Let’s All Panic Over Franciscogenic Papal Change!!!!!!!

Let’s All Panic Over Franciscogenic Papal Change!!!!!!! October 5, 2013

This morning, I read Dolan confirms error in Scalfari interview in the National Catholic Reporter.  It confirms that there was at least one factual error in Scalfari’s interview:  he suggests that Francis, upon hearing of his election, left the Sistine Chapel, panicked, wanted to decline, then got his head together, felt better, and went out to get dressed.  But

As veteran Italian Vatican writer Andrea Tornielli has pointed out, however, there is no room next to the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square, which is located in the middle of a long hallway, raising doubt about the literal accuracy of the quotation.

In any event, Dolan said, the sequence put on the pope’s lips by Scalfari is out of order.

Francis did not hesitate before accepting his election, Dolan said, although there was a moment later when he paused in prayer before stepping out onto the balcony for the “Habemus Papam” announcement.

Okay, not such a big deal, right?  We’re still weathering this huge FRANCIS CRISIS, which is going to spell DOOM AND DISASTER for everybody and everything, and the SEA LEVELS WILL RISE and there will be GIRL CARDINALS, and puppy dog cardinals, and Benedict’s name will be chiseled off all the walls, and the speaking of Latin will be punished with excommunication, and there will be dogs and cats living together, and so on.

Then there’s this:

Respected French Vatican writer Jean-Marie Guénois confirmed with Scalfari that he didn’t tape the interview, nor did he take notes, so the text was an after-the-fact reconstruction.

He didn’t tape the interview.  He didn’t take notes.

He didn’t tape the interview.  He didn’t take notes.  

He didn’t tape the interview.  He didn’t take notes.  

I’m just a teeny, two-bit, part-time writer on the very outer fringes of what could possibly be considered journalism, and even I know that this is outrageous.  Insanely irresponsible.  Something that should make people lose their jobs and all credibility forever.  Holy shit.  As my sister Devra Torres said, “So we’re commenting on a bad translation of a hazy memory in the mind of a presumably heavily biased source.”  One more thing?  Scalfari is 88 years old.  But I’m sure his memory is completely accurate.

So, I know this is a big deal.  But not for one second do I think that the Francis haters will so much as bat an eye.  We’ll get a shrug and a grimace, and they’ll continue with their self-congratulatory dirge celebrating mourning this tragic decline of the papacy.

Why?  Because Francis haters are like the prophets of climate change.  No matter what happens, it’s just more evidence for what they’ve been telling us all along.  Got a hurricane? Expect to see more and more of this kind of thing, because climate change!  One of the calmest hurricane seasons in the last 62 years?  Continue to panic!  Because climate change!  Polar ice caps melting?  You see, that’s climate change!  Polar ice caps growing and getting icier?  Have you not been listening???? This is classic climate change.

When you’re completely wedded to the idea of anthropogenic climate change, bad news is bad news, and good news is bad news, too.

Same with the Francis haters.  Absolutely anything you say about the man — and about the demonstrable, incontrovertable good effects of his papacy — it’s all just more evidence of bad news.  They don’t like what he says, and then they hear that he didn’t actually say it, and the response is, “I’m tired of the excuses!”  Okay.  So you’re tired of the truth?   Yeah, I thought so.

Even things that have nothing to do with him are magically attributed to his malign influence.  And when we hear about — oh, people becoming interested in the Church again . . . people asking their Catholic friends questions, because they’ve heard there’s something interesting going on in Rome . . . people considering joining RCIA, or getting their marriages regularized, or going to confession in droves . . . well, there you have it.  Proof that Francisogenic Papal Change is ruining the Church.  Because they are not the right kind of people, you see.  Their hearts aren’t having the right kind of conversion.  Their experience of the love and mercy of Christ isn’t authentic enough.  How can you be so blind?  THIS IS A CRISIS, PEOPLE.

Because if it’s not a crisis, we might have to change how we look at the world.

Well, we shall see, won’t we.  If the climate really is changing, there’s not a hell of a lot we can do about it.  If Francis really is ushering in a new era, he is the Pope, and he calls the shots.  So we’ll see what’s changing, and why, and how it all shakes out.  I’m putting my faith in the Holy Spirit.  If you’ve been paying any attention at all, you’ll know that

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.

The wind is blowing, and so far, it feels good.

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  • chezami


    In a bizarre U turn, Pope Francis, having spoken about the need for a more transparent papacy, has instead authorized an interview with a journalist who neither took notes nor recorded the interview. Vatican observers are shocked and believe this signals a clear move toward the approval of abortion as a sacrament. Meanwhile, conservative Catholics are convinced that that Pope has again betrayed their deepest….

  • richard

    Dare I say that we may be on the verge of a “new heavens and a new earth”?

  • Rakhi @ Pitter Patter Diaries

    Amen, Simcha, amen. Can’t wait to see what the Holy Spirit has in store! Some heads are gonna be in all out spin. Is it wrong that I look forward to that?

