Weird how things change

Time was when Lefties prefaced their rant in rejection of Church teaching with, “I was raised Catholic and I can tell you…” Now Righties preface their rejection of Church teaching with “I consider myself a faithful son/daughter of the Church, but…” (Total props to Nicholas A. Scoville for this trenchant observation.)

We now find ourselves in a historical moment where the most vocal hostility to the Church’s teaching is coming from the people who, for years, prided themselves as “faithful conservative Catholics”. That’s weird, but there it is.

The mark that something has gone sour with “conservative” contempt for the Holy Father is that “docility” is consistently derided as “rigorism” or “ultramontanism” and the suggestion “How about we try listening to the pope instead of looking for ways to shoot him down and find loopholes and attack him at every turn” is seriously described as “being more Catholic than the pope”. Naturally, anointing oneself the defender of the Church against the pope is not seen as being more Catholic than the pope. Nor are the Defenders Against the Pope super-interested in consistency so long as they can obtain a condemnation in the name of Purity. A few days ago, I remarked that I thought the Legionaries should be dismantled and destroyed. This is what we call a “prudential judgment”. A real one I mean, not an excuse for blowing off the Church’s guidance. Something Catholics can disagree about. A particularly zealous Defender Against Francis swooped in to play a game of “Let’s You and Francis Fight” in which it was immediately demanded why I was not calling for Francis’ head since he was not dealing with the Legionaries the way I thought. Why wasn’t I outraged? Why didn’t I speak out against our heretic pope? Etc.

My response was that I’m not upset and outraged because I might, you know, be wrong and I assume the pope knows more stuff than I do. I made the same assumption with Benedict the Idol of Reactionaries, who likewise tried to salvage the Legionaries, not to mention demonstrating supernatural patience with Reactionaries–because he is a saint, as I think Francis to be as well.

Weirdly, the complaint then becomes that it is “ultra-montanist” and somehow sucking up to the pope to not be outraged about a difference in prudential judgments with him. This from the people who chalk up their entire campaign of hostility to the pope on the all-excusing power of the magic words “prudential judgment”. But most hilarious? The charge of cowardly refusing to differ with the pope is leveled when I am differing with the pope. Because the real complaint, of course, is that I won’t play “Let’s you and Francis fight” and grant the Defender’s premise that Francis is a disaster from whom only the Defenders can save us. Indeed, I think him a great gift to the Church–not least because he does not let the whines of the denizens of Fortress Katolicus slow him down a bit as he leads the Church in leaving the Fortress and going out into the world.

But, of course, if the pope is getting an interested hearing from the unclean riff-raff outside Fortress Katolicus, that only shows he eats with tax collectors and sinners and is therefore proven to be exactly the danger to the Church the Pure think he is. It doesn’t at all demonstrate that the Pure need to rethink their bunker mentality.

Here’s the thing: for years the joke was that, no matter what the pope taught on the MSM could be counted on to do a word search of everything from Veritatis Splendor to Spe Salvi looking for the words “sex”, “abortion” and “homosexuality”. The New York Times read Deus Caritas Est, a beautiful treatment of the God who is love, and could only remark in puzzlement that it said nothing about the Pelvic Issues. Where their treasure was, there was their heart.

So: Francis releases an apostolic exhortation that is *entirely* about the Joy of the Gospel. The whole focus of the document is on the fact that we have glorious and exciting Good News to give to a world that is in desperate need of it. It’s a mighty and beautiful call to the Church to take up a golden opportunity to bear witness to Jesus Christ with love, unity, and genuine *happiness* over the fact that we have access to a Life that has conquered sin, hell, and death. What could possibly be more wonderful news that that?

The world has taken notice of this and, as it toils along in the bondage of sin, has found the pope to be a message of hope that many are listening to in a way they have not done for years. It’s a willing audience, stirred by the Spirit within to approach the message with respect and the dawning hope that maybe there is something to the gospel after all.

