universal health care with ‘abortion neutral’ language and comprehensive immigration reform with silence on moral issues like repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. The moral issues are not taught at the pulpit but the social issues of feeding the poor and welcoming the stranger are.

          If our Church did not collect over 2 billions dollars of our tax dollars for CAtholic Charities alone, I’d see they are following their teaching on subsidiarity.

          If our Church refused to pay for abortion and birth control in their union employee’s health insurance, I’d realize they are serious about their belief that abortion is an intrinsic evil.

          If our Church did not allow Dignity USA chapter in many churches then I’d believe they are serious about the teaching that homosexuality is disordered.

          Instead, over and over again, our leaders, through their politics and lack of governing has allowed and actually enabled and cooperated with intrinsic evil.

          They never have a problem pushing the loving message of feeding the poor…especially when they get billions from our tax dollars, business grants and our tithe. But publicaly writing editorials or speaking in secular papers and or media about birth control, abortion or homosexuality has been sorely missing. People who disagree with church teaching do not go search out a priest to get his view point. How many times have I seen an editorial in our local paper from the president of Planned Parenthood sounding like the angel of light and bishops never write anything. Planned Parenthood gets a 1/4page editorial where the average citizen gets a paragraph. The average citizen voice is an opinion where a bishops would have much more room to teach and his teaching would be the authority of the Church. Silence. Instead there’s an editorial on immigration reform…

          Fives years of hearing our teachings are a private, one on one matter, when our media is teaching an opposite view seems superficial. Five years of reading and hearing from bishops and priest it is up to us to teach might be right but they are the leaders and are trained and anointed for a time such as this! It certainly not a time to be silent.

          There’s an imbalance of what they want to teach. Dolan himself said they’ve done a poor job of teaching on birth control. What’s funny is when the HHS mandate was a big issue, he did his best to down play birth control and push religous freedom…even though he’s since withdrawn his subpeona because the NY diocese pays for abortion and birth control for their employees health insurance.

          • Rachel

            Again, they go together. I think that the emphasis on some political/moral issues have distorted what the Faith really is. Perhaps it is time to stop the culture wars. By talking at the culture instead of healing, we have harmed more than helped. As for as the bishops, honestly I don’t see the point in protesting the repeal of don’t ask don’t tell. Those were one of the things that probably needed to be repealed. As for as the HHS mandate. Again, it looks like it will be tied up in the courts. I don’t think it is the big huge persecution tool that people make it out to be. Perhaps that’s why the bishops aren’t talking about it as much. In fact, I think that the over emphasis on it,especially last year, didn’t help any. As for as five years hearing that our teachings are private, how so? Just because Obama and a few others in his administration acted as if our teachings are “private” doesn’t mean that they are. See, let’s get beyond politics. Your posts are just rehashing the same stuff about politics but what Pope Francis is talking about is completely beyond that. Obama will go just like all the other presidents when his time is up. I guess I just don’t care about politics anymore. As for as the HHS mandate being some kind of persecution tool, seriously, please look at the actual history of the US. There are worse things that have happened in the past.

            • Lori

              My point is what Francis is saying isn’t new…many churches already ignore the sins and instead help the poor and have positive programs. Living the faith is being compromised for love, tolerance and money. There is very little fighting the culture and so we have over 50% of Catholics voting for Obama. We have 50% of Catholics that think same sex ‘marriage’ is fine. Catholicism is the love and welcome church and everyone can believe what they want. That’s why Dolan can call Andrew Cuomo, the man responsible for getting same sex marriage in NY and also promoting the most liberal abortion laws in the country, a “Catholic in good standing”.

              • Rachel

                Of course what he said isn’t anything new but apparently it needs to be said more publicly than it is. Remember that He said that the Church is a field hospital. There are many hurting people out there who don’t feel that they can belong in the Church let along follow Church teachings. We need to reach them. Constantly harping about the political situation will only turn people off.

                • Lori

                  Well, I’m hoping a few bishops and priest recognize there are people that see what they do which is the opposite of what the Church teaches. Their focus should be on Christ and his people not on their political chess playing that gets them more gov’t money and entangles them ever more into our gov’t. Gov’t money is not ‘charity’. REdistribution of wealth is not charity but welfare.

                  • Rachel

                    Lori, I don’t know if everything they do is exactly the opposite of what the Church teaches. As for as redistribution of wealth, that can be interpreted in many different ways. The state does have a role in providing a safety net. It is simplistic to say that any program that addresses economic inequality is “welfare”. Speaking of government money, what about all those failed banks who got millions of taxpayer dollars which they used to give out bonuses to the CEO’s, etc? Isn’t that welfare? Why is it that when the bishops or others bring up economic disparities, its always dismissed as welfare or socialism? How is that Catholic teaching? If you read the papal encyclicals on economics and social justice you will find there is criticism for crony capitalism and what is also called corporatism. Those things are very evil as well. The bishops are right to address these issues and its not against Catholic teaching.

                    • Lori

                      1) The state’s role was never to provide a “safety net.” The job of the state, with the permission of its members, was for national defense and infrastructure, both of which could be done better on a larger scale for obvious reasons. Everything else is better left to the principle of subsidiarity, which is a Church teaching.

                      2) Because of fallen human nature, crony capitalism and socialism (wealth redistribution) are both forms of greed. As some of our country’s founders noted, a healthy system depends on the morality of its members.

                      3) The Church’s collection of alms was always based on voluntary giving, urged on by a sense of moral behavior as in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The only coercion, if it could be called that, was the urging to want to save one’s soul. The Church does stand behind the idea of giving everyone a chance to work and support themselves, e.g. personal ownership of property. Even Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead not for keeping their wealth, but for lying to the Holy Spirit about their generosity. Also, the Bible specifically addresses, in Thessalonians, the idea that he who is unwilling to work should not eat. It was known even then that socialism doesn’t work.

                      4) The bishops are right to address the roots of social evils, which generally are moral, since they care for our souls, and we are taught the great value of charity and all the virtues. They should address these issues as much for the perpetrators as for the victims. They often have addressed such things as labor unions, property ownership, the works of mercy, in the papal documents, for instance. But any time you have a third party deciding how someone else’s money should be spent there is great potential for temptation and sin. For this reason the state should not get involved in works of charity, since the state is morally neutral or worse. A glaring example of this is the state’s determination that abortion is a health care “need,” and so everyone should pitch in with their taxes to help alleviate the need.

                    • Andy

                      Lori
                      The church teaches solidarity is vital along with subsidarity. It also teaches that the government is to provide for people when the problem is over-arge. Your allusion to Thessalonians has also been interpreted to mean that those who do not follow wok at what God teaches will not eat in Heaven. It really has little to do with socialism, which by the way is how te disciples worked – holding all in common.
                      Your comments above about redistribution ignores what s happening in America – real redistribution of weath upward.

                    • Rachel

                      Thank you Andy. That’s what I was trying to say

                    • bobington

                      solidarity is being used as a hammer to smash subsidiarity. authoritarians and the lazy love this.

                    • Andy

                      to be real subsidarity as become all that the mammon worshipers speak about – subsidarity without solidarity allows people to say – not my problem. solidarity has not smashed anything, subsidarity has been replaced by mammon worship – redistribution of wealth and all that crap. the church s clear – all people have a right to a life of dignity – those who perch subsidiarity forget this.

