What would you do if you were introduced to Pope Francis? I might be like this lady.
Some days, the irony piles on top of irony.
Father Frank Pavonne put out a letter yesterday concerning the widespread misinterpretations of Pope Francis’ interview with America magazine.
Father Frank was with Pope Francis when the story broke.
In his words:
Is the pope saying we should talk less about abortion? Is he saying that the emphasis the Church has placed on this issue has been a mistaken emphasis?
When I first received these inquiries via emails and text messages, I was actually in the presence of Pope Francis, in the dining room of his residence. I had spoken just hours earlier, at the invitation of the Vatican, about the Church’s defense of the unborn child, and about the clear and strong position of the Church, expressed in many documents, that the right to life is our first right and the foundation and condition for all the others.
Read the rest here.
Do not be afraid little flock, for the Father has chosen gladly to give you the Kingdom. Jesus Christ
Have you ever had someone take everything you say and twist it to make it mean something else?
I once had a family member who did this, and she made my life a living hell. There. Was. No. Winning.
I’ve also had little armies of advocate ants crawling all over me for years. Most of these advocate ants were (back when I favored legal abortion) pro life, or, (now that I’m pro life myself) pro abortion. However, these two warring camps are not the sole suppliers of advocate ants.
I’ve been attacked a number of times by what I call “the Downtown Boy’s Club,” which is to say the star chamber for the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. I’ve also had quite a few zings from the Oklahoma Medical Association and other advocate ants who were trying to stop me from doing whatever I was doing and saying whatever I was saying by micro-searching my every comment for something they could use to harm me.
I didn’t worry overmuch about their micro searches because I knew one simple fact: If they didn’t find what they wanted in my actual verbiage, they’d make it up anyway.
I learned long ago that, over time, what they say you said stops being the story under the weight of what you actually do. If you are consistent and if you walk the walk, these things have a way of dying on their lethal little vines.
Of course, that’s tough for a politician who always faces another election not so far off. They may not have the time for the truth to win out. I was able to do it because I have the ability and the willingness to go directly to the people I represent and talk to them about these things; that and the fact that I was doing the things that made folks like the Downtown Boy’s Club mad at me for the people of my district and those good people knew it and were grateful for it.
I suppose it would be a lot tougher for a politician who was getting roughed up for something that went against the interests of the people he or she represented. That could indeed be political death.
How does this apply to the Pope? Just this: They’re doing the same thing to him.
Pope Francis is not saying anything new. What we’re witnessing is media blackmail of a sort.
They’ve done it to a lot of people in the past, and it has worked. The press constructs an alternate view of reality and then praises the hapless clown they are manipulating for conforming to their storyline. This is a Faustian bargain, akin to what Satan did when he offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if He would bow down to him.
Accept our scenario the press offers, and we will lionize you and praise you and make you the idol of millions of stupid people. It is incredible how many people fall for this and go along with these narratives that are imposed on them and begin to live out the lie. Politicians, celebrities, and especially young music stars, reshape themselves along the lines of the myth about themselves that the media created to get ratings and sell copies.
The press has been doing this with the popes for a while now. Pope Benedict XVI was cast as a dour, uncaring and cold type, all about the rule of the “thou shalt nots” and not at all about the love of Christ. That was, of course, a lie. The Pope they miscast this way wrote encyclicals titled “God is love.” He spoke out for the environment and peace. He said everything that Pope Francis has said.
The difference is the spin.
Already the press is beginning to become disgruntled that yet another pope refuses to fall for their bribe of press-generated public admiration and re-write the Gospels to suit the amoral morality they are pushing on the world.
Elizabeth Scalia and Mark Shea wrote about the Associated Press reporter who accused Pope Francis of being “inconsistent” because he told a group of doctors who were gathered at the Vatican that they must not perform abortions. Major news outlets have solemnly reported that Pope Francis has not spoken out against abortion, which is a dead flat lie.
It must be maddening for them to deal with someone who will not perform according to their script. After all, they’ve got the whole Western world, or at least the part of it they write about, jumping around and re-writing itself to conform to their bizarro view of things.
These people are hermetically sealed in their own prejudices. They do not go out and find stories and report the news. They wait for the “news” to come to them, and then they spin it according to their pre-written scripts.