And what has been the overwhelming focus of the Thing that Used to be Conservatism? Money. And wounded vanity because, in the courage of diagnosing various things that might block the Proclamation, the Holy Father dared to suggest that a) some conservative sectors of the Church are not All That and he dared to suggest that how we treat Mammon might have just as much to do with discipleship as how we treat Venus. Honestly, you’d think, from the paroxysms over Evangelii Gaudiam, that the thing was a treatise on economics and not a deep discussion of the Church’s evangelical mission.

What that reveals is nothing about Francis’s supposed “heterodoxy” and plenty about the real treasure of the people panicking about the exhortation. Instead of dwelling on a couple of paragraphs in which Francis basically says that the gospel exists to proclaim good news to the poor in particular and we need to order our lives accordingly, it is wiser to approach the document in the spirit of Fr. Robert Barron:

  • http://catholicorthodoxy.blogspot.co.uk/ Jackie Parkes

    Fabulous!

  • Dave G.

    “anointing oneself the defender of the Church”

    Always a dangerous exercise. But really. This seems to be true in some cases. But no less true is the fact that if some traditionalists only hear one thing when the Pope talks, it appears another segment only hears the reactions of traditionalists when the Pope talks. When Francis released his exhortation, I noticed the immediate reaction in some quarters wasn’t ‘wow, let’s see what he has to say to me’, much of it was ‘wow, he mentioned money here, and here, and there, let’s see how those other Catholics throw a fit.’

    • Stu

      Yup. And especially from a group of people who like to remind everyone else how they “get” Francis unlike those other people.

    • The Deuce

      I’ve also noticed a lot of people who’s takeaway message seems to be, “Socialist economics is official church teaching now, and if you don’t agree you’re a heretic!” And since that’s more or less what the media is trying to portray him as saying, you have to do some digging to get past it.

  • AnsonEddy

    I really don’t get this crusade that you’ve been on. I know at the beginning you said it was because this is poison and people will listen to it and turn against the pope. But I saw a poll a couple of weeks ago that indicated that something like 88% of American Catholics approve of Pope Francis. So why are you expending so much energy dealing with a marginalized group of people who clearly have little in the way of influence to sway the opinion of their fellow Catholics? Why make this your hill to die on?

    • Stu

      What if you threw a war and nobody came.

    • Cypressclimber

      Comment bait?

    • HornOrSilk

      One, even if the majority of American Catholics like Pope Francis, the people who criticize the Pope would ask, “Are they church goers like me, or just the typical average uncatechized Catholic the media always turns to?” In other words, they would question the relevance of said “majority.” And they have a rather loud voice on the internet; when the average Catholic wants to explore the faith on the net, they run into this vocal minority. It’s easy for the average Catholic to get confused, and think, due to the group pressure of this vocal minority, that the Pope must be wrong. What is needed is work like Mark to show the Pope is not the one rejecting tradition and Catholic teaching, so that this vocal minority does not end up being the only ones heard, corrupting future generations of Catholics.

      • AnsonEddy

        Honestly I don’t even know what you’re saying here. If this minority has such an outsized influence why does only 12% of their cohort group agree with them? If people don’t agree with you, then you don’t have influence. In fact, that’s pretty much what “influence” means. So how is Mark spending his time yelling at a group of highly influential Catholics who just happen to not have any influence, better for this group of impressionable internet seekers than Mark spending his time laying out the faith for them?

        • Stu

          Especially with posts which take a quote from Ratzinger and then PRETEND what others might say if they thought Francis had said it . But it hasn’t really happened in that instant.

          It’s a lot of wasted straw.

          But the real question is, do you personally “get” Francis?

        • Heather

          Prominence of a viewpoint doesn’t necessarily correlate directly to percentage of poll respondents. After all, there aren’t all that many billionaires in the world but I don’t think you can say their interests lack influence.
          The guy with a minority view and a megaphone (or, more relevant to this situation, a website) might not actually be saying what the majority of his fellows agree with, but his viewpoint is the one that the folks outside the group are going to notice.

