Lost In Translation …

… Let’s discuss translations for a moment. Are they 100% accurate? Not always. Hence the phrase, “lost in translation”. Knowing that, I am willing to take into consideration that this is sometimes the case with Pope Francis; however, I refuse to accept it as an excuse. On that note I’d like to share this post, Francis: Interview 2, by Sr. Anne Flanagan.

There are things in that conversation that will raise questions; I’ve only scanned the interview and found two eyebrow-raisers. A bit of research into the Italian original showed me that both are translation issues. And serious ones, to my mind. (What? Did they use Google Translate?) So I am going to just hurry to post the differences between the English as published, and my own rather literal Italian.

And then she gives this example of the variations in translations and their implied meaning.

If “everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them,” is the Pope saying that there is no such thing as objective truth, or objective right or wrong? This is where it is really, really helpful to know Italian: “Ciascuno di noi ha una sua visione del Bene e anche del Male. Noi dobbiamo incitarlo a procedere verso quello che lui pensa sia il Bene” is more literally (and helpfully?) translated as “Each one of us has his/her own vision of the Good or even of Evil. We must encourage him/her to move toward that which he/she sees as the Good.”

The Pope is not leveling the difference between truth and untruth, right and wrong: he is saying that we all have a duty to encourage people to pursue the Good, knowing that the true Good will not fail to manifest himself, even if “through a glass darkly.”

I see the subtle nuances in the different translation, yes. But is it now our duty to read into what may or not be implied? Even with the help of Sr. Anne’s more literal translation I have to wonder at the ambiguous answer to such a straight forward question. And it is ambiguous, no? Or else it wouldn’t have so many people scrambling to interpret the Pope’s meaning.

Are we supposed to read Francis’s comments like protestants read their bibles now, through the lenses of their own personal interpretation? It’s exhausting. And confusing. And I don’t know that I buy the language barrier excuse anymore, not that I ever really did. The Pope is a smart man and capable of saying what he means and, it’s the fact that he doesn’t that’s so troubling.

And how many interviews has it been now? I think it’s safe to say we’ve crossed the point were we can continue to ignore the intentional vagueness of his remarks. I hate to say it but maybe Francis should stick to well thought out and carefully worded encyclicals and addresses, or at the very least, give off the cuff interviews to media outlets that can be trusted not to heavily edit the content to fit their specific narrative. Because let’s be honest, how many of you thought of calling BS while reading it — that’s how wonky the whole thing read. When people are making excuses for language or suspecting La Reppulica of taking liberties with the Holy Father’s words maybe it’s time to hang up the informal interview gig.

It’s ecumenical outreach time in Rome. Meanwhile, all this effort to chase after the lost sheep leaves the rest of the herd alone to wander off. Or at least that is what it feels like.

So there it is. My final word on the subject of this particular interview. Should more develop I’ll add more, redact all the wrongs, and mea all the culpas. In the meantime, below you’ll find some excellent articles written by others.

Related: Fr. Z — What Did The Pope Really Say and, Pope Francis interview in La Repubblica, or, “Is This Now My Fate?”

Simcha Fisher — Utterly Predictable News Flash : Pope Mistranslated

Tom McDonald — Parsing Francis, Shepherd of a Lost Sheep

Calah Alexander — Less Fear, More Faith

Will Duquette — Dissent Detectors

Elizabeth Scalia — Translating Francis

Terry Nelson — I was going to write a post today on how similar Pope Francis’ spirituality is to the Little Way of St. Therese… However, I doubt it makes any difference now

Fr. Longenecker — Yes, I Am Trying To Convert You and, My Interview With Pope Francis

About Katrina Fernandez

Mackerel Snapping Papist

  • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

    Let’s face it, in interviews or not, the Pope often speaks like this to non-Catholics or to non-believers..

    However, his homilies and addresses to Catholics, e.g. at WYD, seem like everything we expect from a pope.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      With the exception of one or two homilies, you do make a fair point.

      • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

        I don’t know. I was there on Copacabana beach doing simultaneous translation into English of what the Holy Father was saying and I was quite impressed at how he could speak at the same time deeply and practically. I read some of his other addresses and they were equally inspiring.

        Perhaps we, as his flock, should be talking more about his Angelus addresses and Wednesdays talks than about his off-the-cuff interviews.