They are not journalists.
They are also not believable.
Public Catholic reader FW Ken kindly put together a list of other bloggers who have taken the trouble to compare Pope Francis’ statements with Pope Benedict’s. I also added a few links to similar deliberate misinterpretations of papal statements from the past. Look them over. What you will find is that the papacy is consistently Catholic from pope to pope. More to the point, you will find that this pope is being given the “treatment” by the press. You can find these things here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
My advice is to stay calm brothers and sisters. Trust God, follow the Pope and be faithful to Christ in your own lives. Stay the course, and don’t worry. In the long run, (and God is always about the long run) the truth inevitably wins out.
The most interesting thing about Pope Francis’ interview with America magazine is not the interview itself (although that is fascinating reading); it’s the fact that everyone in the press is talking/writing about it.
If you ever believed any of those claims that the Church is irrelevant, I offer you the CBS/NBC/ABC/NEWYORKTIMES/HUFFINGTONPOST/ETC/ETC/ETC reaction to every little word that comes out of Pope Francis’ mouth.
Make no mistake about it folks, the Catholic Church matters. Why?
Because, whether they will admit it or not, even those
who deny its power,
who try to re-write history to obliterate its influence,
who talk about how it is “dying” (in the face of all objective evidence to the contrary)
who flat-out hate the Church
– even those people –
know that the Catholic Church is the one great unified moral voice in the world today.
The Catholic Church is not dying. It is growing. The Catholic Church is not irrelevant.
In fact, it is so relevant that even its most dedicated opponents talk about it all the time.
Who else on this planet can give an interview and have it quoted and misquoted to “prove” this or that point in every major news venue? Who else’s interview would rise to the level that major news outlets will pull quotes out of context to “prove” that their position is supported, as if that proof constituted an essential moral underpinning for their viewpoint?
Who else, but the Pope?
The answer is no one.
There’s a reason newscasters wrote as if the Holy Father gave an interview about abortion and homosexuality, when he only mentioned these things in a few sentences. They — not the Pope — are obsessed with these things. They want his blessing for what they do. They want — they crave — the absolution of the Holy Father for their sins.
More to the point, they want a moral fiat telling them that their sins are not sins.
The problem with that is that no matter how much they take things out of context to try to make it seem so, that won’t happen. Pope Francis, when he was speaking in this interview about confessors, said that there are two ways a confessor can be wrong.
One is to be so harsh that the only thing the penitent gets from the confessor is a cold encounter with the commandments. I suppose that this would be similar to what St Paul was talking about when he referenced, “the law.” The other is to be so namby-pamby that the confessor tells the penitent that their sins are not sins. I think this latter way is what the many people who are making rash mis-interpretations of what the Pope said are after.
But the important thing for us to understand is that the Holy Father said quite clearly that both these approaches are wrong. The confessor, and through him the Church, is to show the mercy of Christ without lying to people and telling them that their sins are not sins.
We have a Pope who wants to remind people that the love of Christ is greater than their sins. He is a pastoral pope who has walked with the people enough to know how miserable and lost they are.
I don’t recall if I’ve written about it here, but I’ve often seen that much of the anger that people direct at the Church is not so much anger at God as it is their rage at feeling rejected by God. There are a lot of people who feel unloved by God, who think that God hates them.
How did they get this idea? They got it from Christians who told them that God hates them.
We tend to focus today on homosexuals in this regard. But I think that is a huge mistake. I represent thousands of people who love God but feel separated from the institutional Church because they don’t see a place for themselves inside it. I deal every day with people who are hungry for God, but feel alienated from Him because they are ignored by Christians.
I am not talking here about the politically active drivers of public opinion in various movements. I don’t mean the gay rights activists or the pro abortion people. I mean ordinary people who are impoverished and living on the margins of society and barely hanging on with their fingernails to life itself. These, and not homosexual activists and abortionists, are the forgotten ones.
I believe these are the people Pope Francis is wanting to reach.
In this interview, Pope Francis compared the Church to a hospital. In some ways, what he was describing sounded like an emergency room. When someone is drowning in their sins, when they are in despair and misery, it is a cruelty to hit them with a laundry list of their various wrong-doings and then top that off with condemnation.