          • AnsonEddy

            Well by all means let’s none of us go to bed until there is no one left on the internet who is wrong. But who are these folkks outside the group that we’re worried are going to get the wrong idea? And why are we concerned about that?

            • Stu

              If you aren’t with us, you are against us!

    • Andy

      I am not so sure they are marginalized as you suggest. A group that is marginalized is usually forced to the margins by others. In this case this set of folks have not been pushed to the margins, they have chosen to move there themselves. But that may be a semantic argument. The real issue is the outsized noise they make. The internet has allowed anyone with time and energy the opportunity to impact the world – for better or worse. I think that is what Mark is referring to.
      As far as polling goes – so much depends on the way the question is asked. What does approval mean? Benedict had 70% approval ratings, until the sex scandal began to weigh on him.
      However, I think the real issue is that one group or another is playing as the only Catholics. In this instance is those who disagree with Francis. That creates major problems on a local level and can lead to many folks leaving the church/parish. This sort of separatist behavior hurts only the body of Christ. We are all part of that body, and I can no more remove part of my own body and remain whole, then the church can see people rejecting teaching of the church and remain whole.
      Francis has said nothing that is not part of what the church has and still is teaching. To use the phrase “prudential judgment” to disagree with him is as distasteful as the “its my conscience”. That is not to say that we cannot wrestle with what the church teaches – we should and we do. That is what our intelligence gives us the right to do – but that wrestling needs to be respectful and prayerful – not based on a sense of superiority.

      • AnsonEddy

        I get that your intuition tells you that these people may not be as marginalized as the polling suggests, and maybe you have great intuition. Or maybe Steve Skojec does. I don’t know. But we generally utilize the hard data we have to check our intuition. Not our intuition to check our hard data. You’re going to have to spot me this one on which “which one group or another” has caused people to leave the church. Do you have a link?

        • Andy

          I am not blaming one group or another – I was attempting to say a pox on both houses. Rereading what I wrote made me realize that may not be clear. I think those who disagree with Benedict caused many people to leave and those who disagree with Francis can turn away another set of folks. A couple of links about why people are leaving –
          http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/30/7-reasons-catholics-leave-church-in-trenton-1-is-sex-abuse-crisis/

          http://www.votf-li.org/Reese-The%20hidden%20exodus%205-11.pdf

          My intuition about what it means to be marginalized is based on the definition of the word – which deals with being forced to the margins. Marginalized groups can ave disproportionate voice if they have spokespeople of access to a platform. Being marginalized is not always a numbers game. I was not looking at polling data about who is at the margins, I was comparing Benedict’s poll numbers to those of Francis. To new honest I do not know who Steve Skojec is so I cannot nor will not make any comment on his work.

      • J. Polanco

        Are you seriously pretending antichrists such as Pius XII, Stephen VII, Alexander VI, John XII, Benedict IX, Julius III, Paul III, etc., etc., were God’s appointed representatives?

        • Andy

          To be honest – what the hell are you talking about?

          • J. Polanco

            Perhaps I was mistaken. Did you allege earlier that the RCC was the body of Christ?

            • Andy

              Yes – unless every nun I was taught by, the Pope and the catechism are wrong the problem is?

              • J. Polanco

                Hence my query. Are you seriously pretending antichrists such as Pius XII, Stephen VII, Alexander VI, John XII, Benedict IX, Julius III, Paul III, etc., etc., were God’s appointed representatives?

                Remember, it was Roman Catholics who:

                - committed some of the most unspeakable atrocities in human history such as The Holocaust.

                - massacred hundreds of thousands of innocent, non-combatant children, women and men in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

                - in Rwanda, raged with blood-lust and slaughtered one another in one of the bloodiest, most gruesome civil-wars in modern history.