                    • William J. Walsh

                      Lori,I don’t think this is consistent with the papal encyclicals I’ve read. The platform of the Republican party and the Church’s social teachings are inconsistent, full stop. It just so happens that much of the other party thinks the Church is a retrograde and corrupt enemy of mankind. When I said I was tired of politics above, I really meant it. There hasn’t been a political leader on the national level I can feel any real enthusiasm for in either party. But we can’t cop out on civic engagement.

                    • Lori

                      William, the Republican party platform is much more in line with Church teaching than the Democratic platform. I think the Catholic social teachings are not inline with our Republic. They’ve always envisioned themselves as part of the gov’t because they were for over one thousand years in Europe starting with Constantine. Anyway, I’ve read both Dem and Rep. platforms and wonder how any bishop could call himself a democrat. Of course, if they’ve been trained in liberation theology or Alinsky’s community service model, then chaos and redistribution of wealth is pandamount to the naive idealistic world of socialism and ultimately communism. They’d like to be the local hub for gov’t redistribution of wealth as the UN has ‘sharper teeth’. (Caritas et Veritas) They are soo naive or they are evil and just want gov’t money to give to others while they take 10%. Catholic Charities recieves 4 billion a year and 65% is from tax dollars.

                      By the way, the book, “No Higher Power, Obama’s War on Religious Freedom” documents the Catholic diocese of Chicago paying for Alinsky training for Obama. ACORN was started with funds from our church. If you look at the 2008 election, ACORN received a lot of money from CCHD. Of course, funding to ACORN stopped due to embezzlement issues.. http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/11/13/acorn.catholics/

                      I pray things are turning around, now the bishops see the havoc Obamacare is creating and the over turning of DOMA. I read a Rhode Island bishop just switched from the Democratic party to the Republican party.

                      Of course, who can we trust? Our Church leaders seem to have compromised and accepted sin in many ways while taking gov’t money. The Republican party has too many RINO’s now. All we can do is pray a lot and let our voice be heard by writing to our representatives letting them know what we want and that we are watching how they vote. We can also inform others when there is an important vote to contact their federal and or state reps.

                      God bless you William. Politics isn’t fun and I pray we will get a few heroic figures to put this country back on track. The regulation being put through by Obama’s executive orders and Obamacare stipulations are killing business and our economy which equates to more and more people out of work. It’s horrible but sometimes I think that is what Obama and the church want, everyone looking to them for food and medical. UGH!

                    • Rachel

                      so what if Catholic social teaching isn’t in line with our republic? I think that’s a good thing because our republic is based on anti-Catholic ideology to its core. We are to side with the Church first before politics or anything else

                  • michicatholic

                    They’re still playing the games of the 19th century. It doesn’t really have anything to do with following the Gospel in anything but a very peripheral way. It’s kind of comical to watch, even though it’s really dangerous and people outside the Church don’t like it. We’re going to get the tar beaten out of us if we don’t stop it.

                    • Glenn M. RIcketts

                      Again, who is doing that? The Clergy? Most laity? Please cite some examples beyond a few sour souls in schismatic chapels.

                    • michicatholic

                      Glenn,
                      The apparatus of American Catholicism, including many clergy and many laity. Both groups–clergy & laity–get a lot out of it, to the extent that they are plugged into the self-referential culture that is American cradle Catholic culture.
                      Laity get a sense of righteousness out of it, and the perceived justification of their cradle Catholic background. They get to claim that they are, as the song says, the chosen people, better than others. This, regardless of the fact that they really have all the cultural (sexual) habits that the general public has, but they don’t draw attention to that.
                      Clergy get vastly increased authority and attention out of it. It can be used to bolster fund-raising and all kinds of things, and it is. No one appears to lose as long as you stay within the self-referential system. Meanwhile, it looks like collusion to those outside the system, and it will backfire, guaranteed. In fact, it’s already backfiring.
                      It’s not possible to have the kind of awful EARNED reputation Catholics have in the general culture, while parading around with our heads in the air like llamas, calling people names–and get away with it. If we don’t stop it we’re going to get lambasted and it will be no-one’s fault but our own.

                    • Glenn M. Rickettts

                      Sorry, I’m still lost. A lot of unconnected, rapid-fire assertions that seem unrelated to what I’ve been trying to make sense of. What do you mean by the “apparatus of American Catholicism?” The bishops? Their bureaucracy? What “self-referential culture?” I’d like to respond, but to do that I’ll need to understand what you’re saying, and as of now I don’t.

              • William J. Walsh

                It bothers me too when Cuomo is called a Catholic in good standing. I feel like the prodigal son’s brothers I guess. In my gut I want to see Pelosi and the VP denied the sacraments. But like Francis said, my first instinct is best ignored, and I should try to discern. Just because I don’t understand why they want to call themselves Catholics doesn’t mean that they might not actually become Catholics if I’m patient. And that is what we should want.

            • William J. Walsh

              I sort of agree, but not really. The HHS Mandate isn’t the end of the world. The truth is what the Obama administration saw before it decided to double-cross Sr. Keenan, and that is that most “Catholics” use birth control. We’re not going to win that fight fighting the HHS Mandate when we lost it in our parishes. I’m tired of politics too, but I can’t be blind to the hostility to and contempt of my faith that really does lie behind the Mandate, and the campaign in the press to vilify us. I agree with what I heard in the Pope’s interview, and that is that the love of God has to come first when I interact with those who are not trying to conform their lives to the Catholic ideal, not the rules. I needed to hear that because I’m not very good at it, and do tend to get angry with Catholics who make it seem like the issues on which I want to take a stand are optional for Catholics and thereby to confuse a lot of people. What’s happened in the past can happen again–don’t be naïve. But we have to live in hope and I have to do a better job of being a Christian. When did being a scold ever work? Sure, I see that, but it bugs me when I’m told that this approach is something new. No, this has been it all along, and that’s what annoys those who want to hear doctrine from the pulpit.

              • enness

                I have friends who are more than willing to see me sold up the river for “free” pills, and my fellows run out of their livelihoods in the dubious name of tolerance. It’s not a small thing.

                • michicatholic

                  Then don’t make it worse by antagonizing people and calling them names. People don’t like that and aren’t going to take it much longer.

              • Rachel

                I’m not blind to the hostility either but I think that constantly fighting and being angry about the situation isn’t going to help either. Again, we are NO Where near the kind of persecution that is going on in other places. We have it very, very good here. Like you said, we need to do a better being Christians and I don’t think any of us do that enough :(.

            • enness

              I don’t think we will have any such luck. The culture wars will not stop with unilateral surrender — they will stop when the aggressors want it to stop.

              What is at stake with the HHS mandate is nothing short of the first amendment. It’s not just a Catholic issue, but there are people who have no idea that it exists; I just spoke with one today.

              “There are worse things that happened in the past”? Yeah, somebody else always has it worse. It’s not a contest. The mandate is not a Good Thing by comparison.

              • michicatholic

                Ah, yes, the conversation rolls around to the mandate, which of course, it always will, given the fact that this is what most Catholics think that religion is–partisan politics with an ethnic flavor.
                This is what the pope was warning us against. Hello.

            • michicatholic

              The problem is that if you stop the culture wars, you might not know what to say next. What is your religion really about, apart from culture wars and calling other people (like Protestants) names? Do you actually know?

          • enness

            Assuming I accept the premise, you know that the Church speaking on DADT would have only confirmed to secularists and cultural Catholics that they were in the right, since all you need to do to be sure of your moral rectitude in those circles is do the opposite of whatever the Big Bad Catholic Church does.