        • Simon D

          It is not the faithful flock who are scandalized by his off-the-cuff interviews. We know what the Church teaches. It is, rather, the lukewarm Catholic and the devangelized world (to which, ironically, Francis seems to believe himself an apostle) that do not know what the Church teaches and are therefore misled.

          Whenever these Francis conversations come up, I feel as though I’m back in another conversation. There was a particularly-crass television show, “Two Broke Girls” (perhaps since cancelled, I have no idea) and I lamented its effect on the culture. “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it,” I was told, and I thought how completely my point had been missed; my critique was that it was bad for America that this show existed and was pushing the cultural envelope in yet more crass directions, and my watching it or not is immaterial to that problem. So it is with Francis. “If you don’t like him, don’t read him” is no answer; the problem isn’t that he makes me angry or that he misleads me, it is that he misleads OTHERS, and that will not change simply because I have tuned him out.

          • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

            How many Angelus and Wednesday addresses have you read? Or have you just written the Holy Father off from a couple of interviews badly translated?

          • Simon D

            I’ve tuned him out, frankly. “And now the news: Pope Francis says something stupid, sun rises in the east, dog bites man, film at eleven.” I’m done with him. To rationalize him, to bend his words into an orthodox shape, to imagine and defend an intention in his mind that is at complete variance with the words in his mouth, is, as Katrina indicates, too exhausting, too dispiriting, and, ultimately, futile. When he acts as Pope—in this context, primarily the papal magisterium—I am obliged to listen and, at the very least, give respectful consideration to what he says. I could not ignore Lumen fidei, for example, even if it had been opus Francisci rather than opus Benedicti. When, however, he acts as nothing more than the Bishop of Rome, as he seems to prefer, or as a private individual, I am no more obliged to suffer him than our dissenting brethren were obliged to read Benedict’s (better-judged, more circumspect, more interesting, and more intelligent) interviews with Seewald or his biography of Jesus. The advent of the Anglican Rite cannot come soon enough.

            Qua Pope, he commands my attention. But he demurs, only rarely invoking or acting in that capacity. We are, therefore, more often than not, dealing with him as a man and as an episcopus simplex. And as a man, I feel as much kinship with him as I do with—well, I don’t know, pick a pastor. Joel Osteen. (Well, frankly, Osteen is more interesting.) Anyway, his ways are not my ways. His thoughts are not my thoughts. His priorities, opinions, and assumptions are not… Well, you get the idea. When he puts on a mitre, he is still Superman, but take off that mitre and you might as well put glasses on him, muss his hair, and call him “Clark.”

          • ATDP

            Simon D, I couldn’t agree more.

  • mephis

    “Meanwhile, all this effort to
    chase after the lost sheep leaves the rest of the herd alone to wander
    off.” But here we have our problem: the good shepherd *does* leave the herd to chase after even a signle lost sheep. Jesus presents this as a good thing. So what’s going on here? Maybe it’s the herd that needs to change for the better, too.
    I’ve sometimes thought of the question: was it ever easier to be a christian than now? My first instinct is to say yes, but then… I don’t actually think so. Popes used to be a loooot worse, not to mention all the corrupted bishops appointed by crooked kings. And the two (three?) popes thing – makes this craziness look tame, really. :D But in one sense I do think it was easier: a single layman could easily go about his life, participating in the life of his local church and growing in faith every day, without finding himself in the torrents of online debates and freakouts over the pope doing this or that. Then again, I suppose I could just not read any of this, so it’s pointless to complain. :D Just thinking aloud…

    • Elizabeth517

      The idea of Francis seeking the one sheep and leaving the 99 has been invoked over and over, and we faithful who are feeling disturbed are told repeatedly not to be like the resentful elder son. But there’s something wrong with this analogy. I am not disturbed by the idea of millions of non-Catholics and lapsed Catholics being drawn to the Church. That would be a dream come true. I am disturbed by the idea of those millions of lost sheep reading a few headlines on the Internet and saying to themselves, “Yep, it’s as I’ve always thought. Thank goodness the Church is finally going to cave.” (I’ve seen this played out quite a few times already by my liberal friends on my Facebook feed.) This atheist interview has me white-knuckling it as if the Good Father sent a letter to his prodigal son in the great emptiness, saying, “Hope you’re well. I don’t want you to come home or anything. Just keep following your conception of the Good!” I am worried that he’s NOT going out to seek the lost sheep. They need and deserve the truth.

