Surprise! The Pope is Pro Life.

I’m sure he didn’t mean it this way. I’ve had quotes in newspapers come across differently than I intended many times.

But this does need clarifying.

Bishop Tobin of Rhode Island gave an interview to the Rhode Island Catholic in which he almost sounded as if he was questioning Pope Francis’ commitment to the sanctity of human life. His comment concerning the touching moment when the Holy Father reached out and embraced Dominic Gondreau, (photo above) who is from the Bishop’s own diocese, was:

Obviously it was a very blessed moment for Dominic himself and for the whole Gondreau family, and through them for our whole diocesan church. We were truly blessed that day that the Holy Father reached out and touched and embraced a member of our flock. It was a great moment and a great blessing. The other thing I want to say though, is that I’m a little bit disappointed in Pope Francis that he hasn’t, at least that I’m aware of, said much about unborn children, about abortion, and many people have noticed that. I think it would be very helpful if Pope Francis would address more directly the evil of abortion and to encourage those who are involved in the pro-life movement. It’s one thing for him to reach out and embrace and kiss little children and infants as he has on many occasions. It strikes me that it would also be wonderful if in a spiritual way he would reach out and embrace and kiss unborn children.

I assume that Bishop Tobin did not intend this comment to sound the way it does. That kind of thing happens once in a while to everyone who talks to the press. It has certainly happened to me. Unfortunately, when a bishop of the Church says something like this about the Holy Father, the statement has to power to undercut the authority of the Church, everywhere.

So … just for the record, here’s Pope Francis himself on the subject.

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  • pagansister

    Formerly from RI, nothing Tobin does or says surprises me. He doesn’t have the same responsibilities that Pope Frances has as leader of the Catholic Church and I suspect it is much more complex than Tobin’s responsibilities are. Also it is possible that the good Bishop hasn’t heard OR seen everything the Holy Father has said and done.

  • FW Ken

    Rebecca, I don’t agree that rebuking the pope (rebuke being too strong a word, granted) undermines the Church. Think of St. Catherine of Siena. Specifically, the pope is not Bp. Tobin’s “boss”, but his brother bishop.

    I’m not taking sides in the particular issue at hand, only noting that history suggests that popes too need a prod now and then.

    • hamiltonr

      I might agree if the criticism was well-founded.

    • hamiltonr
      • FW Ken

        Sorry, but it’s a bit precious for Michael Sean Winter to hold forth against criticizing a poor. What hypocrisy.

        I read a really good take on Bp. Tobin’s comments, I thought by Fr. Longenecker . I can’t find it now, but it was very positive. For the record, I’m not buying into any parsing of the pope’s comments, either what he says our what anyone thinks he should say. He’s the pope, I’m not. Ask I have a right to expect is that he not pronounce heresy.

        • hamiltonr

          I’m not familiar with Mr Winter. I just saw the article. Who is he?

          • FW Ken

            A mover at the National Catholic Reporter, a seriously dissident journal, highly critical of the last two popes.

  • Manny

    I have to say, I get very nervous now when Pope Francis speaks. It seems that he leaves himself open to interpretation way too often. I know he’s been great for the public face of Catholicism, but a little more discipline with his language would curb a few fears.

  • Conrad J. Noll

    I’ve heard Bp. Tobin interviewed a few times. This report is consistent with the impression he gave me each time. Not someone who should comment in public I think.

  • Gordis85

    Thank you so much Rebecca for the youtube videos of Papa Francis and his meeting the Italian pro-life marchers in St. Peter’s square. I remember watching that take place and smiling the whole time. I hope Catholics will take the time to see for themselves that Papa Francis has spoken out before about the importance of the pro-life message. I read on other blogs where many have accused him of being silent on the matter.

    Thanks again!

    • hamiltonr

      Thank YOU for supporting our pope!