  • Nathan

    So now that we (apparently) know that the published interview was inaccurate, perhaps Ms. Fisher, Mr. Shea, and others in the establishment media will feel free to say what the “Francis haters” have been saying all along: that the pope’s (supposed) remarks were outrageous and scandalous. But perhaps not, since so much energy has already been spent twisting the words into sounding Catholic.

    • simchafisher

      “they have already spent so much of their energy trying to twist the words into sounding Catholic.”
      Citation, please. What I have done so far is rejoice over the stuff that sounds good and Catholic, and question the accuracy of the parts that sound weird and un-Catholic.

      • Nathan

        You’re right. I don’t know if you have yourself tried to twist his words. I edited my comment, and I apologize.

    • chezami

      The coverage I’m seeing is that basically Francis was content that he caught the tenor of the conversation well enough that he had no objection to its publication. At the same time, don’t assume that any given “quote” is a quote. Bottom line: don’t look to this interview for exact theological precision. Do look to it for a pretty good sense of what the Pope has to say in a conversation with an old Italian atheist. And what he has to say is, surprise!, completely compatible with the teaching of the Church because he is, you know, the Pope while the Combox Bishops who are panicking and declaring him the Heretic Pope are discernment-free Conservative Catholics who can’t cope with or understand a bishop who does not use their shibboleths and code words. Get it: the Pope said nothing scandalous or outrageous (in terms of being heterodox). The only scandal he has caused is the scandal of the gospel, because he is proclaiming the teaching of the Church. Part of that teaching is that the Church is go out into the highways and byway and bring in the poor, crippled, blind and lame. In a word, the riff raff–including old atheist Italian reporters. Reactionaries want a pope who will draw sharp lines that keep the riff raff out and the Pure safe. We have a pope who does not give a shit about preserving Fortress Katolicus and who is intent on crossing lines to bring in the Riff Raff. Result: Reactionary panic. Get used to it. He’s not going to change.

      • Nathan

        Like it or not, the pope made it pretty clear, intentionally or otherwise, that the idea of “bringing in the riff-raff”, i.e. of the atheist’s conversion, is, to him, “solemn nonsense”. If this is not scandalous, why are so many Catholics upset by it? Does the fact that it’s an interview, in which we shouldn’t expect “theological precision”, make it less outrageous? Can you deal with the problem instead of dismissing everybody else as “reactionaries”?

        • Mr. X

          Nathan, I think you better check your terms. Pope Francis was right, at least according to Pope Benedict.


          • Nathan

            This is exactly the kind of “twisting” that I’m talking about. If you really believe that the HH was using “proselytism” in the same sense as Benedict, then you must have forgotten the question that he was answering.

          • chezami

            Translation: You want to believe the worst about Francis and the best about Benedict, because you are a Reactionary who has totally swallowed a false narrative about both of them. Try listening to the Holy Father and not simply reacting.

          • Nathan

            Mark, I don’t think what I said merited a translation, let alone one from you. It’s pretty clear that:

            1. Francis and Benedict were not saying the same thing. (Remember, Francis was responding to a question about whether the atheist should convert.)

            2. Even if Francis and Benedict did say the same thing, it doesn’t make it less outrageous or scandalous. (In other words, “Benedict said it too” is not an argument.)

            Please deal with the arguments instead of calling me names.

          • chezami

            Right. “Outrageous” and “Scandalous” is not name-calling. And it is “splitting hairs” to point out that Benedict and Francis (and JPII) said exactly the same thing about proselytism. And the only thing standing between the True Faith and plans for its destruction by our Heretic Pope is guys like Nathan. Time was that this sort of arrogant cocksureness was called “Protestantism”. Now it’s Truly True Purely Pure Traditional Catholicism.

            What massive hubris.

          • Nathan

            I don’t think I’ve called anyone any names. We’re talking about (or at least _I’m_ talking about) whether what the pope said was “scandalous” and “outrageous”. I noticed that you still haven’t attempted to understand the pope’s remarks in their proper context. Instead, you’d rather dig up similar sounding quotes from his predecessors, as though doing so constituted an argument. (I noticed also that you continue to attack my character. That’s usually a sign of insecurity.)

          • chezami

            Dude. You are splitting hairs and trying to pretend that you only called the pope’s *words* “outrageous” and “scandalous*. And in your capacity as self-appointed combox bishop, you have consulted your magic 8 ball and concluded that when he speaks of proselytism he means something totally different than his predecessors. Why? Because you need him to, because you’ve decided he is the Heretic Pope and only you and your Reactionary pals can save the Church from him.
            Here’s the deal: he hasn’t said or done anything contrary to the Faith. He’s only said and done stuff that makes Reactionaries nervous and confused. News flash: The Faith neither begins or ends with you. Try a little humiilty.

          • Nathan

            Differentiating between a person and his actions is not splitting hairs.

            It’s you that stretch the pope’s words by comparing them with the words of his predecessors instead of interpreting them in the context in which he said them (which you still haven’t done, by the way).

            I haven’t called anyone a heretic. (Nor, for that matter, have I called anyone a “Francis hater”, “reactionary”, “self-appointed combox bishop”, or anything else.)

            You say “He’s only said and done stuff that makes Reactionaries nervous and confused.” Does this mean that everyone that’s upset by what he’s said is just a reactionary?

