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Don't be shocked by Pope Francis

Posted by on Sep. 20, 2013 at 10:28 AM
  • 114 Replies
3 moms liked this


Editor's note: William Donohue is president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and author of four books, including "Secular Sabotage: How Liberals are Destroying Religion and Culture in America."

(CNN) -- Not in my lifetime have I witnessed a pope who has so quickly succeeded in making more Catholics, and non-Catholics, hyperventilate than Pope Francis. Indeed, some are ready to jump off the bleachers. They all need to calm down.

Pope Francis is delightfully frank, and that is what makes him positively engaging. He is also provocative in the best sense of that word. He seeks to challenge us and shake us out of our comfort zone. But he is not about to turn the Catholic Church upside down and inside out. Such talk is pure lunacy.

In a three-part meeting in Rome with Catholic journalists last month, Pope Francis offered his thoughts on a wide range of subjects; they were published Thursday by America magazine, the Jesuit weekly. Everyone should read it for themselves.

William Donohue
William Donohue

There is nothing new about ripping what a famous person said out of context, and that is exactly what is going on now with Pope Francis. The breaking news alert by The New York Times is titled, "Pope Bluntly Faults Church's Focus on Gays and Abortion."

In the Times alert, it says the pope discusses how "the Roman Catholic Church has grown 'obsessed' with preaching about abortion, gay marriage and contraception," and that he has been criticized for doing so.

It also quotes him saying the Catholic Church should be "home for all" and not a "small chapel" that is "focused on doctrine, orthodoxy and a limited agenda of moral teachings."

Regarding the pope's statements on abortion and gay marriage, here is what he said: "We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible." He also said, "when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context."

What the pope said makes eminently good sense.

For example, when I became president of the Catholic League 20 years ago, I visited the chapters around the nation and found that many were single-issue entities.

Some focused exclusively on abortion; others were obsessed with homosexuality; still others demanded we just concentrate on medical ethics. I shared many of their concerns, but I also told them we are an anti-defamation organization and should not become preoccupied with other matters, no matter how noble.


Father Rosica: Speech a change in tone


Pope breaks with tradition, shocks world


Dissecting the pope's in-depth interview


What is Pope Francis' message?

The pope is right that single-issue Catholics need to rise above their immediate concerns. He did not say we should avoid addressing abortion or homosexuality; he simply said we cannot be absorbed by these issues. Or any others.

Laurie Goodstein's article in The New York Times on the pope's comments says U.S. bishops will feel the pinch of these remarks as they often appear "to make combating abortion, gay marriage and contraception their top public policy priorities." This is inaccurate.

It is not the bishops who have made these issues front and center -- it is the Obama administration. It would be more accurate to say the pope would find fault with the bishops if they did not resist these state encroachments on the religious liberty rights of Catholics.

The Times alert was wrong to characterize the pope's "small chapel" remark as a criticism of focusing on "doctrine, orthodoxy and a limited agenda of moral teachings."

In the previous paragraph, he speaks about "the sanctity of the militant church." In the following sentence, the pope says, "[W]e must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity." Excellent.

Then, in the same paragraph, he cites the "negative behavior" of priests and nuns, saying their conduct is that of an "unfruitful bachelor" and a "spinster." He most emphatically did not say what the Times attributed to him.

Pope Francis unequivocally rejects abortion and gay marriage. Elsewhere, he has said, "[T]he moral problem with abortion is of a prereligious nature because the genetic code of the person is present at the moment of conception. There is already a human being." Similarly, he says, his opposition to gay marriage "is not based on religion, but rather on anthropology."

Pope Francis wants us to oppose abortion. He also wants us to reach out to women who are contemplating one, and to help women who have had one to find peace with God (that's why the Catholic Church has Project Rachel).

He wants us to oppose same-sex marriage. He also doesn't want us to reject lesbians and gays because they are homosexual. This is sound Catholic teaching.

Kudos to Pope Francis.

source

by on Sep. 20, 2013 at 10:28 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Sisteract
by Whoopie on Sep. 20, 2013 at 10:45 AM
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I'll let the Pope speak for himself-

This is just some person's opinion.

AlekD
by Gold Member on Sep. 20, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Father Z at wdtprs.com has written some good stuff about this as well. Here's something he posted yesterday.

Pope Francis, formerly a Jesuit, gave a series of interviews to the Jesuits.  The interviews have been edited together, with parenthetical commentary and descriptions of the setting and so forth, and translated by lay people and Jesuits for publication in Jesuit publications.  The English version is at the site of Jesuit-run America Magazine.

The interview is dense. There is a LOT going on in it. It is too much for the brain to take in at one sitting.

As you read the interview, and media coverage of the interview, you will find – and this is consistent with Pope Francis’ style of talking off-the-cuff – some truly quotable quotes, leap-out quotes that sit up and beg to be taken out of context.  Look at what the MSM is doing with some of them.

For example, the New York Times leads with a headline “Pope Bluntly Faults Church’s Focus on Gays and Abortion (By Laurie Goodstein).” Oh really? Is that what Pope Francis did? CBS has “Pope Francis: Catholic Church must focus beyond “small-minded rules” and goes on to say “Pope Francis has warned that the Catholic Church’s moral structure might “fall like a house of cards” if it doesn’t balance its divisive rules about abortion, gays and contraception with the greater need to make it a merciful, more welcoming place for all.” Oh really? Is that what Pope Francis really said? The CBS statement makes the Pope sound as if he thinks that the Church has to change it’s teaching about abortion and homosexuality or it will collapse like a house of cards.