            I do agree that NY’s seeming inability to stand up to the union is a big disappointment.

      • NYace

        I have not heard a homily on homosexuality, other sexual moralities, birth control, or abortion in memory (over 30 years.) Has anyone? So, this talk about over-speaking on issues is a press issue – not a issue within the walls on Sunday mornings.

        The Church has no canonical or dogmatic interest in solving Mexico’s problems. And the hospital association is headed by renegade nuns; so, discount its action as mainstream.

        Can we have a manly clergy and manly leadership? Please?

        • Biff Spiff

          Come visit us in Peoria.

        • enness

          I am not under the impression that his point was limited to the clergy.

      • michicatholic

        Yada, yada, yada. No one in the culture is listening to advertisements about the glories of the Catholic church. Our reputation is dirt. We already saw to that.

    • Rachel

      I suppose the sedevacantists are the sole guardians of tradition? Seriously, how many cardinals are around, according to you, who could validly elect a pope? Pope Francis, whether you like it or not is the pope. I don’t believe he is being a “gasbag”. In fact, I think he was very clear and gasp..possibly traditional. Btw, define “traditional”. Last time I checked, being traditional was following Catholic teaching and staying in communion with the Church, not leaving it thinking it was too “modernist” and looking for the supposed “pure remnant” in some “independent” strip mall chapel somewhere.

      • Rev. Anthony Cekada

        Well, though you may think he was clear, I see a whole new branch of post-Vatican II theology springing up — Bergogliology, which tries to puzzle out “what the Holy Father REALLY meant.”

        • NYace

          The ‘great’ Francis, who arrived with such fanfare for his ‘humble’ approach, has made his nth mistake already. And the ‘Jesus has saved you’ line sounds rather like 1517. I hear a big ‘uh oh’ throughout orthodox Catholicism.

          • michicatholic

            Another “more Catholic than the pope” contender.

          • michicatholic

            If Jesus hasn’t saved you, all your “religious behavior” has been in vain. Salvation through conversion is the point of the Christian religion in the first place. It has been so since the beginning. Read the bible once in a while.

        • enness

          Like we never, ever had to do that with Benedict…riiight!

        • michicatholic

          Honey, you’re in a combox trying to puzzle out “what the Holy Father REALLY meant.” What does that say about you?

    • contrarian

      Hi Father Cekada,
      I wonder if there’s a way to meet somewhere in the middle here. In other words, there are those who say that there is absolutely nothing unique in the message, and this is entirely–entirely!–confirmation bias of the MSM and the Catholic-left, given the imaginary narrative that they want to go with, and what they want to be true.

      I think that’s probably wrong.

      It seems that those on all sides should agree that, at the very least, the phrasing is different here. The question then becomes: is the new phrasing deliberate, so as to allow for multiple interpretations, so as 1) to allow progressives to hear what they want to hear and run with it (and to ‘make a mess’), *but also* 2) to allow for plausible deniability by the pontiff and the conservative crowd? Or!!– is it the case that the pontiff doesn’t have any funny business in mind here, but just doesn’t choose his words very carefully?

      It seems to me that the answer has to be one of these two. I’m not sure we can keep on going with the idea that there’s nothing to see here, and that the pelvic left is losing their minds over *nothing*.

      • Rev. Anthony Cekada

        The problem, Contrarian, is that it’s hard to come to a middle ground in understanding Francis’ discourse because his mode of expression is so hazy. Like professors of his generation who taught me, figuring him out is like trying to nail jelly to the wall.

        • contrarian

          HI Father Cekada,

          I can see that, sure. To clarify my point: the idea that Francis is crystal clear, and that the media is purposefully *changing* Francis’ to appear ‘soft’ or ‘ambivilent’ on the pelvic stuff, when he is actually unambiguously and clearly defending the Church’s positions….well, that’s a bit hard to believe.

          The message itself is often times hazy.

          If one starts with the unfalsifiable premise that the pope cannot endorse heresy, then…well, precisely because the words are not clearly *heretical*, I think there are ways to clarify Francis to be a stalwart defender of orthodoxy. And such clarifications well might be right.

          And anyway, since I recognize Francis as the pope (as opposed to my esteemed interlocutor), then I guess I gotta see such clarifications as correct. :)

          But if you see him as ‘soft’ or ‘ambivalent’ on certain doctrinal matters, I think that his words are such that this vision is reasonable, and I don’t think an MSM ‘spin’ to this effect is necessarily malevolent. It might not be correct, ultimately, but it’s not *crazy* to read him as soft or ambivalent. In other words, I don’t think it’s entirely fair to call out the MSM as being a bunch of idiots or evil distorters, nor do I think we should see the sedes, etc., as offering a crazy thesis.

          No doubt, many profs and theologians in the VII generation wrote in a hazy way for the express purpose of endorsing heresy while still being able to maintain plausible deniability (which is why I’ve always appreciated Hans Kung: there’s no ambiguity in his heretical ideas). One might therefore criticize Francis for adopting a medium that has so many times in the recent past been used by academics in the Catholic milieu to softy endorse heresy (wink-wink, nudge-nudge).

          At the very least, I might say to Francis: “Help a brother out here, Your Holiness. Do you read the papers? Forceful and unambiguous condemnation of sin doesn’t have to be ‘unloving’. We can be savvy without being sneaky or hazy.”

          But alas, I’m not an advisor to the pope. Just a combox warrior. Sigh.

        • michicatholic

          Are you sure you understood what they–and more importantly, the pope–was saying?

    • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

      The point about having a living pastor with authority to pastor is that he can teach us something we need to hear, we can try to understand as best we can, and then we can come back and ask him to clarify exactly what he means. Otherwise, the Protestants are right and we don’t need anything more than just the Bible.

      • michicatholic

        This is an interesting comment. Your pastor is the only thing that keeps you from being a Protestant?

        • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

          If it wasn’t for the bishops, we’d all be Protestant.

          • michicatholic

            Seriously?
            They are all that’s standing between you and Protestantism?

            • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

              What I mean is, to be without an authoritative church is to be Protestant. What you believe is to some extent immaterial (not completely, of course).

              • michicatholic

                And you think this is the only difference between being Protestant and Catholic–that you have someone to tell you what to do?
                What if they told you to go lay down in the road? Would you do it? Don’t laugh–some of the worst chapters of the sex abuse scandals involved Catholic authority figures telling people what to do and they did it. Because after all, they had someone to tell them what to do.

                • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

                  Sure. You can be a Protestant and a sacramentalist. You can be a Protestant and affirm the Real Presence. You can be Protestant and deny sola fide. What you can’t do and be Protestant is submit to the judgment of the whole church (especially as expressed by the pastors of the church in union with the Bishop of Rome.)

                  • michicatholic

                    Wow, you have quite your own little branch of the CDF going there. I’d be jealous except for one thing–it’s total BS.
                    If your bishop tells you to drop your drawers, it has no religious content. Just being told what to do and complying with it without thinking has no religious value. None whatsoever. If it did, we’d be canonizing the canine winners of the Westminster Kennel Club Best of Breed Competition because they always do what they’re told.

                    • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

                      I think I just got rebuked by Mark for a comment in bad taste, which rebuke I will accept. I was joking, michicatholic.

                      In any case, I don’t think you’re understanding me, since you just made the same point I was trying to make in your latest post. So I’ll just leave this here.

                    • michicatholic

                      Ok, Jon, I’ll take your word for it. No worries.