I know. I was once Ms Pro Abortion for Oklahoma. I was denounced and attacked and reviled by Christians.
None of this — none of it — moved me to change. Not one name I was called, not one lie that was told about me, not one ugly thing that was done to me in the name of Christ by misguided Christians made me want to change my ways. In fact, it hardened me in them.
It took a direct, personal, encounter with God Himself to get through to me. And then I was so overwhelmed by the love He poured down on me that even today I have no words for it. The interesting thing is that God did not address abortion with me until almost a year and a half after I had turned to Him. He showed me my sins, but at first, it was the little stuff. Even when the Holy Spirit finally began to teach me about my sins with abortion, it was gentle.
This was not because God favored abortion. It was because He loved me.
Protestants sing an old hymn called “Just as I am.” The title says the message of that hymn.
I think that this is the message that Pope Francis is trying to give to lost and hurting people all over the world: God loves you, just as you are. You don’t have to get righteous to come to God. All you have to do is trust Him and let Him love you from death into life.
If that message is not true, then I am not a Christian. Because it is how God dealt with me. The person I am today is the grace and the miracle of that divine love.
Read the interview for yourself here.
Pope Francis gave an extensive interview to America Magazine, which you can find here.
The New York Times did an extensive re-write of this interview, which you can find here.
Just for the record, the Holy Father did not say what the New York Times is claiming. The Times took quotes out of context, and re-interpreted them along the lines of the secular gospel. What the Pope said is simple, clear and obvious Christian teaching that the Church has proclaimed for 2,000 years.
Here’s what the Holy Father said, and what, in Sunday School parlance, it means.
What the Pope said:
“We need to proclaim the Gospel on every street corner,” the pope says, “preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing, even with our preaching, every kind of disease and wound. In Buenos Aires I used to receive letters from homosexual persons who are ‘socially wounded’ because they tell me that they feel like the church has always condemned them. But the church does not want to do this. During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a 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.
What it means in Sunday School:
Love the sinner. Hate the sin.
What the Pope said:
“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.
What it means in Sunday School:
God’s mercy is greater than any sin you can commit and it is available in confession. Abortion and birth control are not the only sins. God has mercy for post abortive men and women. I am a shepherd of souls, including those who commit sins other than abortion and contraception.
What the Pope said:
“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.
What it means in Sunday School:
We can not earn salvation by picking out one or two sins and condemning them. That only makes us bitter and self-righteous. We must focus first on loving Jesus. Then, Jesus will change us and we will want to follow Him with our lives. The Church must preach Christ.
There is a lot more to this interview. It is long and, as always with Pope Francis, completely candid. I suggest you go to the link I gave you and read it for yourself.
Mention of the devil offends people.
They don’t like to hear about him, any more than they want to hear about hell. The devil and hell are not a real entity and a real place we are told. They are the boogeyman and the boogeyplace that we Christians use to scare people into conversion.
Many Christians also dismiss the devil and hell. Back when I was a protestant, I was often corrected by my various pastors about my belief in both a literal hell and a literal devil. “Hell is separation from Christ,” I was told. “It is, simply the grave with no resurrection.”
“The devil is not an actual personality,” I heard another time. “There is no such thing.”
But the truth is, Jesus spoke often and graphically about both hell and the devil. There is no indication in any of His words that hell is a state of mind or that the devil was a figment of religious imagination. On the contrary, Jesus gave us our most clear portrait of both these realities.
Pope Francis, far from being politically correct, goes against this modern tide and speaks often of the devil and his works in our lives.
Maybe because, as a pastor of souls, he has met the devil many times. I’ve said before that it is a scalding, life-changing thing to look into another person’s eyes and see the devil looking back at you. Perhaps Pope Francis has had this experience. If he has, it would explain a lot.
Here is my (totally pew-sitting laity) opinion of how bishops should deal with their differences of opinion with the Pope.
In his homily at morning mass, Pope Francis described the Church this way: The Church is a widow, seeking her bridegroom. He went on to say some beautiful things about our mother and how we should seek her,
The press has jumped all over another errant remark from the Vatican, this time about married priests.
