Liberalism, as it exists today, is a fairy tale that occasionally bumps up against truth, gets perplexed and angry for a spell, then returns to Neverland. In few places is this more true than in the liberal media’s coverage of Pope Francis. I have written about this sad phenomenon here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Their delusions about Francis, and their ignorance of the Church they write about, never ends. And they seem to be woefully incurious about getting it right.
In the latest episode of this saga, an anonymous author (AA) for inquisitr.com writes an article titled “Pope Francis Might Not Be As Awesome As We Thought He Was.” Oh, no! Does that sound to you like it was written by someone in high school?
It is, thankfully, a short article, so let us get our red fisking pens out and begin.
Pope Francis continues to get so much love from the world for this simple reason: he is not ultra-conservative Pope Benedict.
That’s the lead. Yes, I know, we’re meant to think here that everyone hated poor B16—a claim that is so demonstrably untrue you wonder how anyone could write such words and not instantly combust—unless by “the world” AA means “the liberal media.”
Now, it is true enough that Francis has different emphases, and a different style, than Benedict did; that is true of any pope. But he is neither more nor less “conservative.” This is a fiction that has taken root. Already we see that poor AA (I wouldn’t have put my name to this piece, either) is unable not to see the world, and consequently the pope and the Church, through a political glass. That is why what we read here is so strange and silly. [Article continues below.]
Pope Francis has since shown us a very convincing image of a bold, refreshing deviant who has adamantly defied the church’s typically iron-fisted conservatism.
Deviant? That’s just an … odd word choice. One gets the sense that poor AA doesn’t have much of a feel for usage.
At any rate, AA now presents us with the standard list of all the topics on which Pope Francis has displayed an “adamant” and “refreshing” deviancy: “LGBT, women’s rights, atheism, and evolution.” Now, anyone who will do half a minute’s worth of Google searching on these topics as discussed by Catholic bloggers, who know a thing or two about the Church, will discover that Pope Francis has said nothing all that shocking. We’ve heard these same things before, from other popes, incuding the evil Benedict.
On the topic of evolution, for example, AA links to a source—one source—which happens to be the very same news site AA writes for! Talk about living in an echo chamber.
And yet AA, if he or she had thought to bother with such trivia as research, could have looked into the matter and found this article by Mark Shea (Catholic author) showing how Francis has said nothing that hadn’t already been said by both John Paul II and Benedict XVI, as well as no less an authority than St. Thomas Aquinas, 500 years before Darwin. Imagine that! Francis is not giving us some radical break with the past here. Or, AA could have found this article by Mike Flynn (Catholic author) explaining why, in standard Catholic thinking, creation and evolution are perfectly compatible. Or, if AA felt it beneath his or her dignity to read unclean Catholic sources, he or she could have found the very same information at Newsweek, here.
Indeed, anyone who shows the least amount of curiosity about these issues will soon discover that, in every case, when Francis speaks, he says nothing that has not already been said by John Paul II and Benedict XVI and the Catechism. I’ll go further. Not only has Benedict XVI often said the very same thing Francis has, on issue after issue, but he has done so in even stronger words. Nowhere is this more true than on the topic of capitalism, as I explain here.
Pope Francis, the first pope to hail outside Europe, was an instant fan favorite for being so evidently anti-poverty.
Now, the idea that Benedict was somehow pro-poverty is so ignorant it is insulting to anyone who knows what they’re talking about. Has AA not read Caritatis in Veritate? It’s right here, on the Vatican’s Web site—a good place to go if you want to know what the Church has, you know, said. Or what about Benedict’s message for the World Day of Peace in 2009 (here), the very title of which is “Fighting Poverty to Build Peace”? Search and you will find that the Church has been against poverty for a long time now. Maybe AA should read this, or this, or this, or this, or this. Does AA want to know what he or she is talking about? Does AA care?
But, dear reader, did you catch the other error that AA made in this passage? You know, the claim that Francis is “the first pope to hail from outside Europe”? Uh … no. The first pope from outside Europe was the first pope. Perhaps AA has heard of St. Peter. Or perhaps not. Peter was from Israel—that’s in Asia, if you did not know. Here’s a list of eight other popes who were not from Europe: Evaristus (ca. 99-107, from Israel); Victor I (189-199, from Africa); Miltiades (311-314, from Africa); Theodore I (642-649, from Jerusalem); John V (685-686, from Syria); Sisinnius (708, from Syria); Constantine (708-715, from Syria); and Gregory III (731-741, from Syria).