      Two years ago I was an Obama-voting, pro-choice Episcopalian. I wasn’t converted because I got the impression that the Church was eventually going to change to suit the views I already held. It was orthodoxy, not feel-good generalities, that converted me. I was inexorably drawn in by the truth until I had to change almost everything in my life. And it has made me so happy. I am very worried about the Pope’s strategy, not because I don’t think the lost sheep matter, but because I doubt he’s going to save them this way. Though I do have a lot of affection for him and believe he is a good and holy man. Sorry if this is all super obvious….I have been staying away from a lot of the online conversation. Thank you, Katrina, for your bracing humor. The Jimmy McMillan meme is probably the best commentary I’ve seen so far!

  • Rebecca Duncan

    Vatican II was deliberately vague, at least in some parts. Perhaps Pope Francis is just staying within the pastoral guidelines of the council? :/

  • http://connecticutcatholiccorner.blogspot.com/ CT Catholic Corner

    The problem with this (figuring out what Francis is saying every time he speaks) is the same problem Protestants have with self interpreting the Bible- everyone sees what they want or fear. So who has it right? How will any Catholic ever know what the Pope REALLY says if we need dozens of sources translating it for us and everyone seeing something different??
    This is terrible.
    Has this EVER happened with a pope before?

  • Christian LeBlanc

    Sometimes I have to search 4 Bibles to get a good translation for catechism class. No surprise that there’s the same trouble with stuff that came out last month. Traduttore, traditore,

  • Simon D

    You spoke for me (and for many, I suspect) in your first comment on Simcha’s post: “If he keeps getting mistranslated perhaps he should do the world a favor and stop with these off the cuff, casual interviews. One time, I understand. But please, learn from your mistakes and stick to addresses and audiences or at least be more prudent with who you do interviews with. He’s the pope, for goodness sake. I shouldn’t have to type this. Common sense. Common sense. Common sense.”

    • Simon D

      And two other comments there are similarly-trenchant. “Francis requires an office full of handlers to make his words sound sane. When will you stop making excuses and demand from Francis the clarity that his office demands? He appears to be living in a world that exist only in his mind.” Common sense. Common sense. Common sense. And this one cut close to the bone: “Yet another blogger on this site has to ‘explain’ what Pope Francis’ interview statements. Simcha is even more interesting because confesses ‘I kind of wish Pope Francis would stop giving all these interviews. Because look at the mess, every stinking time.’ Pope Francis is the Barack Obama of the Catholic Church!” Quite so, insofar as he makes vague comments onto which liberal catholics project their own beliefs (many faithful Catholics, meanwhile, desperately try to rationalize his statements to avoid the obvious conclusion that the pope is a berk). As you say, “how many interviews has it been now? I think it’s safe to say we’ve crossed the point were we can continue to ignore the intentional vagueness of his remarks.”

      • Illinidiva

        I actually do think that Francis is the media’s new shiny toy, but here is my take. Francis is a more fun shiny toy than Obama. Obama doesn’t like the media, is a petulant man child, and bullies everyone; however, the media has to keep praising him because he is the first black President. Yet, despite the obligation, apparently reporters don’t like him. Along comes Francis, who while from Latin America, is the Catholic pope and is of European background. It is easy enough to cast him as part of the elite (i.e. white) ruling class Latin American, especially given the Dirty War controversy. But in spite of themselves, they keep praising him because he is unpredictable and a good story.
        The difference is that Francis walks the walk in contrast with Obama. If Obama was so concerned about the poor, he’d be adopting a humble lifestyle like Francis. I don’t see him enrolling Sasha and Malia in D.C. public schools or forgoing his lavish vacations. I don’t see the First Lady forgoing her celebrity 50th b-day party and donating the money to charity. In contrast, Francis is living in a tiny apartment, being driven around in a Ford Focus, and refusing to take a vacation. He has brought what was always a monarchial position down to ground level in six months.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

          Obama hearts Francis. Not that I fault Francis for that. Obama wants to think he is like Francis and that’s
          why he likes him. http://www.usatoday.com/story/theoval/2013/10/02/obama-pope-francis-cnbc-abortion-gay-rights/2911067/

          • Illinidiva

            Yep saw that and thought it was pretty amusing.