          • chezami

            Right. You declare his remarks “outrageous” and “scandalous” because you obviously regard him as teaching the Tradition.

            No. Not everybody upset by him is a Reactionary. Some people worried and upset by his remarks take the time to look at them in context and reflect on them in lght of the Tradition and discover that what he is saying is orthodox, beautiful, and largely a reiteration of his predecessors’ work since he’s, you know, the Pope and isn’t going to be saying anything really new–just old stuff in new ways.

            Reactionaries, in contrast, stay upset because they never bother to understand that what he’s saying is orthodox, much less beautiful, and so waste their time entertaining the prideful delusion that God has called them to defend the Faith from the Pope.

          • Nathan

            I don’t regard him as teaching anything. But that doesn’t mean his words can’t be scandalous.

            Speaking of context, you still haven’t recognized the proper context of interpreting the pope’s words, i.e., as a response to a question about the atheist’s conversion–not as an explication or continuation of some sermon or theological discourse by one of his predecessors. Understood in the proper context, I believe his words were scandalous.

          • robert chacon

            While I agree with your conclusions, I do believe Nathan is responding objectively and fairly. Saying something is “outrageous” or “scandalous” is not name calling. If people do misinterpret that the pope is saying we should not convert people , then that is scandalous in the precise term of the word. It could cause another to sin, a sin of omission, by not attempting to introduce others to Christ. That is scandal in the precise language of the Church. Outrageous, Im not so sure, but it isnt name calling. On the other, hand I agree with you that to assume that pope Francis would view the conversion of an atheist as nonsense, is to claim the pope is not a Catholic an even heretical. This seems the more unrealistic interpretation of the popes statements. As I stated before, we all need to calm down and trust in the Holy Spirit! And stop accusing each other!

          • Nathan

            And besides, “Benedict said it too” isn’t a very good argument in itself.

          • Mr. X

            OK. Sorry I got involved with a superior intellect like yours. I’m tagging out now. Have fun on your trip, and do send us all a postcard from Crazy Town.

          • Nathan

            Wow, overreaction much. Feel free to deal with the arguments instead of insulting me.

        • chezami

          Bottom line: rejecting proselytism (exactly as JPII and Benedict did) is not the same as refusing to evangelize. Meanwhile, your beating him over the head for saying exactly the same thing as his predecessors is not evangelical courage. It is excuse-making for your Reactionary hostility to a Pope who has, in six months, done more to reach out to the world than years of reactionary grumbling behind the walls of Fortress Katolicus has achieved. As is typical, the only time Reactionaries pretend to care about evangelism is when the Pope fails to tell somebody they are going to hell. This interview is, had Reactionaries but the eyes to see it, a prime specimen of Francis pursuing the Church’s evangelical imperative in a way fully in accord with the teaching of the Church.

          • Nathan

            Instead of splitting hairs over “proselytism” vs “evangelism”, why not view the pope’s remarks in the context of the question he was answering?

          • moseynon

            I don’t think it is splitting hairs to distinguish between the two, particularly in the context of the pope’s interview.
            I recently read, in the comments section of one of the Patheos blogs, a pastor remarking how he had been misunderstood by a newspaper reporter. The pastor had talked about the need for a Salt Ministry, taking the word of Christ to the streets. The newspaper reported the pastor as advocating “Assault Ministry.”
            The difference between a salt ministry and assault ministry is the difference between evangelism and proselytism, at least in Pope Francis view.

            I have seen many comments online from Catholics who view evangelism as nothing more than flinging the Truth at someone and then walking away. Pope Francis wants to actually convert people, to change their lives. He wants us to engage people where they are and show them Christ by our example. His view is similar to a saying attributed to St Francis of Assisi: “Preach Christ constantly. When necessary, use words.”

          • Nathan

            Dale, you say “The difference between a salt ministry and assault ministry is the difference between evangelism and proselytism, at least in Pope Francis view.” Is this statement based on any evidence? Or do you simply assume it because it’s the only to make sense of what the pope said?

            And even if it is what the pope thinks, in the context of the question he was answering, do you honestly believe he was making this distinction? You do know that he was being asked about the atheist’s (possible) conversion, right? If he then went on about the distinction between proselytism and evangelism, he would be dodging the question at best.

          • moseynon

            Yes, Nathan, I did read the interview. Are you familiar with the difference between a hard sales pitch and a soft pitch? The first tries to pressure the customer by listing all of the reasons he should buy, and asking for a commitment. The second approach allows the customer to take their time, become comfortable and see for themselves how the product meets their needs. The salesman stays with the customer, helping, answering questions, generally being supportive.

            The second approach is the one which Pope Francis is advocating. He is confident of the Church and the message of Christ. He knows it meets the needs of people. He wants them to realize that too, and he believes a soft approach wins more souls than a hard approach.

          • Nathan

            At what point during the soft pitch is the used car salesman allowed to suggest that he doesn’t really want the customer to purchase the car?

          • moseynon

            Nathan, did the pope say that he didn’t want Scalfari to convert?