So Francis is, in fact, the tenth pope from outside Europe. He is merely the first in a long time. If AA does not like Catholic sources, he or she could have found this out from CNN. They must be really un-inquiring over at Inquisitr, to not check up on even the most basic of facts. But one wonders: if Raymond Cardinal Burke had been elected pope, would AA be saying that he was the first pope from outside Europe? Somehow I doubt that anyone would be doing somersaults over this.
Now comes the real point of the article. AA scolds Francis for some remarks he made in the Philippines upholding the Church’s teaching on birth control, despite “historic promises” that the “hardened objection” would be eased “once and for all.” In other words, AA is shocked and dismayed to discover that the pope is Catholic. Who knew? No one, but no one, ever suspected this, let alone wrote about it.
And what does AA cite as evidence of these “historic promises” that the Church is on the verge of changing its teaching about contraception? Why, this article in the UK Daily Mail, which comes right out and says that the only concession the October synod made was that Church teaching on this point was (note my emphasis) “commonly perceived today as an intrusion in the intimate life of the couple.” Well, that’s just a statement of fact—a mere observation about things that are. “Church doctrine,” the article goes on to state plainly, “is not expected to change as a result of the debate.”
In other words, whatever the perceptions may be, it ain’t gonna happen, can’t happen, but we will continue to delude ourselves into thinking that it’s at the very door. This is what AA means by “historic promise.”
He or she continues.
Here’s the thing: If Pope Francis really is for the poor, he should be the first to see the overwhelming scientific connection between modern birth control and reduction in poverty. Unintended pregnancies occur the most in places where poverty is rife.
This is standard liberal propaganda: you can’t be for the poor and also against contraception. AA links to two studies (this one and this one), both from liberal advocacy sites, to try to back up the claim. But—go and take a look at them yourself—they are classic example of the correlation-is-causation fallacy. Liberals want there to be a connection; that doesn’t mean there is one.
But what we are asked to believe, in all this, is that, until the Church gives up its teaching on birth control and supports the liberal sexual agenda, it’s not really anti-poverty; that’s all just a charade. Liberals can not seem to understand that being pro-life and anti-poverty are positions in response to independent realities. To try to link them means only that you care more about birth control than you do about poverty; you are using poverty to try to promote an agenda about sex. It is birth control that is supposed to come first, as though it were a vaccine, and then poverty will magically vanish.
AA continues with some paragraphs about Pope Francis punching anyone who insults his mother, which aren’t all that relevant and don’t tell us much of anything except that AA thinks that Jesus would never punch anybody. Of course, Jesus did whip a few people, but AA does not mention this. He or she then concludes with this paragraph.
Despite these criticisms, I still maintain my opinion that Pope Francis remains to be one of the greatest leaders of this century. He is still the change the Catholic church direly needs.
Well, if all this promise of hope and change has turned out to be illusory, how can he be “the change we need”? (This is not writing, by the way; this is lifting slogans from Obama rallies.)
Many of his statements might still be a reflection of the same, old-fashioned pontifical attitudes, but if not for Pope Francis, the church wouldn’t have been this [much] closer to a more open-minded, more accepting Catholic society.
Oh. Now, let’s ask ourselves what this may mean, or if it makes sense at all. In spite of all these blighted promises and “old-fashioned” mores, Pope Francis is still somehow “open-minded” and “accepting” (in the liberal view of these words)? No. You can only say that if that is what you want to believe. You can only say that if you insist on living in your fairy tale.
I have said before that these bursts of reality about Pope Francis will be short-lived. Liberals will return to their daydreams, refuse to admit that the pope is Catholic, that Church teaching is not going to change, that it can not change, that no pope can change it. Every so often they will see this, and they will rise up and wail, and beat their breasts. Then they will drug themselves again. The irony here is that, for AA, all this happened within the very same article. Francis is “not as awesome as we thought he was,” the title screams, but then the last paragraph tells us that Francis is “the change we need.”
Yes, he’s the change we need, even though there has been no change. That is called delusion.
What is worse, if it were possible, is how much AA gets just plain wrong about Francis and what the Church teaches. And more than that, he or she seems to have no desire whatever to learn the truth. This is incurious and sloppy journalism at its worst, but the real sad thing is that this is what nearly all of the mainstream media has become with respect to the Catholic Church. It needs to be always exposed.
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