My comments first: The liberal media, post-Catholic clergy, religious and laity as well as liberal politicians have all touted Pope Francis as being on their side. They use his off-the-cuff remarks to reinforce this narrative in the press especially, religious or secular. Admittedly, while Pope Francis brings much of a 1970's mentality to the papacy and Vatican, if one actually listens to and reads what Pope Francis says and the complete context in which it is said, he is quite orthodox but with some quirks here and there, primarily liturgical, but again of the 1970's brand. His social message, while thoroughly Catholic, is composed of 1970's theology and perspective.
But with that said, he is ultra-traditionalist and very pre-Vatican II when it comes to popular devotions and preaching hell fire and damnation to include the very, very real influence of Satan. He seldom fails to mention Satan. He understands that the male/female complementarity of marriage must be applied to the Church which His Holiness constantly describes as Holy Mother, our Mother--something that is truly anathema to liberal Catholic theologians especially of the 1970's variety. He understands the relationship of Jesus Christ to the Church in terms of the Sacrament of Marriage, where Jesus is the Bridegroom and Holy Mother Church, the Bride of Christ. Thus in this theology no where can be found the hint that women could ever become priests for priests are the sacramental image of Christ the Bridegroom and Head of the Church.
And while his pastoral approach is not to turn people away from the Church (acting as a sort of dragnet gathering good along with bad) His Holiness knows that ultimately, God's grace will penetrate a person who will then experience conversion or they will reject it and suffer the consequences on their judgement day.
In terms of marriage and artificial contraception, I read a liberal, post-Catholics whine also at Crux, which you can read HERE. Margery Egan feels devastated by Pope Francis because His Holiness didn't let her off the hook in terms of her artificially contracepted sex life, within marriage albeit. Thus we have the manipulation of the left which uses saccharine bleeding heart sentimentality to manipulate people into feeling sorry for them and not blaming them for their sins against God and nature.
Here is an excerpt some of her drivel. I will play my violin in the background as you read it:
In the United States, his words will have little practical impact.
Most Catholic women have used birth control for decades. There are no
more families with 12 and 14 kids in the Sunday morning pews. But his
words do reveal a heartbreakingly backward perspective: that the highest
calling of married women is sacrificing all to rear children, as many
as come along, no matter those women’s talents or skills or dreams.
The practical implications of his words are, however, tragically real
in poor Catholic countries like the Philippines, where Pope Francis
reiterated his support of the ban. Too many babies are born there
already to mothers unable to care for them, clothe, or even feed them.
Abandoned street children already fend for themselves by the thousands.
The pope visited a teeming Philippine orphanage himself. He is not a
cruel man. What, possibly, is he thinking? That natural family planning
will somehow save the day?
Pope Francis left me feeling foolish for even hoping that he’d somehow
see his way to ending the Church’s completely indefensible contraception
ban. Mostly, I just feel sad.
So, John Allen asks in a much longer article the follow question (the full text is HERE).
Is the honeymoon over?
Taken in isolation, both the pope’s comments on Charlie Hebdo and his
strong language on gay marriage and contraception might amount to
little more than a one-day blip on the media and cultural radar screen.
But their coming so quickly, one after the other, has left some
observers wondering if this might create an inflection point, one that
marks a dimming of the public love affair with Francis.
Especially in the European press, immediate reaction to his remarks
on the Paris attacks was fairly negative, with some suggesting he had
condoned violence and others objecting to his insistence on limits to
That cycle of criticism came before he waded into the culture wars
Friday, but it’s easy to imagine that in secular circles, what he had to
say on gay marriage and birth control won’t make many people more
inclined to give him a break.
The one-two punch undeniably has brought some of the stiffest media
reaction Francis has faced since his election, but that’s not saying
much, since overall his coverage has been largely adulatory.
Time will tell how things develop, but at this stage there are three
reasons for suspecting it may be premature to write an epitaph for the
First, as reporting and commentary in coming days
unpacks what the pope actually said, his comments in both cases likely
will come to seem more nuanced and less harsh.
On Charlie Hebdo, it was clear at the time that the pope was not
condoning the attacks, especially since he began by saying that violence
in the name of God can never be justified.
His reference to giving a punch in the nose to someone who insults
his mother was a colloquial way of saying that deliberately mocking
someone’s deepest loves is irresponsible. He probably could have been a
little less casual in his choice of imagery, but Francis is hardly an
apologist for Islamic radicalism.
As for the gay marriage and birth control remarks, what will emerge
upon examination is that Francis was actually voicing the moderate
Catholic position, not veering to the hard right.
What he said about priests being generous in individual cases was the tip of the hand.
In broad strokes, liberals want the Church to change its teaching on
sexual morality and conservatives want it to be ever more aggressive in
enforcing it. Moderates uphold the teaching, but want to be flexible and
merciful in applying it to concrete situations.
In other words, nothing Francis said Friday night ultimately will
change the big-picture perception of him as a compassionate centrist.
Second, media narratives are surprisingly durable once they’ve been set in stone, and often prove stubbornly resistant to correction.
By now, most media organizations have invested a good deal of their
own credibility, not to mention a lot of money, building up the story of
Francis as a maverick populist and reformer, and it would take a lot to
convince them to let go.
It’s not clear that what we’ve seen this week, especially given that
it happened half a world away in the Philippines, will do the trick.
Finally, while Francis may occasionally do things
that challenge the narrative that has grown up around him, he also
constantly delivers words and gestures that reinforce it.
Saturday offered a classic example, as the pontiff flew from Manila
to Tacloban in the central Philippines to meet survivors and family
members of the victims of the massive 2013 typhoon, one of the strongest
storms ever recorded.
A less committed pontiff would never have made the trip.
A new typhoon, not quite as intense but still serious, was scheduled
to hit the area while Francis was there, threatening not only his
flight, but the stability of the stage where the pontiff would say Mass.
Even veteran travelers in the area were saying they wouldn’t set out
under those conditions.
Francis went anyway, donning the same yellow poncho upon arrival that hundreds of thousands of locals were wearing.
The pontiff had a homily prepared in English, which struck all the
notes a visiting politician or statesman should: concern for the
suffering, solidarity with the poor, a call to the international
community to support reconstruction, and so on.
The thing is, however, Francis isn’t a politician or statesman, but a
pastor, and so he utterly disregarded the text and spoke from the
heart, off the cuff, in Spanish.