            Sometimes a salesman will say “I am not going to try to sell you this car. I think you will find that the car sells itself.” That is the approach which Pope Francis took in this interview. Get to know one another, listen to each other, discover new ideas and new needs.

            I realize that it is a style that some Catholics are uncomfortable with. They prefer a more clean-cut, black&white discussion. A soft approach requires patience and it requires a level of emotional connection which the hard sell often lacks.

          • Nathan

            He didn’t say so explicitly, but he certainly _suggested_ it, which is what made his words scandalous. I think your attempt to read the pope’s mind is far-fetched at best. You should let the man speak for himself.

          • moseynon

            Nathan, we agree that the pope did not say he wanted Scalfari to remain an atheist. You say that Pope Francis implied that he did not want Scalfari to convert. Honestly, I baffled by that interpretation of the pope’s words . I am left wondering if you would have reached it if you have not already been inclined to view the interview in an unfavorable light.

          • Nathan

            Atheist: “Someone suggested that you want to convert me.”

            Pope: “Proselytism is solemn nonsense.”

            Dale, is the pope’s response affirmative or negative? If it’s not clear, in which direction do his words tend? If you really can’t see it, then we’re just going to have to disagree and leave it at that.

          • robert chacon

            Nathan, I completely agree with Dale and yet I loved Pope Benedict and his precise speech. Everything Pope Francis has done and said in his life is clearly Catholic. Why would one assume that he has no interest in the conversion of souls to Christ. To do otherwise, seems to me to want to ascribe a motivation that is completely out of character. The fact that the Pope that chose the word proselytism seems to make if very clear that it is the ONLY the argumentative and negative nature of proselytism , which is a fairly precise definition of proselytism, which he claims is nonsense. It has no implication on the Popes desire to see conversion. To believe the Popes actually cares nothing for the conversion of the world seems be almost a desire to find nefarious motivations on behalf of the pope. Im not saying you or others really do, but Be patient , Brother, have faith in the Holy Spirit!

          • Nathan

            Mr. Chacon, I’m not questioning the pope’s desire to see people convert. I’m talking about his _words_. Scandal is caused by people’s actions, not by the beliefs they hold in their heart (not directly at least).

        • 3221

          Increasingly Pope Francis is giving the impression of not being forthright.. His manner of communication with his flock is informal and chatty, and his statements can, in future, be denied, changed, or massaged if need be. Our Church needs prayers.
          Also, do not label those who are wary of this man as ‘Francis haters’. You are starting to talk like him. He knows well how to indulge in the art of subtle mockery.

    • Nordog6561

      You do breech an important point: for those to whom it applies, it makes no sense to claim on one hand that the pope’s comments really mean something wonderful and then on the other hands explain it all away by claiming bad reporting or bad translation.

      As Chezami notes below, I believe it accurate at least to say that the pope is happy with the gist of the interviews and reports of other statements.

      That at least should be problematic in our eyes I would think.

      Still, there’s that old saw about knowing a tree by what it produces.

      And the sapling I see before me bears fruit in the form of followers that tend to claim a greater, higher Christian love while demonizing as “haters” those of us with serious concerns.

      There’s a great inability on the part of many to recognize irony in that.

      In the end I would hope that those who follow the call to think and speak less on their obsessions in opposition to abortion, gay marriage, and the like, would extend that font of charity such that they think and speak less on their obsession in opposition as regards those such as myself who are seen as benighted haters by virtue of the fact that we voice our concerns.

      If the spirit of charity is due to those vivisectionists of healthy unborn babies, surely it is due to those of us branded as haters.

      • Nathan

        “You do breech an important point: for those to whom it applies, it makes no sense to claim on one hand that the pope’s comments really mean something wonderful and then on the other hands explain it all away by claiming bad reporting or bad translation.”

        Exactly. They should pick one or the other. The fact that there’s recourse to the possibility of a bad translation or misquote is evidence that, subconsciously at least, they know something is wrong.

        • Nordog6561

          Nathan, in fairness to the defenders, they could claim that the problematic passages are indeed problematic, but the other passages are wonderful.

          The problem with that approach is simply that in so doing one has chosen a de facto rule that the parts one likes are quoted and translated accurately, but the parts one does not like are quoted and translated improperly.

          Needless to say, such an approach does not, ah, help.

          • Nathan

            Sure, but nobody’s really arguing about the uncontroversial parts.

          • Nordog6561

            It’s still picking and choosing.

            I take to pope at his word. I don’t claim he didn’t say something just because I don’t like it.

            Bad translations and quotations only go so far in explaining away the problems.

      • robert chacon

        Excellent! Very fair point I think!

  • Every day the story is something else…this is exhausting.
    Pope Francis could end all the chaos and confusion if he’d simply STOP doing interviews and speaking “off the cuff”. JMO

    • Dan C

      I think he’s awesome. He has only helped the Faith. I hope he does an interview a day for the next year.