        • Simon D

          Francis’ decision to eschew the apartment is constantly misrepresented as an example of his (fictitious) humility, but the simple fact is that Francis himself has disclaimed that interpretation; it reflects, he told America magazine in his infamous interview, nothing more than the fact that he prefers to live in community. It has nothing to do with humility.

          Francis’ capacity to bring the Catholic Church to the ground in a short period of time is precisely the concern. Remember, we have only the assurance that the ship will dock—not her condition or manifest on arrival.

          • Illinidiva

            First, why do you think that Francis isn’t humble? This doesn’t reflect on any other pope, but I think that his actions are humble. Secondly, the main reason why the Church was in such poor shape is precisely because the pope is treated as a monarch rather than a pastor, the Vatican acts like a Renaissance court, and priests see themselves as better than the “peons.” It seems that the clergy needs a reminder that they serve the people rather than the other way around.

          • W. Randolph Steele

            As I said earlier, he walks the walks and talks the talk. He is BELIEVABLE, in part because the language hew uses. Pope Francis speaks MORE like a pastor and less like a theologian.

          • Illinidiva

            Correct. I adore some of the imagery that Francis uses. He speaks in parables, images, and stories. I love the talk he gave yesterday to the severely disabled children about the wounds of Jesus.

          • Simon D

            On the first point: Because I know what “humble” means and I measure Francis’ actions against that adjective. Francis’ actions are anything but humble—to the contrary, they are presumptuous and willful. People are bamboozled because he has simple tastes, and they are used to thinking of “humble” and “simple” as synonyms. They are not. The iPhone, for example, is lavish in its simplicity. A humble pope does not impose his own preferences on the office, whether his preference be for simplicity or ostentation. A humble pope would not insist on his taste for off-the-cuff interviews, come hell or high water.

            On the second point: The main reason why the Church IS—not was—in such poor shape is the fifty year crisis engulfed us following Vatican II. The numbers are pretty clear: We were in great shape, and then we weren’t. The number who left, the number who left in all but body and should have left in that, too, the number who stayed in bewilderment and quiet misery—the harm is incalculable. Certainly, the Holy Spirit prevented the council from teaching error, but there can be no serious doubt that the Enemy caused the council to be called. Francis doesn’t see it—another strike against him. John Paul II, it can fairly be said, prevented the ship from going under entirely, but it was only with Benedict that we were finally, finally starting to make some headway. The corrected translation of the Mass and the promulgation of Anglicanorum coetibus were thrilling and hopeful prospects—small, tentative beginnings, yes, but gravid with hope for the future. And while Benedict failed to aggressively fix the remaining problems in the Mass, one had the sense that Rome had our backs while we did so—that Rome would back us up as we resisted stupid liturgical distortions and innovations. Benedict taught beautifully and gave beautiful liturgical examples; he teed up the shot. It was for his successor to crack the whip, But that optimism is now dead; our enemies are emboldened, Francis is visibly indifferent to the liturgy—if we do not fix the liturgy, we will fail to fix the Church—and any hope for real progress in the next decade is gone.

            The invocation of clericalism is unappealing. A mythical beast that, if it ever existed, was slain so long ago that it exists today only insofar as it serves rhetorical purpose. By far the greater threat today is laicism, a kind of aggressive congregationalism that supposes that the clergy do nothing special and that the laity can do everything and are in no way obliged to their bishops.

          • Illinidiva

            “A humble pope does not impose his own preferences on the office, whether his preference be for simplicity or ostentation.”

            I think that a humble person avoids changing and becoming something he is not because of the office. He tries to remain grounded and who he is. I admire the fact that he is just trying to be himself and isn’t overwhelmed by the office.

            “A humble pope would not insist on his taste for off-the-cuff interviews, come hell or high water.”

            Every other world leader and religious leader gives regular sit down interviews, so there is no reason why Pope Francis cannot. Despite giving such interviews, Pope Francis hasn’t incited any riots in the Muslim world unlike his predecessor.