                - on both sides – Axis and Allied – slaughtered each other during World War I and World War II with their respective bishops and priests blessing them on both sides of the blood bath.

                Even today, look at what so-called ‘Christians’ in Bulgaria do -http://bit.ly/r79nVa

                Demonstrably, then, the RCC “publicly declare[s] they know God, but they disown him by their works, because they are detestable and disobedient and not approved for good work of any sort.” – Titus 1:16 (Bracket mine.)

                • Andy

                  The people who committed the above listed atrocities were people – Catholic or not. Just like you and me they were sinners. Your list does nothing more than point out the evil found in the world, it does not speak to the Body of Christ. I wish you well in your fevered world of anger.

                  • J. Polanco

                    They were also Antichrists. Why would you, or anyone else for that matter, willingly be a member of as well as financially support the terrorist organization that is the RCC?

                    • Eli

                      Now I know I can’t take you seriously. You argue pointlessly here against the doctrine of hell and you now make the RCC out to be a terrorist organization. Wrong on both counts and probably a bit nutty I don’t even know why I bother writing this to be honest. Mark if you read this please just ban both of us because I’m feeding a troll!

    • Illinidiva

      The squeaky wheel gets the grease and these guys are loud and insistent about how they are always being marginalized and opressed. I think that they don’t like the fact that Pope Francis doesn’t have the same siege mentality as they do and isn’t giving them gold stars and commiserating with them.

      • AnsonEddy

        So the yelling is designed to get them to stop squeaking so they won’t get an outsized portion of the grease? Or the yelling is designed to drown them out so they don’t get an outsized portion of the grease?

        • Stu

          We have to yell and berate until they “get” Francis!

          • AnsonEddy

            Is the sin of “not getting Francis” one of commission or omission?

            • Stu

              I’m not sure. But I would submit those who “get” Francis might not actually “get” Francis.

              • AnsonEddy

                See, that’s just what a person who doesn’t “get” Francis would say.

                • Stu

                  But they do “get” Francis. They repeatedly affirm as much and point out others who don’t “get” Francis.

                  I wonder what his approach would be to those Catholics who are challenged by his words. Would he counsel them or go to war with them? Does Francis even “get” Francis?

                  • Illinidiva

                    No they actually don’t “get” Francis because they have completely different mindsets about the Church. Conservative Catholics in the developed world see the Church as under siege and are hunkered down in their bunker. They have a dystopian view of the Church in America. Apparently, there are only liberal priests and clown Masses in the U.S., and Obama’s stormtroopers will soon be rounding up faithful Catholics and putting them into reeducation camps. That fortress mentality is different from Francis’ bruised and bloody missionary Church in the streets.

                    • Stu

                      But clearly, you “get” Francis.

                      Just ask you.

                    • Illinidiva

                      I wouldn’t presume to be able to read the Pope’s mind. However, I do know that he isn’t interested in preserving Fortress Catholic and looking for imaginary persecutions and enemies.

                    • Stu

                      But you clearly read everyone else’s mind. Why is his off limits?

                    • Illinidiva

                      No. I can read what they write however.

                    • Stu

                      Oh, you go far beyond just reading their words.

        • Illinidiva

          The reason why Mark and others spend so much time discussing this group because they spend so much time whining about Pope Francis. I’m sure that Mark is tired of getting emails about how Francis’ use of less sparkly liturgical vestments will be the downfall of the Catholic Church.

          • Stu

            One does not have to respond to every email.

            The “delete” button is more powerful than the “send” button.

            • Illinidiva

              Perhaps, Mark is tired of them clogging up his inbox.

              • Stu

                And responding to them in such situations makes them go away?

          • AnsonEddy

            That’s why Jesus threw that caveat in about anyone who says to his brother, you fool (unless of course his brother is really whiny and annoying) will be in danger of the fires of hell.