                    • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

                      Cool.

                    • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

                      There’s weird cross posting going on, here, but I don’t think we disagree all that much, michicatholic. Let’s just drop it.

                • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

                  What? Of course I’m going to laugh. That’s not the kind of judgment you submit to the bishops of the church. “Should I lie down in the road?” Good grief. I’m talking about matters of belief. What do we believe and why do we believe it? I mean, seriously, do imagine a council of the church is going to be like, “And if he that taketh not off his pants for the pedophile: let him be anathema.”

                  You don’t “do what the priest says.” You believe what the Catholic Church proposes for belief. You acknowledge that it’s not your privilege to decide what is the Faith and what isn’t.

                  • michicatholic

                    And yet, people did. And exactly in this way. They obeyed and when they were told to keep their mouths shut, they did. When diocesan chanceries hired lawyers and people were told they had a religious obligation “not to harm the Church,” they did. Until it finally got so bad that it couldn’t be kept a secret any longer. We’ve paid out billions of dollars and we’re still paying with no end in sight.
                    The fact that a *need* exists for someone to dictate to you what to do so that you can be a passive participant is not a sign of religious orthodoxy. It’s a sign of pathology. And it leads to nothing good.

    • enness

      Disrespectful name-calling aside, you know this because…? You have it on what authority…?

    • michicatholic

      Nice. Rev, huh? Rev of what?

  • jenny

    Excellent article ! I completely agree that the Pope highlights the danger of blindly obeying rules ( obsessions ) while kicking out from the church those people who do not obey those rules yet, because they do not know or they do not have a clear understanding of the rules. In order to bring people to church, we have first of all to get them in the church, otherwise how are we going to even talk to them? in the streets?

    • Rachel

      Well, I guess talking to them in the streets is a start. After all, isn’t that what Pope Francis exhorted the kids to do at World Youth Day about getting out there and making a mess? :)

  • David_Naas

    Interesting comments. Every time, I see a lot of snarling backbiters who think they were given a chrism of criticizing whatever the Pope does, especially if he isn’t riding THEIR Holy Hobby Horse. Yet, they profess to be loyal Catholics. I’m sorry, His Holiness doesn’t need YOUR approval. This outfit ain’t a democracy, see! Wake up and smell the incense. The Catholic Church survived the Borgias, and it will be around long after USA political issues are gone. And, it is not, NOT going to change to fit what a bunch of professional whiners demand in com boxes.
    (While Oliver Cromwell is not my favorite person, what he said to the Long Parliament is one of my favorite quotes, which is always good advice for all of us, “I beseech ye, by the bowels of Christ, Think — Ye May Be Wrong.”)

    • Glenn M. Ricketts

      At the risk of dismissal as a backbiter, etc., what of those – such as myself – who have read, read and re-read the Pope’s comments and attempts such as those here to place them within tradition and come away bewildered and distressed? Who, I wonder, are these “obsessed” individuals?

      Believe me, I’m very attentive at Mass, but I’ve apparently missed the weekly explications on contraception, the fiery condemnations of homosexuality, or the routine press conferences when American, European and Latin American bishops so ringingly re-affirm the Church’s teachings in these areas. My question still is: What is he talking about?

      If that makes me “disloyal,” I guess I’m stuck. I’m trying though, believe me i am.

      • David_Naas

        Brother Glenn, Being confused and/or concerned does not make one a backbiter (or worse.) I have encountered certain people who claim to be Catholic, but who are effectual Protestants in their rejection of the teaching authority of the Holy Father, and indeed, of the magisterium. Trust me, you do not show the signs of being one with them.
        If you have missed the sound and fury, count yourself blessed. I have encountered several of these people, who tend to hide behind pseudonymous names and type imprecations on all who do not submit to *their* pronouncements. Trust me, they are out there.
        If you are still trying, you are doing exactly what all of us are supposed to do, and that is the very point Papa Francesco was making, I believe. Rather than the “idols of the marketplace”, we are supposed to, in the words of the old Protestant hymn, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His Glory and Grace.”
        I’m trying too.

        • Glenn M. Ricketts

          Yes, I think I know those to whom you’re referring. But in my experience, they largely inhabit comboxes, not pulpits or Bishops conferences, which is why I’m still dazed.

          • David_Naas

            Understood. It helps to keep in mind that America is not (contrary to popular conceit) the world. I saw somewhere that the Catholic Church has nearly a billion people. Most of them are not in the continental USA. There’s a lot going on out and around the sphere that Yanks know nothing about.

            • Glenn M. RIcketts

              Yes you’re right, although I wasn’t referring exclusively to the US. I can’t see where other national bishops’ conferences have spoken at all either. Have I missed a ringing re-affirmation of Humanae Vitae/ If that’s the case, please advise.

          • michicatholic

            They are just being careful. People in public have more to lose than people in comboxes.

            • Glenn M.. Ricketts

              Very careful it seems. So careful that I haven’t heard anything at all. Besides, don’t you simply have to speak the Truth and take the heat sometimes, as Paul VI did in 1968?

      • michicatholic

        Well, maybe you don’t know “tradition” as well as you thought you did.

        • Glenn M. Ricketts

          Please explain? I can’t tell if you’re being serious or sarcastic.

  • jenny

    I think that when the Pope talks about “obsessions” and “small- minded rules” he is also addressing situations in some countries in Europe, Africa, Asia where some very zealous priests are forbidding people to come to church, just because at that particular point in time , those people are not in compliance with the church teaching . A subset of those people are women condemned by priests because they got “impregnated” , while the men still come to church because they are not pregnant – these cases are little documented because the women are not even allowed to report them in writing to the church or civil authorities;
    Rejected by the church, abandoned by the man who raped them, these women turn to homosexual acts in desperation and hurt.. In USA, Canada these kind of situations are hardly known….but the Pope talks to the Universal Catholic church, not only to a neat and clean church.

    • Biff Spiff

      Amen. Americans always think it is about us. It isn’t always.

      • michicatholic

        But sometimes it is.

    • michicatholic

      He’s talking to the whole church and what he said does apply here. Nice try, but no dice.

  • jenny

    When the Pope talks about “confessional is not a torture chamber” I think that he is talking about harsh condemnation that people receive there sometimes; these people, and I am one of them, go to confession with deep hurts, deep secrets, embarrassment . What is the point of scarring them away….instead of offering some hope or advise……
    Personally, I “lied” in confession for 38 years, keeping a secret from the age of 8 till I turned 46 – now, after a long healing process, I can make it public – I was raped by the good friend of my father when I was 8 year old. That changed my belief in God completely : I hated my self, I was afraid of God, of men in general, and of priests in particular…
    How come no priest noticed that something was wrong with me, with how I was trembling there, pale and almost speechless ? Now I know why: priests told me that “impure deeds” which in my mind as a child, included rape, are grave sins….. the priests made me understand that being raped is a sin for a woman…..
    Vivat Papa !!! He has the courage to talk for people like me……

    • Rachel

      Thank you for sharing this Jenny, I can’t imagine the sort of pain you have dealt with but honestly, this is where the Church, especially the priests, need to do better. So many people leave the Church over being treated terribly by priests or other Christians and this needs to stop. I have my own issues with God, ie. I have a problem seeing Him as a loving Father. Instead, I’ve seen Him as a stern judge for most of my life and I still struggle with that. I’ve also believed that He must be punishing me because I didn’t fit in the mold of the good Catholic girl who only desired to be a mother. I don’t think I can have children now since I’m pretty much infertile but I’ve thought that God must be punishing me for desiring a husband first instead of children like the other Catholic ladies I’ve spoken with have said. It hurts and even though I’ve been to confession for it and some priests have said that I didn’t sin, I still can’t shake the idea that I must be since I have no kids and I’m a Catholic married woman. Its not exactly anything that people have said to me personally but its just the vibe I get perhaps, that I don’t belong :(

      • LeticiaVelasquez

        I feel the same way, and I have children. That’s one of Satan’s lies trying to keep you from good honest joy God gives married couples. Try Napro-technology to conceive and if not, adoption is a wonderful choice. Be a mother, its God’s gift to marriage!