            “On the second point: The main reason why the Church IS—not was—in such poor shape is the fifty year crisis engulfed us following Vatican II. The numbers are pretty clear: We were in great shape, and then we weren’t. ”

            This is a very simplistic error that anyone studying basic statistical analysis or research would know. Correlation doesn’t equal causation. There are other factors which better explain the decline in Chruch attendance. The world at large is different now than it was in the 1950s and most other churches, which were also full back then, have seen declines in attendance as well. The world is more individualistic and there is less of a stigma attached with not going to church. The social aspect associated with going to a specific church is no longer there. Do you really think that the 1950s Church where authorities banned books and movies, nuns used corporal punishment, and girls who found themselves pregnant would be locked up in convents would work in 21st century America? It strikes me as a very cold, unfeeling sort of religion that could have cared less about its members.

            ” Certainly, the Holy Spirit prevented the council from teaching error, but there can be no serious doubt that the Enemy caused the council to be called. Francis doesn’t see it—another strike against him. ”

            What exactly was bad about the Council? Ecumenism? Religious Tolerance? Greater Participation among the laity and women? An actual liturgy that respected cultural differences and encouraged participation? All these things sound great to me.

            “But that optimism is now dead; our enemies are emboldened, Francis is visibly indifferent to the liturgy—if we do not fix the liturgy, we will fail to fix the Church—and any hope for real progress in the next decade is gone.”

            There are larger problems in the Church than the translation of Latin to the vernacular and the proper amount of sparkle on the priests’ vestments. Such as perhaps the fact that the Church was covering up child abuse? Or perhaps the fact that money is being laundered through the IOR? Or the fact that the central Church government is so dysfunctional that the butler could steal confidential papers?

            Benedict was frankly fiddling while Rome burned. It is my understanding that he is personally a very nice man and his decision to resign was a good one. However, that doesn’t mean that he had the skills or personality needed to be pope. He really didn’t.

            And yeah.. Francis likes simpler vestments and has a more populist style. But those are really important aspects of his reform program. And his Masses are still Masses.

            “The invocation of clericalism is unappealing. A mythical beast that, if it ever existed, was slain so long ago that it exists today only insofar as it serves rhetorical purpose. By far the greater threat today is laicism, a kind of aggressive congregationalism that supposes that the clergy do nothing special and that the laity can do everything and are in no way obliged to their bishops.”

            Clericalism is a huge issue with the Church. There are priests who are more interested in advancing their career than serving as priests. A huge part of Francis’ reform agenda is changing the attitude of the clergy. They aren’t lords and princes; they are servants who should “smell like their sheep.” One of the pope’s formal titles is “Servant of the Servants of God,” which is the title that Francis is emphasizing.

            And yes, lay people should be able to question Church authorities. It is our donations that is keeping the Church in business.

          • Simon D

            “I think that a humble person avoids changing and becoming something he is not because of the office. He tries to remain grounded and who he is. I admire the fact that he is just trying to be himself and isn’t overwhelmed by the office.”

            That is the precie opposite of humility. A humble man recognizes that the papacy is bigger than him and that he is its servant and instrument, rather than it being his plaything—”Peter has spoken through Leo.” Benedict, for example, was not Ratzinger. Francis is, so far as I can tell, completely Bergoglio, and feels no obligation to be anything but.

            “Every other world leader and religious leader gives regular sit down interviews, so there is no reason why Pope Francis cannot.”

            There is every reason why he should not. Francis is Pope. Surely you see why that is completely different from President of Italy.

            “Despite giving such interviews, Pope Francis hasn’t incited any riots in the Muslim world unlike his predecessor.”

            I don’t think that a pope should spend too much time worrying about riots in the Muslim world. “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!” There are oodles of people in this world who are looking for a reason to feel aggreived; in this country they generally have “OBAMA 08″ bumper stickers; in other countries they generally prefer their charismatic naifs of a more totalitarian bent; but the instinct is the same.

            “This is a very simplistic error that anyone studying basic statistical analysis or research would know. Correlation doesn’t equal causation. There are other factors which better explain the decline in Chruch attendance.”

            Actually, there aren’t. Correlation doesn’t equal causation, but that is only a plausible defense when there is some better alternative explanation. The fact is this: The denominations that tried to get more like the world collapsed, the denominations that remained faithful to the gospel did just fine, and the Catholic Church flirted with the world. This was a ghastly idea from which we were just starting to recover, and now Pope Putz wants to give it another try. He will plunge us into another fifty years of darkness if God doesn’t see fit to save us, but at least we were pretty healthy on the eve of the last “procedure.”