            • J. Polanco

              Except that the Hellfire doctrine is a perverse mendacity that defames God. As a God of justice and love he would never prescribe infinite punishment for a finite crime no matter how wicked:http://bit.ly/17fVMYm

              • AnsonEddy

                I know we joke about being more Catholic than the Pope, but more Catholic than Jesus?! What just happened?

                • J. Polanco

                  Except that Christ wasn’t Catholic. He was Jewish.

              • Eli

                I was always under the impression that God doesn’t send us to Hell. We send ourselves. Don’t try to change doctrine that has been taught from the beginning please.

                • J. Polanco

                  I’ll be more explicit then. The Hellfire Doctrine opposes Christ’s teachings, thus, it is Antichrist.

                  • chezami

                    Um, no. It doesn’t. The only one who ever talks about hell in the gospels is Jesus himself.

                    • J. Polanco

                      I agree. Jesus did speak of Hell. Also noteworthy:

                      Acts 2:31
                      King James Bible
                      He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell.

                      American King James Version
                      He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell.

                      Bible in Basic English
                      He, having knowledge of the future, was talking of the coming again of Christ from the dead, that he was not kept in hell.

                      Douay-Rheims Bible
                      Foreseeing this, he spoke of the resurrection of Christ. For neither was he left in hell.

                      Webster’s Bible Translation
                      He seeing this before, spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell.

                      Concerning Jesus, Acts 2:27 informs us –
                      King James Bible
                      Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell.

                      American King James Version
                      Because you will not leave my soul in hell.

                      Bible in Basic English
                      For you will not let my soul be in hell.

                      Douay-Rheims Bible
                      Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell.

                      Webster’s Bible Translation
                      Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell.

                      So here’s a question for you. If Hell truly was created to incinerate and torture the devil, his angels and their human cohorts for all eternity, why was Jesus in hell when he died?

            • Illinidiva

              The traditionalist Catholic set certainly enjoys judging their fellow Catholics and finding them wanting. I’ve never seen so much obsession over the sex lives of other adults.

              • AnsonEddy

                Well, yes, some Catholics spend a lot of energy engaged in the topic of sexual ethics, but a lot of that has to do with their being in a Church that has carefully weighed the topics regarding human sexuality and formulated a moral code about them. And I wasn’t too enamored of some of the elements of Catholic teaching on human sexuality when I converted. I hated that my wife and I couldn’t use birth control. I thought Church teaching on masturbation and lust were almost comically anachronistic. But I reluctantly bound myself to this moral code and gradually I gained a new perspective on why the Church expends so much energy on the topic. And it also tracks why the Church has always been reluctant about economic mores. Sex involves people and as such, sex can result in the exploitation of people. Economies involve people and economies can result in the exploitation of people. In both cases we have evolved an ethical approach that says that whatever all parties agree to is morally licit. Sometimes an insecure young adult will consent to allow their body to be used by another person in exchange for briefly feeling wanted or for the prestige or power that it might earn. And sometimes a poor person will consent to work at a job for wages that will not be enough to feed their family or pay for their medical care, because hey, something is better than nothing, right? The church does not want people turned into objects, whether that be as objects of another persons lust for sexual gratification or lust for money and power.

                • Illinidiva

                  Yes.. Sex can involve exploitation and if it does, it should be condemned. However, it seems like certain traditionalists enjoy speculating about others’ sex lives. My favorite was the freak out about the civilly married couple whose baby Francis baptized last Sunday. They just forgot to get the appropriate dispensation from the diocese. This isn’t scandalous or hurting anyone. Perhaps in these sorts of situations, there is no need to comment on others’ lives.

      • Stu

        Then don’t give the squeaky wheel any grease.

  • wlinden

    He is not “gettng an interested hearing” from people who “hear” the fabrications the meeja TELL them he said.

  • Illinidiva

    I think that they are welcome to their opinions; however, they have to realize that they are as cafeteria as the folks who write for the National Catholic Reporter. I never want to “hear” about how pure they are and how faithful they follow Church teachings again.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    Well said. Both Left and Right have their own sacred cows that they guard with narrow-minded zealotry. Even if a particular issue is true, you can’t make 1 truth your whole view of the Faith. That’s the first step down the road to heresy.