      • robert chacon

        lol! While I dont know if I would want in interview EVERY day, I do love that he is “shaking things up”. He hinted that this would be part of his papacy, and I do love it. However, we do need to keep in mind that much of his public speech is “missionary” as someone else just mentioned. That is a very good point by this poster that those of us in the Church need to keep in mind. These public statements by the pope are his way of “getting out into the streets” and having a dialogue with the world. It is awesome. However, it can cause confusion and I did appreciate the very clear and precise language of Pope Benedict. But, Pope Francis’ style is nevertheless an opportunity for the rest of us to engage in dialogue “in the street”, to ” mix it up ” with the same audience the Pope is engaging. However, that means we have to be clear on what the true message of the Church is. Therefore, Pope Francis is not only challenging the world to heed the message of the Gospel, but also challenging Catholics to know the Gospel, to understand everything about the Church. Pope Francis may be creating a “messy” papacy that is taking us out of our comfort zone. But its time we get out of that comfort zone and encounter the world! Pope Francis is awesome for that challenging us in his way!

        • LeticiaVelasquez

          He made me do an examination of conscience about my pro-life witness and I decided to re-emphasize the saving love of Christ to enliven the hope of the women who are in desperate straights and contemplating abortion.
          Thank you Papa Francisco!

      • I think he’s unintentionally helped delude “progressive” Catholics into thinking Church Doctrine will change for them- they haven’t stopped celebrating since WYD in the belief they will see the Church support gay “marriage” and the “right” to abortion. Poor ignorant fools. 🙁

        • Dan C

          As a lefty, I see no change coming in doctrine. I do not see that actually anticipated in NCReporter (a media-source held in low regard by conservatives) or Commonweal. One will have to cite the positions of these media sources to identify for me what I am missing.

          I do see an openness to the canonization of Oscar Romero, which the conflict-adverse Benedict was loathe to do. Although he indicated that he fit the image of martyr as defined by the Church. He just did not want to upset the conservative/Burke faction.

          I also see CDF head Mueller openly acknowledging that, despite conservative blog-dom’s rumors, liberation theology wasn’t abolished, but had two specific correctives. Which is long overdue for the libertarian Acton Institute (which denies the validity of Caritas in Veritate).

          Most well-read folks on the left acknowledge how socially liberal Benedict was. Which means so so many conservatives need to cherry pick and explain away his clear progressive leanings.

          I think you read “about” the left. I doubt you read the left.

  • CS

    I feel a bit chagrined about the circumstances of the interview…Why wasn’t there a handler or somebody savvy enough to say “Where are your notes???!!!”,…yadda yadda…. But, sigh, the man is human after all.

    • moseynon

      The interview was conducted by telephone, so there was no way to know that Scalfari was not taking notes or recording the conversation.

      In the journalist’s defense, the interview was not prearranged so he was taken off-guard when Pope Francis called. However, the newspaper should have made clear that it was publishing Scalfari’s recollections of the conversation, and not Pope Francis’ actual words. If the newspaper had done this, I think a good deal of the controversy may have been avoided.

      • No it wasn’t (a telephone interview). They made the arrangements over the phone, but the interview was in person one on one.

  • OldWorldSwine

    Another thing my more staunchly traditional friends might keep in mind; in The Interview, and probably many others, Pope Francis *is not talking to us*. He is doing mission work. The first step in mission work is to speak the local language. Pope Francis *is not speaking Church-ese* in these cases. The pope need not be making doctrinal arguments every time he opens his mouth in public.

    • steve5656546346

      When the Pope speaks, it is to the whole world. So, he can’t be a missionary in the sense in which you speak. He can’t speak to one specific person in ways that specific person might understand–to the exclusion of most of the rest of the world–because he knows he is giving a media interview!

  • Nordog6561

    >>Same with the Francis haters. Absolutely anything you say about the man — and about the demonstrable, incontrovertable good effects of his papacy — it’s all just more evidence of bad news. They don’t like what he says, and then they hear that he didn’t actually say it, and the response is, “I’m tired of the excuses!” Okay. So you’re tired of the truth? Yeah, I thought so.<<

    In addition to being a great amalgam of the Straw Man and Ad Hominem arguments, this statement, quoted above, represents a great lack of charity on the part of the writer.

    As such it leaves one wonder how it is that calling people "haters" and claiming they don't care about the truth, fits in with the new evangelical spirit at hand.

  • crossdotcurve

    The author is a climate change denier? yeesh…

  • John Allen did his usual excellent job in the Reporter article.

    In fact, I could tell the moment I read that paragraph in the interview that there was something wrong, and that something had been hugely garbled. The Hall of Benedictions, which leads to the balcony, is not next to the Sistine Chapel by any means, but probably a quarter-mile or so of up-and-down stairs and winding corridors away!

    It’s clear our atheist friend has no firm knowledge of either the procedures in a papal election or the layout of the Apostolic Palace, and if the Pope were speaking rapidly, he would not have gotten everything clearly.

    I think it’s possible that the “acceptance” Francis was talking about was the signing of the act of his election, which he actually mentions as taking place after he returned from prayer. So then, this could mean that after saying “yes” to his office, he went as normal to the little Room of Tears, where his prayer took place. Then he returned to the Sistine Chapel and signed the act; I think it is actually supposed to be signed there. Perhaps his “light” then came later in the Pauline Chapel (where if I remember right, he did ask to spend a few minutes), or when he stepped aside to pray just before going onto the balcony. Fascinating to speculate about.