            “Do you really think that the 1950s Church where authorities banned books and movies, nuns used corporal punishment, and girls who found themselves pregnant would be locked up in convents would work in 21st century America?”

            I doubt it, but it’s worth a try.

            “It strikes me as a very cold, unfeeling sort of religion that could have cared less about its members.”

            Critics of the preconciliar Church never quite seem to be able to agree whether it was “paternalistic” or “cold and detached.” I tend to think “paternalistic” the better criticism, because we at least then agree on the point and disagree only on the valence.

            “What exactly was bad about the Council?”

            Nothing was bad about the council, per se. It taught no error, although a quick glance through Rynne will tell you that it wasn’t because some folks didn’t try. No, what was bad was what was done after the council in its name, almost none of which had any basis in the conciliar text. It we could take Vatican II in isolation, fine, but we can’t—it ushered in the age of the infernal and so-called “spirit of Vatican II” that has brought us close to shipwreck. It helps to keep in mind that infallibility—in which an ecumenical council shares—is a negative charism. It guarantees that a teaching will not be error. It does not guarantee, however, that the teaching will be felicitously-worded or, as relevant here, well-timed. The council threw the Church into chaos at the precise moment in which the chaos of the world left Catholics most needing stability. Of all the times to imitate the world! Small surprise that the seminaries and the pews emptied, and small wonder that, as catechesis collapsed, the succeeding generations became, in the main, victims of systemic religious illiteracy. There are oodles of Catholics—at least 60%, Quinnipiac found just last week—who don’t know what their own faith teaches. That’s terrifying, for them and for us also.

            “There are larger problems in the Church than the translation of Latin to the vernacular and the proper amount of sparkle on the priests’ vestments.”

            There is no larger problem in the Church than the liturgy. If we can’t even get it right at the source and summit of our Christian life, if we get God wrong in the point of our closest approach to him in this world, we will get it wrong everywhere. Destroy the liturgy, destroy the Church—which is precisely what we have seen.

            “Benedict was frankly fiddling while Rome burned. It is my understanding that he is personally a very nice man and his decision to resign was a good one. However, that doesn’t mean that he had the skills or personality needed to be pope. He really didn’t.”

            Benedict the Great was precisely the pope we needed after John Paul II. He wasn’t perfect—his unwillingness to manage and his attachment to Bertoneare things that I have faulted before; his naive belief in the power of example and his skepticism of the power of his office, likewise—but the times in which he lived gave him more pressing business. But perhaps more than anything else, his great accomplishment was that he taught clearly and teed up the shot for his successor. The Church stood ready and waiting for a Pius XIII or a Dominic I. That the cardinals choked is not on him. He found Rome in ruin; he left her in marble.

            “And yeah.. Francis likes simpler vestments and has a more populist style. But those are really important aspects of his reform program. And his Masses are still Masses.”

            Populism is little better than botulism, in my view. It is and has been the great enemy since at least the days of William Jennings Bryan. Defending Francis by calling him a populist doesn’t get very far with me. As to his supposed “reform” program: He was elected to reform the curia. He seems to have misunderstood.

            “Clericalism is a huge issue with the Church.”

            Clericalism is a huge issue in the Church of the 16th century, which now lies at least a few years behind us. Today? Not at all. Polio has a better outlook.

            “And yes, lay people should be able to question Church authorities.”

            On matters beyond the scope of the magisterium, and in an appropriate tone? Yes. Certainly. For example, I criticized Benedict’s decision to rescind the excommunications on the SSPX leadership. And, obviously, I criticize Benedict’s successor quite robustly. That is a very different business to those who set themselves up as a kind of paramagisterium, empowered with appellate review of doctrinal points already decided.

          • Illinidiva

            “That is the precie opposite of humility. A humble man recognizes that the papacy is bigger than him and that he is its servant and instrument, rather than it being his plaything—”Peter has spoken through Leo.” Benedict, for example, was not Ratzinger. Francis is, so far as I can tell, completely Bergoglio, and feels no obligation to be anything but.”

            And Bergoglio being Bergoglio is just what the Church needs. And I hope/ believe that future popes will have to follow his example.

            I’m not sure what he has done to make his office a “plaything.” So he insists on using a Ford Focus rather than the official Mercedes and likes making his own phone calls and scheduling his own appointments. It is frankly not a bad thing for a leader, especially a religious leader, to model a simpler, more accessible lifestyle.