        • Rachel

          I hate NFP and we have tried getting tested for infertility but the expense of the tests got to be too much. As for as adoption, same problem. For us working stiffs, it is difficult to have the money available for an adoption or for fertility treatment. That makes the issue worse :(. So, we are looking at possibly being a childless couple which I know isn’t the ideal marriage and a bad example of what a Catholic couple is supposed to look like. That’s at least what I feel. I know that probably doesn’t sound right but it isn’t easy. The Church has so much for young families and the very old but for the young, single men/women, childless couples, and others, the Church is a very alienating place. I’m not sitting on my duff though. My husband and I sing in our choir but we still feel out of place, at least I do. I don’t feel like I really belong :(.

          • Pete

            Dear Rachel, you belong. Praying a Rosary for you today!

          • Lydia

            Rachel, You really belong because you are child of God. You are baptized, you belong to him, so you belong in His church. My heart goes out to you. Something you said struck me “So, we are looking at possibly being a childless couple which I know isn’t the ideal marriage and a bad example of what a Catholic couple is supposed to look like.” This is definitely NOT Catholic teaching. Children are a blessing, but Church teaching is that if a couple cannot have children then they can be fruitful in other ways and they should let God lead them as to what that way is. A childless marriage that has God in it IS an ideal marriage. It may not be the norm, but with God in the center it still is ideal. Like Christ who carried His cross, you are carrying your cross. You need to let that cross bring you closer to Christ, not take you farther away. God uses situations that are not what we want in our lives to bring us closer. I know it is difficult that the church may not have much for childless couples, but in reality our society does not have that much specifically for couples with infertility. I will hope that you will search in your diocese help for a group for those struggling with infertility (which we did for awhile) or perhaps you and your hubby could be called to start a group. I also hope, while you don’t like NFP, you will give NaPro a try if you have not really done so. At the very least you and your hubby need to have some serious spiritual direction, either by your own parish priest or another you trust. If you haven’t already done so, I would Google “Catholic infertility” for help online and while you may have seen it, there is a book that might help “The Infertility Companion for Catholics: Spiritual and Practical Support for Couples.” Remember God Loves YOU! (((((hugs)))))

            • Rachel

              Thank you for your response Lydia but I had a bad experience in an infertility support group so I don’t think I will attempt to get involved with one again. I admit that its added to the lonliness

              • Vonda Zimmerman

                Wow Rachael…I think you are going to have to do something radical–live each day at a time. I read that we are not meant for future thinking–it messes us up. I think you are going to have to look at your situation and figure out what you can do practically. I hope that you have friends at church. I would volunteer for teaching religion. You can be with kids that way. I would volunteer with a crisis pregnancy center or a hospital and see what there is you can do to MOTHER another person. See what kinds of things you and your husband could do to be with children together in a mentoring way and that way you would still be sort of parenting together and get to experience that part of each other. If you have nieces or nephews–mother and father them in a special way…you have soooo many options to live a good married life and fulfill your desire to parent. SO many–we all have our problems and we have to figure out practical ways to help us solve them…I have a lot of kids but ALWAYS money troubles…losing jobs–laid off–no fault of our own, but God has always seen us through and I became a master couponer and worked second jobs and we raised kids that had to be understanding and figure out ways to make do. I lost all of my dreams for a real home (we live in a trailer for goodness sake! Not exactly how I was raised –upper middle class) and any sort of security for the future–we have never had it and I am reconciled to remaining hard working and crafty! We are looked down on and even some of the kids struggled with it being bright and put down by others…I always tell anyone who is feeling down –GET UP AND MOVE! Do things you CAN do. I used to feel sorry for myself all the time for what I didn’t have and the list is enormous ! I bet it is bigger than yours :) but what helps is doing it. Do something to help someone else first and maybe you will find what will Help YOU! That works!!! I wouldn’t worry about your feelings etc. Once you are really living a life –your feelings will follow. I used to suffer depression and whatever but honestly–I got sick of it. I got up and MOVED around. Looked about and saw there was a lot I could do and I did it diligently–diligently –a huge word! and wella–no depression anymore–just tired! Loneliness–I don’t understand! The world is full of people who need your love and your friendship–literally FULL of them–go and find them!!! They need you!! You don’t get to ex yourself off because you can’t do something the WAY you want to or think you are supposed to. I don’t get to be bad mom because every day I get up and there is a new problem I have to deal with. That is not an option for any of us. Nuns are mothering people everyday and they have never given birth…they don’t even have a man next to them–they still mother and they are married to Christ but it is not the ‘regular’ way to do those things. You are going to have find an extra-ordinary way to share all the things that make you YOU! I hope the very very best for you and your husband!! God bless you!

          • guest

            Rachael, There are many ways of being open to life. having children is only one of them. Also, you were right to desire a husband first, as he should come before any children. Rest assured, you and your husband BELONG to the church of Jesus! Your parish needs you. There are so many ways to give, to be active in the ministry of the laity. God bless you much on your journey.

          • enness

            You are not a bad example. You sound like you know what it means to pick up your cross and carry it, which is easy to say when you’re like me and have had a relatively easy life (and don’t I know it).

    • Lydia

      Jenny, I’m so sorry you had to go through this (((((hugs)))))). You are so brave to talk about this. I’m also so sorry that the priest did not realize that you were going through such horror. Not trying diminish any fault of the priest, but unmarried men don’t necessarily “read” little girls well. Little 2nd and 3rd graders can be nervous of Confession, though I’m not sure why he would be talking about impure deeds to 8 year olds. Plus molestation was not spoken about then.

      What a horror you have been through. I hope your father’s friend suffered some sort of punishment and that you have had support and counseling to deal with this terrible deed that man did to you. I think of myself, we are of similar age, I’m 48, and the times were so different. Our parish luckily only had wonderful, caring priests and I think most priests today are trained to be loving and compassionate. I do hope that Confession now is a time of true cleansing and hope, and I’m so glad the the Pope has given you more of that hope.

    • enness

      I am sorry. That is a terrible burden to have borne for so long.

  • MeanLizzie

    Deeply grateful to God for Francis, and for Benedict, too, whose humble obedience and service to the church brought him forward.

  • LeticiaVelasquez

    I was grateful that the Holy Father made me re-think my emphasis when discussing the life issues. I will try to forever put them in the context of the saving, healing relationship we have with Christ. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us..The world had backed me into a corner, but with Christ, we don’t have to have a spirit of timidity, but of boldness.

    • enness

      I agree, Leticia.

      None of us can be unrelentingly negative, all. the. time. Maybe it means that once a week, instead of excoriating some politician, I show a picture of a happy baby. Show people what we are for instead of just what we are against.

