Sunday, January 18, 2015


 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 free speech.

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 honeymoon.

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.


Daniel said...

Still confused. If Pope Francis is really a staunch conservative, why do so many of your staunch conservatives who comment here hate him so much? The simple solution is to read his actual words. He is, on doctrinal matters, a true conservative, but he also has an open mind and a concern for all -- the poor, the marginalized, the unpopular & scapegoated. That is why people love him.

Anonymous said...

Trying to classify this pope is impossible. Lack of clarity and confusion will usually carry the day.

Mike said...

Here's the "tell" in John Allen's piece:

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.

I'd paraphrase the italicized part above as Moderates want to have their cake and eat it too. I mean, sure, the Church teaches that X is sinful behavior, and of course it is, but we'll mercifully ignore your public, continuing and unrepentant engaging in X. Just come to the table of the Lord as you are; nothing special is expected of you; don't feel bad; ignore that downer Paul.

And lest anyone accuse me of neo-pelagianism, believe me, I have plenty of X's of my own, and I need all the grace the Lord can spare to deal with them. I just don't expect a "Get Out of Jail Free" card for my sins - there's no true mercy in that. It's up to me to confess and repent for what I've done, and to try my hardest (with the grace I've been granted) to dodge my X's in the future.

Gene said...

What Mike said.

CPT Tom said...

Daniel, see you are stuck in the media shtick, especially when you use their irrelevant terms liberal/moderate/conservative that project on groups their bias. Orthodox Catholics do not hate the Pope. just because they either are concerned about what he says, or is confusing. Disagreement does not equal hate. Many of us pray for him, and look for the good in what he does.

You are also mistaken that the Orthodox do not care about the poor. Far from it. Having a regard for following Church teaching is not exclusive of taking care of the poor. Saving souls is supposed to be part of taking care of the poor. As St Mother Teresa would say, we need to see Christ in each person including the poor.

You might want to consider what Mike wrote above. It is very wise and true.

God Bless!

Unknown said...

Eh. I don't 'hate' Francis, I just ignore his existence as best I can. Actually, since I'm a schismatic (or so Rome says), I don't even have to care about his opinions. Which I don't.

He is, after all, just a chemist with a loud microphone. It's not like his election as so-called 'Supreme Pontiff' conferred expert-level knowledge about every subject known to man.

Now, I know this is a Catholic blog, and this comment may be construed as disrespectful to those who comment here; if you're offended by what I wrote, I apologise. It's just reality as I see it.

Rood Screen said...


It really is an issue of confusion. If the written statements were consistently clear, then there would be no confusion. As Mike describes, there seems to be a movement to tolerate established teachings on faith and morals, but to withhold application of these teachings to concrete situations. This approach has mass appeal, but is it Godly?

Jdj said...

What Mike said.

Anonymous said...

Daniel @9:04AM, conservative is really not the appropriate word within a religious context, Pope Francis seems to be doctrinally quite orthodox. However, Pope Francis appears to be pastorally open to, shall we say, "new" approaches . . . the extent to which these new pastoral approaches encroach on doctrinal orthodoxy is yet to be seen.

Charles G said...

The Holy Father's words in the Philippines are a good start, but we still have the experience of his endorsement of Cardinal Kaspar and his putting those endorsing Cardinal Kaspar's proposal on changing teaching (and yes, I don't think it can reasonably be called merely "disciplinary" and not affecting doctrine) in charge of the first synod, and the manipulation of the same by such persons in charge. I won't breathe easier about this Pope until I see what he does in the wage of the October synod.

Jusadbellum said...

1) 'FREE SPEECH' has, in an age of political correctness ALREADY been seriously curtailed. No one is 'free' to say the "N" word or make fun of gays or women or other minorities without facing immediate termination from their employment. But if some starlet makes fun of or insults anything to do with Catholicism she's promoted and given awards for bravery.

Thus the folk who claim 'free speech' means we can insult religion with impunity are hypocrites. They don't believe in universally valid moral laws but in laws only that suit them.

Thus it's perfectly Ok for them to insult others but woe be unto you if you insult them and their sacred cows.

2) The left-wing preens and prides itself on being super-smart and super-well intentioned. They may have good intentions (who can judge?) but they are not particularly bright or well read.

Thus they read "trickle down" in Evangelii Gaudium and all ASSUME the Argentinian Pope MUST mean the evil Reaganomics is at fault for the world's poverty even though Reagonomics hasn't described US policy since 1988 and NEVER described the world's economic policy. The right-wing does not rule the US, EU, China, India, Russia, Brazil, or Latin America. Most countries on earth are some variation of socialist, run by secularists and various types of 'progressives'

So the Pope could not possibly have been condemning right-wing tea partier Reaganites. The only people actually in charge of the world are the ones who he was writing about.

Which means the professional left is wrong about EG and the professional right which reacts to them are likewise wrong.

WSquared said...

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.

THIS canard AGAIN?!

That's not what the Church teaches, despite what progressive and conservative reactionaries both would like to think.

Here is an excerpt some of her drivel.

Typical of the kind of "practicing" Catholic who never seems to realize that doing their research and giving the Church a fair shake--namely, that this is a matter of justice-- instead of swallowing the usual same old, same old.

I will play my violin in the background as you read it:

Oh, by all means: play it again, Father.