    At the same time an excellent sign not to make too much of anything reported in the interview — especially parsing the wording as some people have done!

    • Paul NY

      Lori, your reconstruction seems more plausible, but then why allow the article to go to print uncorrected? Fr. Lombardi, Allen et al admit that Pope Francis reviewed and approved the article as is, and it is posted on the Vatican website.

      In a previous article Allen claims that Pope Francis has had a profound change in behavior and even personality as a result of this “mystical experience”.

      NCR: “Recently, I spoke to one of the cardinals who elected Francis…, who had been received by the pope in a private audience. The cardinal told me he had said point-blank to Francis, “You’re not the same guy I knew in Argentina.”

      According to this cardinal, the pope’s reply was more or less the following: “When I was elected, a great sense of inner peace and freedom came over me, and it’s never left me.”

      In other words, Francis had a sort of mystical experience upon his election to the papacy that’s apparently freed him up to be far more spontaneous, candid and bold than at any previous point in his career.”

      If it is true that Pope Francis considers this event to have inspired him to a radical change, it is surprising that he didn’t wish for it to be told more accurately and by a more reliable source.

      As for “Francis Haters”, there is no doubt that they are out there, however, questioning some of the Holy Father’s “spontaneous” words and actions doesn’t constitute being a hater. My greatest concern is that Pope Francis’ ambiguous statements will become fuel for even greater division in the Church. This should be avoided at all costs, because it is precisely this division that destroys any hope of evangelization.

      • I have never called anyone a Francis hater, especially not here, so I don’t know why you are laying all this angst on me. . .

        I haven’t the slightest idea why the article was allowed to go by without more correction, especially the obviously garbled part about the mystical experience. The way it described is an obvious physical impossibility, unless Francis is able to bilocate. . . But all sorts of things are allowed to go by at the Vatican, including some lulu mistranslations of important papal texts. Let’s not forget what happened with Light of the World and the condom kerfuffle. Francis himself just doesn’t seem the pedantic fussy type in regard to these things. If this is going to continue to be a difficulty — well, that’s what it’s going to be and we might as well get used to it. There are positives that balance it out, and we will get absolutely nowhere by simply complaining.

        Earlier today I watched a fascinating bit of video – an episode of Witness with Fr. Rosica, interviewing Msgr(?) Vigano, head of Vatican TV, who said that his cameras tracked the whole progress of the Pope going from the Sistine Chapel after his election to the Pauline Chapel, and it was clear that at the beginning as he was leaving the Sistine, that he had his head down and was clearly not paying much attention to anyone. After he got to the Pauline, he knelt in the back with some cardinals and began to pray. When he left, he looked wholly different, all lit up, if you will. That seems to confirm what I think happened. (Wonder if there will ever be a chance of watching that video?)

        • Paul NY

          Lori, I when I questioned the label “Francis Hater” I was not referring to your comment but to the main article. Sorry, I should have been more clear.

          My biggest concern right now is the hostile attitude and
          growing division in the Church. Much of this is due to poor communication and subsequent misunderstandings. In fact, isn’t most
          discord in families due to the same problem?

          Sadly, Vatican communications appears to be getting even worse which is surprising since it was probably the area of Curial reforms that was in the most urgent.

          I still believe that it was a big mistake to allow the
          Scalfari interview to be published as it was, and that does not make me a Francis hater.

  • Sean

    “Francis haters”? A bit over the top I would say and comparing people who are concerned about how the Vicar of Christ may be misinterpreted by the secular press to climate change loons is irresponsible and uncharitable.

  • perpper

    ” … and there will be dogs and cats living together …”

    Not to mention the coming of Zool to rule the world and the marshmallow god and … arrrrrrggggghhhhhhhh

    • Andy, Bad Person

      It’s Zuul. I am very disappointed that you’re geeky enough to make the reference without spelling it correctly.

  • I am reminded of G. K. Chesterton’s statement at the beginning of his biography: “St. Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox.” Chesterton states about saints: “He will generally be found restoring the world to sanity by exaggerating whatever the world neglects, which is by no means always the same element in every age. Yet each generation seeks its saint by instinct and he is not what the people want, but what the people need.” I wonder if the same goes for popes.
    Perhaps Pope Francis has gottern us to think along different lines and perhaps even engage each other in ways we had not considered.
    The questions asked by non-Catholics or non-practicing Catholics are amazing and may even be fruitful in time.

    • Strife

      Peter; Simon son of Jonah was a bigot towards the gentiles, and had to be publicly called out on his error by Paul.

      Franky The Papal Clown: Jorge son of Socialism in Liberation Theology Latin America, is a bigot towards the West and capitalism. We need a modern-day Paul to call him out on his clownish bias and his ridiculous heterodox statements. Franky’s no saint. And there is absolutely no evidence that he will be.

      • Dan F.


  • Strife

    “And when we hear about — oh, people becoming
    interested in the Church again . . . people asking their Catholic
    friends questions, because they’ve heard there’s something interesting
    going on in Rome . . . people considering joining RCIA, or getting their
    marriages regularized, or going to confession in droves . . . well,
    there you have it.”