      • michicatholic

        How about you put the pictures of the babies (dead or alive) away, stop calling people names and do something Christian once a week. Feed a poor person, read the Bible, have a conversation about Jesus with someone.

    • michicatholic

      Or you could actually read the Bible and stop the senseless yakking about morals. People aren’t listening because they’ve been called names by Catholics for years, and we have some of the nastiest and most pervasive scandals on record. Our credibility is shot. Don’t make it worse.

  • PaulHalsall

    You are trying to ignore what the pope said.

    • Biff Spiff

      It looks to me like he actually READ what the Pope said, as opposed to his critics.

  • Sam F

    “I am not a Christian because it ‘makes sense’ or because someone sat
    down and diagrammed it for me. I am a Christian because I have been
    loved deeply and unconditionally by Christians…” It’s worth mentioning that while that statement is no doubt true, it’s not always the case. Believe it or not, I am a Christian because it makes sense. As for that love thing… it seems rather scarce.

    • michicatholic

      Yeh, this is a cradle catholic give-me-my-binkie thing. Catholics don’t really know–or care–what really drives converts about 99% of the time. They like to hear the stories because they like to think that if someone would actually *choose* to be Catholic, it might not be so bad after all.

  • CS

    Nice article, Polyanna!

  • NYace

    good try; but he’s borderline heretic.

    • Biff Spiff

      We’ll be sure and consult you on who is and is not a heretic when you become Pope.

    • chezami

      Random comboxer locuta est. Causa finita est.

    • michicatholic

      And yet another guy who thinks he’s more Catholic than the pope.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    I don’t think people can keep blaming the media. One can blame the media if this were the first or second time, but now how many times has Pope Francis had to clarify himself? Every other week? There’s an issue with his style here. I don’t recall Pope Benedict XVI having to clarify himelf very often. What Pope Francis said in the interview is mostly spot on. But there are those ocasional lines that discombobulates everyone, Catholic, non-Catholic, and the media. He can’t keep going on like this.

    • Rachel

      I don’t think he needs to change his style. That’s the point. We just have to adjust. He hasn’t said anything wrong, really.

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        Rachel, if he keeps doing this there’s going to be a point where he’s going to lose credibility. He said in the interview there was a time when he wasn’t disciplined. I don’t think he still is. These aren’t planned chaos. The fact that he had to come out the next day and speak to pro-life issues shows he had created a mess and couldn’t let his previous statements stand.

        • enness

          Does it really? Or was it simply the proper time and opportunity?

          • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

            The very next day after his woerds exploded? No that wasn’t planned.

            • Jacob Suggs

              His words exploded in the way they did because the news media is stupid when it comes to religion. You can’t stop speaking truth because the media is stupid if you ever want to be able speak at all.

              • michicatholic

                They’re not any stupider than anyone else, including a lot of Catholics. The fact of the matter is that many members of the media are lapsed Catholics.

                • Jacob Suggs

                  True enough, which is unfortunate, but it doesn’t change that last part: you can’t stop speaking the truth just because some people won’t get it. You do the best you can to be clear, but no matter what some people won’t get it, and you just have to deal with that as it happens.

          • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

            I don’t know if it matters. My thought as I was writing the previous comments is that he may lose Catholics while pleasing the media. Not every catholic reads the internet interpretations of the Pope’s comments. They read the media.

        • michicatholic

          Another guy who thinks he’s more Catholic than the pope.

          • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

            Was an insult warrented? Speak to the issue.

    • enness

      Pope Francis, why won’t you learn the lesson you’re supposed to learn? Are you not all right upstairs? /sarc

      Sheesh.

      Do you not remember the condom incident?

    • michicatholic

      He can keep going on like this, and he will keep going on like this. It’s why he was elected.

    • Jacob Suggs

      “Pope Benedict says condoms OK!”; “Vatican says illicit attempts at ordination equivalent to child abuse!”: “Pope Benedict says moon made of green cheese!”

      The media gets everything about Catholicism wrong, and has for as long as I’ve been bothering to glance at the articles. They will continue to do so. They don’t get it. They never will get it.

      You’re freaking out over nothing. Here is a plan that should, if followed, quell your concerns: Whenever you see a headline that says “Pope Francis says X,” completely ignore the X. Then, find the official translation of his words. Read those words. Get out your copy of the CCC. Compare them.

      Then realize that everything is fine, and move on.

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        I realize the media gets catholicism wrong. I guess they got it wrong under BXVI as well, but to the other extreme. OK, fair enough. We’ll see, but this is becoming a habit.

  • Athelstane

    Sherry Weddell writes:

    I would certainly agree that JPII was highly apostolic and exceedingly personal but he was also a major intellectual while Benedict was a loving but deeply introverted intellectual who needed lots of private space. Francis is a cultured, literate man but not a public intellectual and that is really different. He is first and foremost an apostolic pastor – not an intellectual…

    I respect the heck out of the work that Sherry does, and that makes it all the more disappointing to see her engaged in an exercise of running down the previous two Popes by unfavorable comparison to Francis. Do we have to do this? Do we have to build up Francis by taking gentle (and in the case of some others, not so gentle) jabs at his predecessors?

    The obvious qualifiers – Sherry no doubt loves and respects JPII and BXVI to some real degree – don’t mitigate this exercise here that much, and they won’t help her cause with those of us who really do admire either or both. How did “intellectual” become an apparent handicap for a Pope? If Sherry didn’t mean that, I really think she had an obligation to clarify what she meant.

    What ensues is what can look to some eyes to be an exercise in chronological ultramontanism. The focus will always be on ThisPope, and his 260+ predecessors will be moved off the stage and our regard, as necessary, at least when there’s any discrepancies between them that aren’t immediately resolvable. If we do that, it’s hard to see how one can really criticize those of us who frankly (but respectfully) simply assert that a previous pontiff was better in some important regard than the incumbent. Popes are infallible, but they can and do and have made mistakes. Are we capable any longer of admitting that with an active Pope, without being labeled as dissidents?

    There are some very good things in this interview by the Pope, one or two of them even excellent (especially his discussion of confession) but there are some statements that I and many other reasonable and obedient Catholics really wish had not been made, or at least said differently, ones that are already placing some of us on the front lines in difficult positions. Is it really so bad to say as much?

    • Sherry Weddell

      The idea that I was trying to run down JPII and B16 by comparison is utter rubbish. I was simply stating important ways in which everyone agrees they were different from Pope Francis. They were public intellectuals and he is not. What surprises me is that you didn’t presume that I was running Pope Francis down when I noted that he was not an intellectual. They are all real human beings, that is different men with different gifts and to acknowledge that is not a lack of either love, courtesy, or respect.

      • Athelstane

        Hello Sherry,

        What surprises me is that you didn’t presume that I was running Pope Francis down when I noted that he was not an intellectual.

        Well, in fairness, the language you used didn’t seem to indicate that you held intellectuals in high esteem, or at least not in this context. That is to say: An “intellectual” might be well and good in a writer or theologian, but in a Pope?

        And it’s hard to read a comment like this one about Benedict in a positive light: “…a deeply introverted intellectual who needed lots of private space.” A judgment, by the way, I would question – “introvert,” perhaps, but I think those who know him would certainly question “deeply” and “lots of private space.” It’s hard to see many Catholics, especially in these circles, highlighting qualities in those terms as desirable in a Pope. Question: Is only Francis “first and foremost” an apostolic pastor? Were Benedict and John Paul II first and foremost apostolic pastors? Because the way you spoke, it seemed very much like you were trying to distinguish Francis from either of them in this way.