            “There is every reason why he should not. Francis is Pope. Surely you see why that is completely different from President of Italy.”

            The President of Italy could set off a serious diplomatic crisis with ill-timed words. Look at Obama’s throw away line about Assad crossing the “red line.” All Pope Francis did was cause whining to break out among a small section of Catholics.

            “I don’t think that a pope should spend too much time worrying about riots in the Muslim world.”

            The Christians in the Islamic world would disagree with that statement.

            “The denominations that tried to get more like the world collapsed, the denominations that remained faithful to the gospel did just fine, and the Catholic Church flirted with the world. This was a ghastly idea from which we were just starting to recover, and now Pope Putz wants to give it another try. He will plunge us into another fifty years of darkness if God doesn’t see fit to save us, but at least we were pretty healthy on the eve of the last “procedure.””

            All religions saw a drop in attendance and if the Church was so healthy, John XXIII wouldn’t have seen the need to call the Council in the first place.

            “I doubt it, but it’s worth a try.”

            Because you would like to see the complete collapse of the Church?

            “victims of systemic religious illiteracy. There are oodles of Catholics—at least 60%, Quinnipiac found just last week—who don’t know what their own faith teaches. That’s terrifying, for them and for us also.”

            They know what the Church teaches; they just disagree with it.

            “There is no larger problem in the Church than the liturgy. If we can’t even get it right at the source and summit of our Christian life, if we get God wrong in the point of our closest approach to him in this world, we will get it wrong everywhere. Destroy the liturgy, destroy the Church—which is precisely what we have seen.”

            The fact that priests were abusing children and bishops like Law, Myers, etc. were covering it up strikes me as much more important than that.

            “But perhaps more than anything else, his great accomplishment was that he taught clearly and teed up the shot for his successor. The Church stood ready and waiting for a Pius XIII or a Dominic I. That the cardinals choked is not on him. He found Rome in ruin; he left her in marble.”

            Umm.. So I guess that you don’t read many newspapers? Or perhaps you forgot about the butler stealing confidential documents? Or the fact that new sexual abuse scandals keep popping up? Or perhaps the fact that the IOR is suspected of being a money laundering haven? Benedict may be a great scholar, but he was a poor administrator and politician. He should have gone back to Bavaria and written his books.

            And the cardinals didn’t drop the ball. They were angry about the disrepair of the Church and went really anti-establishment.

            “Populism is little better than botulism, in my view. It is and has been the great enemy since at least the days of William Jennings Bryan. Defending Francis by calling him a populist doesn’t get very far with me. As to his supposed “reform” program: He was elected to reform the curia. He seems to have misunderstood.”

            Francis sees reform as being much bigger than just the Curia. Considering some of the awful scandals associated with the local churches (i.e. Ireland, the U.S., multiple countries in Latin America, etc.), the entire Church needs a good scrub.

            “Clericalism is a huge issue in the Church of the 16th century, which now lies at least a few years behind us. Today? Not at all. Polio has a better outlook.”

            There are many priests who don’t “smell like their sheep.” I’ve met lots of priests who are more concerned about their careers, etc. than the people they serve.

            “On matters beyond the scope of the magisterium, and in an appropriate tone?”

            So what is an appropriate tone? Just wondering.

  • Romulus

    I suggest Francis sub out all future interviews to Benedict. Couldn’t hurt. Maybe a couple more encyclicals could be ghost-written also? Francis can still handle the baby kissing and rock star foreign tours. No one wants a pope to be over-worked.

    • Illinidiva

      Do you want me to go through all the gaffes that happened under Benedict’s watch? The one that annoys me the most is still playing footsie with “Bishop” Williamson and friends.

      • Romulus

        Really? The one that annoys me most is his abdication.

        • Illinidiva

          Because you want Williamson.. aka someone who denies the Holocaust.. associated with the Catholic Church?

          • Romulus

            Where do you think a sinner would be best off? I want the whole WORLD to be associated with the Catholic Church.

            It seems YOU are the one who envisions the Church as a private club for super-Catholics. You crack me up.