    • Stu

      You hit upon what should be approach. We all have this problem. Instead, we should read his words and apply them to ourselves in an open mind. It’s a time for introspection no focusing on those who are having difficulty and remarking about how they hypocrites (not saying that you are doing this).

      Sometimes I think those among us who “get” Francis, if present during Christ’s discourse in John 6, instead of helping our brethren who remarked, “This saying is hard, and who can hear it?” would have simply been happy to see them go.

      If the Pope is calling for us to engage those on the left who pick and choose what they are going to believe then we likewise have to do that with those on the right who do the same and berating them with sarcasm isn’t going to help with either side.

  • ck

    I think my problem is not so much with Francis himself – actually I find his style refreshing – but rather with the “Spirit of Pope Francis” that has percolated in American Catholicism. It’s kinda like the Spirit of Vatican II wherein common Catholics who have little to no catechetical formation are led to believe all sorts of nonsense from deceivers.

    Case in point, last night I was at my son’s cub scout meeting where another dad and I discussed the upcoming First Reconciliation for the Second Graders. He said there was a meeting that I missed where a Franciscan priest was explaining to parents how Confession works. This dad said he was heartened to hear how things are now changing for Confession, especially with Pope Francis. You see, according to this dad, now under Pope Francis they’re doing away with the old ways of Confession and now you can sit face-to-face with a priest, and now you don’t have to explicitly recount your sins. It’s just a conversation. And this is different from the way things have been going with the last two Popes. I don’t know if this is what the priest actually conveyed to the parents, but this is what the dad took from the meeting, which is not an uncommon perception that the uncatechized are receiving.

    I don’t know where this dad has been for the last 40 or so years, but it hasn’t been Confession, where in this day and age there is almost always an option to sit face to face or use a screen. In any case, you can see how this Spirit of Francis is becoming a problem in that it has led to a ridiculous left-right dichotomy and view for many uninformed American Catholics that somehow Francis is pitted against Benedict XVI and John Paul II. And this is a very real problem that needs to be addressed in a big way. I think the good work of Fr. Barron has helped, but more needs to be done, and if possible something needs to be done by Pope Francis himself to correct this.

    • Illinidiva

      First, Francis’ vision of Confession is different from what I’ve heard and experienced growing up in the 1990s. I had the ability to sit face to face with the priest in a room, but there was actually scolding involved and the priests acted quite gruffily. The nuns would threaten “naughty children” with additional Confessions, so most of us saw it as punishment. I got yelled at by a priest in college for not going to Confession in years. (I walked out on his diatribe.) It was always presented as a “torture chamber.” Francis is the first priest I’ve heard who has ever discussed Reconciliation in a positive manner. If Francis’ example is leading priests to evaluate how they approach the Confessional and how they teach children about the Sacrament, then this is a good thing.
      Second, I think that Francis does have different focus and perspectives than JPII or Benedict. This is due to completely different backgrounds. Francis is a pastor who spent his career ministering to people in the street. JPII and Benedict were theologians. JPII and Benedict also came from places where the Church was actually under siege (Nazi Germany and Communist Poland).

      • Mark S. (not for Shea)

        Wow. Those are horrible experiences. My sympathies. They are certainly completely opposite to my own.
        .
        My worst experiences during confession are simply with busy priests. I’ve never had a priest be rude or cranky toward me, but I have had such a long line at confession that the priest had to say, “I’m sorry. I have to go prepare for Mass. I can’t hear your confession right now. Please come back after Mass.”
        .
        My few outright supernatural experiences since becoming Catholic have all been in the confession booth — and usually form the last priest I would expect it. It just further proves to me that the real Confessor in that chamber is God Himself. The priest is just keeping His seat warm.