        I said up front that I didn’t doubt that you held JPII and BXVI in esteem; I’ve read your writings and comments over the years. But the language you used up above made it hard for an uninformed observer to believe that. All I am saying is this: In working to support, explain and transmit the current pontiff, we need to be careful in our language to be sure that we’re not running down his predecessors, even if it’s unintentional, because heaven knows, there are plenty of Catholic figures doing it every day right now quite intentionally. And it doesn’t seem to me that the wording Mark quoted above passed that test.

        • Jacob Suggs

          You left out the most important part – “Different charisms really matter.”

          Look, different people are different with different strengths and weakness, and it is not an insult to point out when different strengths are causing different types of good effects.

          As for ‘and it’s hard to read a comment like this one about Benedict in a positive light: “…a deeply introverted intellectual who needed lots of private space.” ‘ – I suspect that’s because you aren’t familiar with many deeply introverted people, or how introversion works. I can personally attest that such attributes can be a major strength, just a more subtle one.

          • Athelstane

            Hello Jacob,

            Look, I realize that every Pope is different. They all have their own gifts, and yes, charisms.

            But it didn’t seem to me that this was how Sherry was speaking (whatever her intentions, which I am trying to assume were more charitable than it came across).

            Yes, some people might not see any difficulty at all with “…a deeply introverted intellectual who needed lots of private space” as a trait in a Pope; but I wager if you had put it on a survey to a typical sampling of Catholics in February, it would rank quite low on the scale of desired traits, and many would call it a positive disadvantage as far as they were concerned.

            Again, I think care is needed in how we speak of Pope Francis’s predecessors, to avoid casting making unfavorable comparisons of them in the project of building Francis up. Some Popes are better than others, and no one questions that; but I like to think the vast majority of people who populate Patheos comboxes like this think quite highly otherwise of JPII and BXVI.

        • michicatholic

          Catholics are neuralgic on this subject because it comes too close to their superstitions. EDIT: Old Catholics are neuralgic on this subject because it comes too close to their ethnic superstitions. Young people are either at the non-denom down the road or sitting at home twiddling with their i-phones. They don’t view themselves as an oppressed immigrant minority with inherited obligations that they have to observe. Those days are over. If they don’t *get* it personally, if it doesn’t make any sense, they trashcan it.

          • Athelstane

            The old ethnic church in America is long dead.

            You can find a handful of old ethnic parishes which still use the mother tongues, but you have to dig for them now.

            But I’m unclear what you mean to say in tying this in to this question of how the Popes are distinguished from each other, at least as Sherry has laid it out.

            • michicatholic

              Neuralgic on the differences between recent popes. Francis is a great evangelist. It’s his specialty. The old ethnic Church doesn’t like evangelists because it finds them threatening. They look like they’re going to disturb the enshrined cultural order.

        • Sherry Weddell

          Athelstane: Never once in my life have I regarded the term “intellectual” as put down for someone nor have I ever used in that way. I haven’t spent 17 years working with Dominicans because I regard the intellect with distain or suspicion. I loved and revered JPII and a good deal of that was for his theological work. I’m sorry – but you were reading your own reactions into my words which were very careful, completely neutral, and entirely descriptive. And yes, people who know Benedict well do describe him as deeply introverted which was also manifestly clear when he was in public situations. It was entirely descriptive and no put down at all. Many of the most gifted and profound people are deeply introverted. Benedict didn’t eat his meals alone because he was an extrovert. And of course, I was told that he was the most brilliant mind in the Catholic Church by a Roman insider long before he ever became Pope. I am not casting aspersions on anyone by acknowledging their very obvious human differences. I did not run his predecessors down even a little. Not even unintentionally.

          Sherry Weddell

          • chezami

            It is… telling… that the term “intellectual” is regarded as a term of derision and not description.

  • faithandfamilyfirst

    “The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.”
    Yep. Looks to me like PF is simply reiterating what the natural law instructs. Far from overturning the natural law, he is saying that these laws (the moral consequences) follow from a relationship with Jesus Christ. In other words, as non-believers come to know Christ, and become believers, they will naturally accept the moral norms that our Lord has lovingly provided to us. They will embrace those norms and will live according to them, for that is what ultimately makes us free. And, yes, those norms include avoiding abortion and homosexual conduct. It may very well be that the lies told by our much-despised (and rightly so) media will cause otherwise adamant non-believers to take another look at the Church, and so discover the Truth that is present there.
    For those “conservatives” who are fretting over the destruction of the Church at the hands of our earthly shepherd Pope Francis, just remember the words of our Lord to our first Pope — You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Let the media distort and lie about what Pope Francis says, because what he is doing is preserving the Church, and bringing more members into the fold while doing so. He is doing God’s will, as Popes often do. Funny that.

    • michicatholic

      Nobody in the culture buys arguments about natural law. Save your breath if that’s all you’ve got.

      • faithandfamilyfirst

        Save my breath? I’d give my last breath if it would turn even one person to Christ.

        It’s not a question of “buying” arguments about the Natural Law. The Natural Law forms the basis of all properly-ordered civil societies. The problem is that classical thought is no longer taught. Even our high school teachers and college professors no longer understand it. But we must return to it or we will forever be stuck with the make-it-up-as-you-go-along mentality the currently plagues our society. If we had a proper understanding and appreciation of the Natural Law, then abortion and “gay marriage” would be unthinkable

        • michicatholic

          Yeah, and if your problem is a philosophical one, you’d better learn some philosophy to talk about it. Natural law talk goes nowhere in our culture. Full stop. It’s part of the echo chamber. Full stop.

          • faithandfamilyfirst

            I don’t disagree with your main point that the culture currently does not understand or accept (or perhaps just doesn’t know about) it. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Natural Law is the linchpin of a well-ordered society. In other words, when it is discarded (or forgotten or ignored or just plain rejected), society itself breaks down. So we end up with courts interpreting the Constitution not in accordance with Natural Law, but according to the individual judge’s own “feelings” of what is right and wrong. Thus, we get “the right to privacy,” abortion on demand, and “gay marriage.” You may say that it is a non-starter, but if so then this society will not (indeed, cannot) improve.

            • michicatholic

              I don’t see what your objective is here, probably because it really isn’t about the aims and purposes of philosophy at all. If you want to go off in the corner and talk bad philosophy to yourself until you fall asleep, have at it. No one is going to stop you. But if you want to talk to other people, you’re going to have to actually attempt to communicate with them, which means having some terms, assumptions and definitions in common. Until then, you’ll just aggravate the heck out of them and make it just that much more likely that we’re going to get the molasses kicked out of us by the general culture. We’re asking for it and if we ask for it, they’re going to give it to us. And that’s only logical.

              • faithandfamilyfirst

                You reference to “bad philosophy” suggests to me that you
                too reject the Natural Law. I don’t want to put words into your mouth, so correct me if that is not right. If it is correct, then you could not be more distant from the solution to the problem. Like it or not (and I assume, for you, not), the Natural Law was (and remains) the foundation of our Constitution. The founders understood (and built into our laws) that all persons have inalienable rights, which means that those rights cannot be taken away from us by any government agency. The Natural Law is the reason why we have laws against murder or fraud. In other words, murder and fraud, being contrary to the Natural Law, are properly codified in our criminal and civil laws. When the Natural Law is rejected, all sorts of perverse laws creep into the system, such as abortion, the homosexualist
                agenda, etc.