          • Illinidiva

            But you want them to conform to your narrow version of 1950s Catholicism, which does exclude people from it. Lapsed Catholic is the second largest denomination in the U.S. – about 10% or 30 million. None of the churches in Italy are ever full despite the country being Catholic. It seems that the Church has been bleeding people for the past fifty years, but Church higher ups don’t care. Rather than dealing with those lost sheep, time and energy was spent making a small schismatic group with anti-Semitic leanings feel welcome. This included massaging Church teachings. If the SSPX wants to return to the Church on their own and repent, then I am all for it. But they shouldn’t be getting extra handholding and cookies.

          • Romulus

            So, if I understand you: 1950s Catholicism excluded people, but the hemorrhage of lapsed Catholics is much worse now, 50 years after Vatican II opened the windows. Did I get that right?

            So glad to read you are against massaging Church teachings as a concession to special people. There are some people in the SSPX who might like to discuss this with you.

          • Illinidiva

            All major religions are losing members and have been since the 1960s. The only churches that are maintaining members are the Evangelical megachurches. And this has to do with the atmosphere. Megachurches are very welcoming and open despite being very large. I have never felt that way at a Catholic parish. I cannot imagine that 1950s Catholicism with its strict rules, Latin Masses, and clergy who felt that they were nobility and the “peasants” should bow and scrap to them felt very welcoming.

            As for the SSPX, they got special accommodations for the Latin Mass and got numerous meetings with the Pope and top Vatican officials. Yet, despite that, the group couldn’t bring itself to sign off on Vatican II, i.e. documents condemning anti-Semitism and supporting religious freedom and democracy.

          • Romulus

            The “Latin Mass” motu proprio was not just an accommodation, and not just for the SSPX. It was a gift for the enrichment of the whole Latin Rite. I am a beneficiary and have never been to the SSPX in my life.

            Your grasp of the SSPX complaints is tenuous, probably because you’re not interested in the highly pertinent arguments and ideas they espouse. It’s not very welcoming of you.

          • Illinidiva

            I don’t listen to the ramblings of reactionary conspiracy theorists.

  • W. Randolph Steele

    I just all the spinning going on here and other sites as to “what the Pope really said” Give it a rest folks. He know what he’s saying AND why. Fr. Lombadi even today that the Pope approved the interview and it’s translation just as he did with the interview in America. It seems ti me that he’s telegraphing or trying to prepare everyone to ready for some big changes that he has in mind, including reining in the bureaucrats in the Curia. Who, by the way tried to sabotage Vatican II, but were overruled by Pope John XXIII.
    Why does Pope Francis have the credibility with the general public when his predecessors did not? Simple, he walks the walk and he talks the talk. What we have here is pastor NOT a potentate.

  • Illinidiva

    Frankly, I’m getting really tired of the Pope tending to SuperCatholics and patting them on the back and giving them extra cookies. I’m 31 and it seems that the only people who have mattered to popes are those SuperCatholics who are already following Church teachings. I really don’t remember much about JPII before he got ill but that was my take on him. And I do think that that was really true with Benedict. He seemed like the SuperCatholics’ dream pope, especially with all the time and handholding given to the SSPX and fixation on bringing back pre-Vatican II liturgical traditions. As someone who went to fairly conservative Catholic schools growing up and who is currently paying for therapy because of it, I can tell you that this is the last thing that would draw me back to the Church. What has drawn me back to the Church is Francis and his example.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      Welcome back! I hope that you can grow to appreciate Benedict through Francis.

    • W. Randolph Steele

      Illinidiva, I was where you are. I spent 6 years in therapy, from 1990 to 1996 getting over my Catholic School years-1958-1970. I still have the t-shirt my therapist ( a Catholic at my local Catholic Social Services) gave me that said”I survived Catholic School”. As part of that, I came back to the Church in 1991, finding a progressive parish. However, I’ve never been completely comfortable until NOW with Pope Francis.

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

    Absolutely agree. At some point you can’t blame the listeners and you have to admit you have a communication problem.

  • ErnstThalmann

    The relativism in Francis’ quote about seeking good is so obvious that
    one can only attribute the denials here to the kind of credulity or
    misguided loyalty one might expect of a White House press secretary. One
    is almost reminded of the joke that began, “Did you hear about the
    pope’s latest miracle?” When the respondant replies, “no”, the teller
    goes on: “He made a blind man lame”! I’m afraid we’ve got a first class
    klutz in Francis. He’s well intentioned, of course, just a tad short in
    the common sense department.


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