I’m not going to hold my breath until the Vatican decides to do away with the celibate priesthood. The reason is that I like breathing. However, I am game to, just for fun, look at as a proposition. Let’s consider for a moment how doing away with the requirement for celibacy for our priests would affect our Church.
So far as I know, not even the perpetually-hyping press has gone so far as to suggest that the pope is considering doing away with chastity for priests. Chastity means, in its most base interpretation, no sex outside of marriage. I am giving you the bottom drawer meaning of this word for the purposes of this discussion, but it has many layers beyond that.
Just for now, we will limit the concerns about chastity to the no-sex-outside-marriage consideration. Since no one wants priests who are not chaste, we have to assume that even if the Church decided to waive the requirement for singlehood for its priests, it would still hold that they must either be celibate or married.
If the Church suddenly started admitting married men to the seminaries in large numbers, the face of the priesthood would change along with them. Changes in the institutional Church and the way it does business would have to follow.
First, allowing married men would almost certainly increase the overall percentage of heterosexual men in the priesthood. It would do this for two reasons. One: I doubt that the priesthood would remain as attractive to homosexual men under these circumstances, for lots of reasons. Two: The priesthood would attract a number of heterosexual men who had previously given it a pass because they felt called to marriage.
Second, allowing married priests would mean that our priests would have wives and families, with all the concerns that go with them. I’ve heard talk about the finances involved in providing priests an income that would allow them to support their families. That is certainly one change that would have to happen. The Church would also have to address the lifetime sinecure of health insurance, retirement lodging and other things it provides for priests now.
Priests today sign their lives over to the Church. They even make their bishop the next of kin on their living wills. They go where they are sent and do what they are told. In exchange for this, they never have to worry about a roof over their heads, medical care, retirement or any of the other things that bother the rest of us.
They are “sons of the Church” in a literal, almost childlike, way.
But if these “sons of the Church” were married men with other people they were responsible for, the dynamic of all this would change drastically. Not only would decisions have to be made about how the Church would go about providing for their families, which if the priests followed Church teachings, would be large, but it would have to consider these families when making assignments to the priests.
It’s one thing to transfer a single man from hither to yon at a moment’s notice. It’s quite another to ask a wife to quit her job and the kids to leave their schools and move around like a flock of hummingbirds.
Another consideration is the resentment and anger of the families of these men. I’ve heard deacon’s wives complain about the fact that the Church does not recognize their existence. If the deacon was a priest, and the priest had a wife and seven kids with one on the way, how would the Church deal with the multiple angers and resentments of family members who felt that their existence was being denied?
Wives can be reasoned with (sometimes) but children are another matter. With kids, it’s ignore now and visit them in the drug rehab later.
Third, would be the major change in how Catholics themselves view their priests. Catholics dote on their priests. They shower them with gifts, respect, trust and compliments. In exchange, they expect to be catered to and coddled by their pastors in a way that no Protestant could even conceive of.
I know. I was a Protestant for a long time, and I can tell you no one expected the kind of one-to-one, personal attention that Catholics expect and receive from their priests. Catholics go running to their priests with their problems, expecting (and receiving) filial attention and comfort.
It’s an incredible relationship, and most of it is based on the simple fact that the priests are all-in for their ministry in a way that no married man could ever be. Catholics dote on their priests, and their priests dote back. All this mutual doting forms a kind of glue that holds this disparate Church together as an incredibly well-functioning social unit. We, all of us, priest and laity alike, stand before the Eucharist — which in a real way is the Church — in a relationship based on the fact that the priests have made the priesthood their life’s commitment.
All of this — all of it — would change if the Church moved away from the celibate priesthood.
I’m just touching on three areas I can see that would have to change if the Church waived the requirement for non-married celibacy for priests. In truth, the entire dynamic of the priesthood as it’s been practiced for a thousand years would change. This would require painful adjustments for the Church, the men who are priests now, for the families of future priests and for the parishioners.
Do we want to do it?
I don’t know.
It’s not my call.
But I’m not holding my breath.
The priest had mentioned his fatigue. I think that’s something everyone who bears a responsibility for other people can understand.
Here are the Holy Father’s comments.