                We as a society will thrive only if this understanding and
                implementation of the Natural Law is rediscovered and put back into our laws. Until that happens, this nation
                will continue on its downward spiral. You can’t dismiss it so easily, because it is the backbone of this nation.

                This is not simply a matter of semantics. The terms, assumptions, and definitions that you are seeking are ingrained in the Natural Law.
                It appears as thought we disagree on this point, and neither is going to convince the other. It is not worth continuing this back-and-forth. I’m not going to respond to future posts, so have at it if you like.

          • rodlarocque1931

            yes and it PF really was speaking from a natural law, classical philosophical perspective, he wouldn’t allow his words to be so casual and open to varying interpretations.
            It is clear he has no love of St Thomas, natural law or anything else traditional. He is just doing whatever he wants willy-nilly and making it up as he goes along, based on some kind of spiritual gut-feeling.

  • Kevin Rice

    I always relish the articles where you and I see eye to eye, Mr. Shea. This one is particularly delightful, and far superior to my own annoyed and disjointed piece at the Catholibertarian blog. I wrote my article after my wife pointed out how the media was portraying the words of His Holiness from the recent interview, but neither she nor I panicked. We know how the secular media is. They live for those interviews. It is the perfect opportunity to put a hand up the pope’s cassock and work his mouth like a puppet. They do it every single time a sitting pope gives an interview to the media. It’s like a game to them with bonus points if they can use his own words to make him say exactly the opposite of what he meant. I can’t believe how Lifesite news bought into that secular narrative on what the pope was saying hook line and sinker. Ridiculous.

    • michicatholic

      It’s no longer about us vs. the media. We sink or swim on what we do next. That’s the real meaning of Pope Francis and the New Evangelization.

      Living in the Catholic ghetto and “going with the flow” is dead because the ghetto is gone and “going with the flow” is not conversion, and therefore not compelling enough to matter to people. What happens now is anybody’s guess, but it will have to come from Catholics in the pews or it won’t happen at all.

      • Kevin Rice

        When I read your comment, michicatholic, I feel like I should be motivated and inspired to some action if only I knew what you were talking about.

  • Don Campbell

    Mark, is the key sentence to which you refer even a true statement of the Catholic faith? Isn’t the actual teaching of the Church that one must respond to God’s grace to be saved? People hearing the Gospel for the first (or 100th) time have not, in fact, been saved unless they “repent” (to use the first statement of Jesus’ public ministry in both Matthew and Mark) and “believe”. Is it really right to tell people they have already been saved without any response by them. I fear there was much of this thinking in the Pope’s prior statements about atheists and in his letter in Repubblica last week. For example, his statement that the goodness or wickedness of our actions is determined by whether we followed our conscience (as opposed to any objective standard) seems truly “revolutionary” to me.

    • Jacob Suggs

      “For example, his statement that the goodness or wickedness of our actions is determined by whether we followed our conscience (as opposed to any objective standard) seems truly “revolutionary” to me.”

      There is nothing revolutionary here at all – though you are confusing two issues here, the wickedness or goodness of the actions and whether or not our actions were sins. Google mortal sin and you’ll find 3 requirements – grave matter, full knowledge, and full consent of will. This is ancient.

      Grave matter – whether an action is objectively right or wrong – is fixed and doesn’t vary from person to person. The others do. And how they do so depends partially on the person’s conscience.

    • michicatholic

      Are you more Catholic than the pope now, Don?

  • Don Campbell

    While he didnt name names, there is much in Pope Francis’ interview that can only be read as a stinging repudiation of the past two papacies. Small minded rules, a small chapel, obsessed with homosexuality, hiding in a history that can never be recovered, inward-looking, and on and on and on. So he thinks JPII and BXVI have led us to the brink of a precipice where “the entire moral edifice of the Church will fall like a house of cards” unless we accept his new direction? Frankly, that’s not a fair characterization, and it was uncharitable and hurtful. I wonder what the Catholics defending these characterizations would have said if the words had come from a leading Protestant?

    • chezami

      Absolutely ridiculous. And drinking deep of the spirit of factionalism that cries “I am of Cephas. I am of Paul. I am of Apollos.” Absolutely tone deaf to what Francis is saying.

    • enness

      I think I can admit that if it came from a Protestant, a fair number of us would have shut down and tuned out immediately. That’s why it’s good it came from our Pope.

      • michicatholic

        Catholics don’t listen in public to anything Protestants say. In private, well that’s another matter.

    • Jacob Suggs

      It sounds like you read headlines, not interviews. Clearly Pope Francis has a different focus and style from the previous two Popes (though the focus on people rather than rules is not new – even if the fact that the press is picking up on it is), but that is not the same as repudiating the other two.

      A can be different from B without insulting or contradicting it.

    • michicatholic

      Oh please.

  • Don Campbell

    And one more thing! Is there any moral difference between our duty to speak up for the unborn and our duty to speak up for the poor? The unborn are innocent, defenseless, and have no voice other than ours? But I suppose we are now to conclude its not necessary to talk about them “all the time.” I wonder how Pope Francis would react if he were told to quit harping about his own apparent obsession, the poor, because it’s too divisive to “talk about them all the time.” He says he wants a “poor Church for the poor.” Well, setting aside the question of whether the Church should be “for” any particular group, I would point out that the unborn are poor, too.

    • enness

      If I literally talked about that and nothing else all the time, I would soon be talking to no one but myself — and what’s worse, all that chatter would desensitize people to the horror. There is a time for everything.

      • michicatholic

        Welcome to 2013. That’s exactly what’s happened.
        That’s why he’s talking about it. Give the man some credit. He doesn’t talk just to see his mouth move.

    • capaxdei

      Would to God that Catholics spoke too much about the poor!

    • Brian

      Seems to me that Jesus talked about the poor all the time. Shouldn’t his Vicar do the same?

      • Catholic4life

        Jesus said, “We will always have the poor with us”, being poor is not a sin, to some, they choose to be poor for the sake of the kingdom. Abortion is a Grave Sin!! Francis has caused scandal inside and outside the church with this Horrific statements lately. If we were not obsessed with abortion the abortions clinics wouldn’t be shutting down. If we are not obsessed with abortion, how many babies would not have their God-Given right to be born!! One last thing, considering his horrific remark on Gay Priests, “who am I to judge gay priests, that statement alone is cause for outrage!! Francis has just insulted and mocked every poor child who was sexuality abused by his ‘who am I to judge’ gay priests! The Vicar of Christ is suppose to be leading the faithful not going with the flow with the secular world. Francis has abandoned the faithful Catholics and has gone in search for the Heretics and Infidels! The errors of Vatican II, have not been more evident as they are today! Pax Christi

        • rodlarocque1931

          Just to add that the heretics and infidels seem to be giving pope francis rave reviews and many kudos, but how many, if any, will actually convert?
          It is interesting to read com boxes on MSN or Yahoo news, they tend to read “Wow! Love this pope, though I am not Catholic and never will be.”
          Way to go Francis, the world loves you, but does it matter? No one will convert and live the moral law because you said something about the poor or are making gays feel more at ease when they walk into a church for a historical tour.
          One would think he would care more for traditional Catholics, the people that follow the moral law, have many children, encourage vocations to the priesthood and religious life among their children and who actually donate their widow’s mite.
          But on second thought instead he says we are ‘restorationists’ out of touch with the modern times, having made an ideology out of the traditional latin mass.
          Disgraceful.


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