        • Illinidiva

          Yep, different people have different experiences with the Church. That was what I was suggesting. This doesn’t mean that the dad in the original anecdote is attributing all positive changes in the Church to Francis. Francis talks alot more about Confession than his predecessors and he talks about it positively. Perhaps the dad just had bad experiences with the Sacrament like I did and probably doesn’t go and is heartened by the way it was explained to him at the meeting. Perhaps, the priest used quotes from Pope Francis himself to explain the Sacrament to the parents and kids.

  • http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/ Erin Manning

    Mark, I think that some of this “more Catholic than the pope” stuff is coming from several decades of “more Catholic than the bishops.” As someone who pretty much grew up in that culture, I can tell you that it gets to be pretty knee-jerk to reject anything the bishops say or do especially as a body (e.g., via the USCCB) unless the issues are issues of basic Catholic morality. Thus, if and when the USCCB would issue pro-life statements, those would get our grudging respect (along with a lot of complaints that such statements were fluff, that the bishops weren’t really taking action against abortion, and that some of them were probably privately pro-abortion, which we could legitimately judge because we were so brilliantly Catholic that it was self-evident that this was mere prudence, not rash judgment). But when the bishops would write against nuclear proliferation, or in support of health care or expanded immigration, etc., we would believe that it was our duty not only to ignore their ideas, but to contradict them as being against “real” Catholic teaching at every opportunity.

    You see, when the bishops write things about how the poor need health care, or immigrants should be welcomed with greater generosity both in law and in life, or that the federal minimum wage should be raised to combat the growing numbers of people who are both employed full-time *and* make so little they qualify for welfare, those are “prudential matters,” which is code word for “left-wing issues that only kooks care about, and which Real Faithful Catholics can ignore and/or sneer at as the closet-Marxism they are.” Now, to be fair, these *are* prudential issues. It is not sinful to believe that reform of immigration laws has to include going back to the idea that immigrants should enter this country legally, for instance. But it IS sinful to cultivate the attitude that the “expletive deleted immigrants” are responsible for all the crime, violence, and poverty that Americans Won’t Do, a poisonous position one hears with depressing regularity even from our Christian brothers and sisters. And it IS sinful to think that people who can’t afford to go to the doctor should just die and decrease the surplus population, or that it’s fine for huge multinational corporations who count their profits in the billions to pay a single mother the generous sum of $15,000 a year to work full-time with hours scheduled around the clock when it suits the company.

    In other words, that these are prudential issues means that we Catholics can disagree in good conscience about the specific *way* in which to address the issues or work toward solving the problems. But we don’t get to decide, in one of the wealthiest countries on the planet, that poverty isn’t our problem, and that the real problem is the poor who outrageously demand to see doctors or the poor who outrageously want to flee drug-violence in their destitute villages in Mexico and who come here seeking sanctuary. If we love them first, then we can, in good faith, argue about the best ways to help them–but no Christian is permitted the attitude that says, “Why should we help? It’s their own fault for being poor.”

    And THAT’S what Francis keeps saying, and what the bishops have been saying all along. If a Catholic person sincerely believes that raising the minimum wage, for instance, would be counter-productive in helping the poor he is certainly free to make that argument and to offer a different proposal. But what he’s *not* free to do is to say, “Well, that won’t work. And why should businesses be forced to pay better wages? Let the market decide,” as if it is the market that has been gifted with the charism of infallibility.

  • Casey Voce

    I can’t help but feel a certain level of schadenfreude. All these bloggers interpreting the interpreter; all the commenters telling us what the Pope REALLY said. It sounds almost…protestant. I’ve been told numerous times that Roman Catholics didn’t have this problem.

    • Dave G.

      If discussing issues and disagreeing on some topics is Protestant, then guilty as charged.

  • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

    My new response to any dissenters to the Pope, will be 2 Peter 3:14-18.

    And that especially includes anybody who tries to quote from Paul’s letters, or the encyclicals of Pius IX.


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