    Really? Evidence please. Cite it.

    And show me evidence that these would-be “converts” are actually changing their stances and are now open towards accepting the moral doctrines of the Church. Because the overwhelming opinion that I’ve been hearing isn’t that pope Franky is converting the world to the Church, but rather, that he is converting the Church to the world.

    • Donna

      “Pope Franky?” Do you expect people to take your argument seriously after that?

      • robert chacon

        LOL! But his use of the familiar is fair because many of those who like his familiar style also are interpreting his message to their idea of the Church, rather than what the Church really teaches. Whatever you think the Pope Francis has said, he has made it clear that he “is a son of the Church”. The Pope is Catholic! Therefore, any interest factor he has stirred is problematic if you have people wanting to enter the Church for all the wrong reasons. Its problematic for those whose interest is raised and the Church. While I love the pope, and love the conversation he is stirring, it can come at a cost. The faithful just have to be that much more active , informed and faithful! But , Franky was a good rhetorical tool I believe to illustrate how some view him. A little too casually.

        • Donna

          No, “Pope Franky” is not a familiar term. It is nothing other than a sullen, adolescent display of deliberate disrespect. It’s a combox teenage temper tantrum by someone who’s not getting his way.

    • Maggie Goff

      If you were the only example of the Catholic Church with whom I had ever come in contact, I would want no part of it.

  • David Wendell

    I love our new pope ! I was a bit concerned about his alleged comment re “obsession about abortion and non-traditional marriage”. I do not see any obsession with these issues (especially from the pulpit). We are not to ignore these issues but should be more charitable when arguing for the church’s position. I am a conservative who loves the tradition of the Church. Does that make me a “reactionary” ? Guess I better look up the definition of reactionary. I certainly don’t want to become a reactionary hater (or a progressive/modernist hater). Oh, and I think commenters or article writers should refrain from using the “sh-t” word in their public writings. Or is that a reactionary attitude ? Yes, I use that word but I’m trying to not use it in public. From a sinner (obviously)

    • Dan C

      Benedict said damn near the same thing about stressing what The Faith stands for and not what we are against in the beginning of his pontificate. He singled out birth control, etc.

      Benedict was more radical, but less understood.

  • Dan C

    For those of us who “do” things, we often have a philosophy: the enemy of “good” is “better.” Another way to put it: we sabotage the “good” in a quest for the “perfect.”

    Instead of seeing “good” in which a faithless journalist reproduces to the pope’s satisfaction a long free-ranging dialogue.

    Damn good, I’m afraid and Ms. Fischer errs on her assessment on this.
    I would like to challenge Ms. Fischer to accurate portrayal of someone with whom she disagrees. She has been struggling with these interviews, not exactly getting correct the points or the context.

  • Dan C

    Conservative Catholics ignored Benedict’s teachings and words while extolling him highly, which I now think is only because liberals stupidly disliked Benedict. Clearly, conservatives did ot study Benedict, because Francis uses almost the same language. He says almost the same things.

    • AugustineThomas

      Nonsense. BXVI is the greatest theologian in the world, he would never make heretical statements like Bergoglio can’t seem to get enough of.

      • Dan C

        I recommend one read Amy Welborn’s postings over the past few weeks.

        Also, let’s unpack some of the difficult passages of the last few weeks-prosetylism: same said by JP2 and Benedict. Benedict was harsher.

        Can atheists be saved? Benedict said that those outside the Church are saved “on a large scale.” He has a whole sermon on this in 1964.

        Benedict starts off his ponitificate not wanting to focus on abortion, birth control, etc. but by being positive.

        Benedict’s first encyclical, and a constant returning theme is “love and mercy” without any need to qualify that as only for Catholics, or as “wuv”, that derogatory term used by conservatives when a liberal suggests God is Love, the title, by the way of Benedict’s groovy first encyclical.

        The third encyclical of Benedict- just beginning to be touched on by the social teachings of Francis, and Francis has yet to be as clearly socialist and pro-regulatory as Benedict.

        Benedict is brilliant, and a bit of a radical progresssive in many things. Perhaps you should read his encyclicals.

      • Dan C

        I am immensely entertained you can’t stomach calling him pope of Francis.

  • AugustineThomas

    The problem with the people who hate the orthodox and love Jose, is that, like Jose, they’re mostly heretics.. Right now I’m being about as uncharitable with my perceived enemy, Jose, as Jose is with his perceived enemies!

    We’ve had horrible leftist style popes before and we’ll survive this one too and get to another BXVI!

    • Dan C

      You clearly haven’t read his encyclicals. Francis is quite….conservative by comparison to Benedict.

    • Dan C

      And, it would be Jorge Maria Bergoglio. Now Pope Francis.

  • Remember, class, the Pope is only risking alienating conservative Catholics (“the ninety-nine”) so he can reach the aliented (“the one lost sheep”) by, well, um, telling them flat out that he has no intention of trying to convert them and that, technically, all they *need* do is follow their own malformed consciences. … Look, the world doesn’t hate us as much now as it did under that Nazi Pope guy, so it must be a good idea!

  • I think your assessment us 100% right. Bur Pope Francis would say that we need to be reaching out to the. “Franics Haters” as well, and you are pushing them away. We have to stop all this divisiveness, this “I’m right, you’re wrong.” Too many souls are at stake. The world is at a tipping point. Let’s forget our egos. Let’s get beyond the partisanship and, as Pope Francis is telling us, preach the Gospel of salvation.

  • jackryan

    Patheos bloggers are so like Obama in how they set up absurd straw men, and then proceed to pummel them without mercy.

    Lombardi himself is now struggling to tell us how to “interpret” Francis’s remarks, but Simcha can’t wait to start the name calling of all those evil, “rad trads” out there who were justifiably shocked at some of the comments made by the current occupant of the chair of St. Peter, including that we’re all already saved. This notion, moreover, that there have been some profound fruits of the first 6 months of his papacy is without any foundation – – other than that the world (and Obama) seem to be very happy that Francis thinks the Church should tone down the preaching against abortion and things like that. Rotten fruit if you ask me.

  • gsk

    Over the last six months, I have been dismayed over the furor surrounding Pope Francis, since many of Those Who Pay Attention have been in turmoil — at each other’s throats about how to interpret his words and actions. It’s not that Those Who Don’t Usually Pay Attention are now deeply curious about the Church, but that TWPA are at odds with any who are reticent to embrace all the words and actions at face value.

    TWDUPA may misunderstand him, but at least they’re taking notice. It’s a question of authentic communion, which has been deeply undermined. TWPA usually want communion with TWDUPA, but not at the price of truth. We all want to bring in the lost souls (since we were there ourselves) and we all want everyone to love Holy Mother Church, properly understood.

    Now we have name calling, retrenchment, and scrambling for a new narrative. We would benefit by a “restart button,” but it’s not possible. We cannot deny mistakes: in the Vatican (caught flat-footed), in the secular press (with mendacious intent), in the Catholic media (at the mercy of whatever comes down the pike) and in our personal responses (perhaps some of us are too attached to the daily barometer of news items).

    What is left? Division, strife, suspicion, and a lack of charity — and that is amongst TWPA! What is the outside world to think? What are TWDUPA to think? How do we restore communion with a pope who instructed the youth to “make a mess” in the dioceses. Perhaps that’s a good thing, but I would like a little understanding from others that my apprehension is not all about clinging to an archaic and dysfunctional view of the Church.

    Peace is a product of right order, and we must tread lightly. I am trying to assume the best of others; I would appreciate the same from my brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • I don’t know anyone who is a “Francis hater.” I do know some people who are unsettled and baffled by some of what’s been reported. And there is some concern among traditionalists over the “wound” (Pope Benedict’s word) due to the suppression of the Tridentine Mass among the Franciscans of the Immaculate. To characterize that as “hate” is rash judgment. Was Sandro Magister a “Francis hater” to say there seems to be a departure from statements and approaches of the two previous popes?

  • wpostma

    I love Pope Francis. I love how he’s managed to push buttons, and engage people, and get them talking about Faith and its influence and importance in the big questions that face us today. How do we live and love like Jesus lived and loved? How do we find a way to preach the Gospel at all times, in our daily lives, and use words only if necessary? How do we mend and heal, and love those who have fallen far from the Church and the Gospel? This is important work. Let’s do it, together, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Catholic Church.


  • Simcha, you’re a Francis-enabler. Don’t tell me you’ve not heard that Pope Francis was caught eating a veggie burger the other day! Clearly this abstinence from cows indicates a move on Francis’s part to declare Hinduism the True Faith. Be afraid, be very afraid.

  • Judith77

    Good post. I had to unfriend someone last week. I hate to do that. The people that perpetuate that self pious sickness are just as unfaithful as the unfaithful. It happens with every single pope. Jesus Christ, Our High Priest, Our Savior would not pass the approval smell test of these self righteous popery clans. ‘did you hear that! he said everyone gets to be gay now,’ did you hear that ‘no one is going to go to hell.’ screech screech ‘he is the anti christ’ He said no such thing.

  • Maura Shea

    Thank you for this Simcha. At least there are a couple of voices of reason (love!) out there among the clanging cymbals.

  • jpaYMCA

    I think Mrs. Fisher and Mr. Shea read too much lib media and not enough of the sane trad/conservative commentary, much of which has come from priests and layfolk whom they oft quoted in the past.

    Here, read it on the Vat website, in Spanish if you wish (decent translation). Now note the date on which it was published in l’Osservatore. Please communicate this to Mr. Shea…although he seems to know what you’ll write before you write it! http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/speeches/2013/october/documents/papa-francesco_20131002_intervista-scalfari_it.html

  • steve5656546346

    As some point, we are going to have to start showing the Pope the honor of taking him seriously. He keeps saying the same sort of things to the same sort of sources: in continues to do so, and therefore this must be what he wants.

  • richard

    After viewing the movie “The Shoes of the Fisherman” again for at least 5 times, I am becoming aware of certain similarities between the actions of Pope Francis and that of the movie.