Even if you haven’t read the whole interview/article, some 12000 words, common sense tells you that that is not what the Pope said.

It is important when reading the interview, and media coverage of the interview, to keep your eyes on those leap-out quotes. When you see the MSM using those leap-out quotes in a way that doesn’t pass the smell test, go back and look at the context, the whole paragraph.

The whole context of the paragraph deconstructs the leap-out quotes and makes those quotes make sense.

Also, think about the “Francis effect” in the reporting of this interview.

For example, if Benedict XVI – talking in an interview about the need for a theology of women and a deeper discussion of the role of women in the Church – had said what Francis said, the headlines would have screamed “POPE DENIES EQUALITY TO WOMEN!”. On the other hand, Francis, in this interview, spoke with real disdain for “female machismo” as a solution to the question of women’s roles. When you read the paragraph on women and women’s roles in the Church you discover that Pope Francis is NOT a fan of radical feminism. Francis spoke about what Popes before him have called “feminine genius”. Nothing new. He said, “a woman has a different make-up than a man” and “we must not confuse the function with the dignity.” But since this is Francis being interviewed, and not Benedict or John Paul, journalists will go with something like, “POPE WANTS GREATER ROLES FOR WOMEN!”.  You won’t read what the Pope really communicated: Yes, women must play an important role in the Church, but men’s roles and women’s roles are different, and that also means that women can’t be ordained.

That’s one example.  Another example we will have to look at along the way is what Pope Francis meant by “right winger”.  I don’t think he meant by that what the MSM – and the catholic media - is going to make of it.  I think there is more to it that the leap-out quote says in those few words.  I’ll get to that in another post.

Here is an overarching concern I take away from my first readings.

Through interviews – and the coverage of interviews – a “virtual Francis” is being created. An interview, by its nature, can only go so far. Short questions and short responses only go so deep.

We have to make sure that, with all the media attention, with all these interviews, that the “virtual Francis” is not stronger than the real Francis.

That is exactly what Benedict XVI – in his last days as Pope – said and warned about how the Second Vatican Council was interpreted. The media and others created a virtual Council.  Remember that? There is a Council of the Media and a Council of the Fathers.

Week by week a Francis of the Media is being crafted.

Another point:

Pope’s don’t govern through interviews.

Pope Francis’ speaks about a lot of heavy and burning issues: the role of women, abortion and homosexuality, to name a few. There is not a word in the interview that changes the Church’s teaching. He indicates what his interests are and his focus for his limited time and energy is going to be. That is an important take away from the interview.

If this Pope isn’t going to speak out a great deal about abortion or homosexuality, it’s because he knows that everyone is perfectly clear about what the Church teaches on these points. Francis – as is consistent with his old-fashioned Jesuit training – wants to be efficient in the use of his time and energy.

Because the Church’s teachings are clear, Francis will spend his precious time and energy showing a side of the Church that people, especially the MSM, hasn’t paid attention to: that the Church is not a museum of the perfect, it is a field hospital for sinners. Pope Francis is reminding the whole world that we are sinners and that we have to have compassion for each other, patience with each other, that we have to work to help each other even at some great cost.  Francis is, to put it simply, touching up the Church’s human face and presenting her anew to a jaded, fallen world.

I’ll have more thoughts about particular segments and statements in the interview along the line.  I wanted, however, to offer a few thoughts and lenses that might help you in your own reading of the interview and of the media coverage of the interview.




I agree with Sisteract that that Pope can speak for himself. That's why it is important to read what he actually says rather than just the headlines of what people are saying he said.

-Celestial-
by Pepperlynn on Sep. 20, 2013 at 10:49 AM
2 moms liked this
This guy is a world class idiot.

Religious fanatics always trying to speak for others.
candlegal
by Judy on Sep. 20, 2013 at 10:51 AM
1 mom liked this

Of course he is the only one doing that, right?

Quoting -Celestial-:

This guy is a world class idiot.

Religious fanatics always trying to speak for others.


Sisteract
by Whoopie on Sep. 20, 2013 at 10:53 AM
2 moms liked this

He is the one whose words you chose to post-

Quoting candlegal:

Of course he is the only one doing that, right?

Quoting -Celestial-:

This guy is a world class idiot.

Religious fanatics always trying to speak for others.



blondekosmic15
by on Sep. 20, 2013 at 10:55 AM
3 moms liked this

 quote>

Pope Francis unequivocally rejects abortion and gay marriage. Elsewhere, he has said, "[T]he moral problem with abortion is of a prereligious nature because the genetic code of the person is present at the moment of conception. There is already a human being." Similarly, he says, his opposition to gay marriage "is not based on religion, but rather on anthropology."

Pope Francis wants us to oppose abortion. He also wants us to reach out to women who are contemplating one, and to help women who have had one to find peace with God (that's why the Catholic Church has Project Rachel).

He wants us to oppose same-sex marriage. He also doesn't want us to reject lesbians and gays because they are homosexual. This is sound Catholic teaching.

Kudos to Pope Francis.

   shake hand

snookyfritz
by Gold Member on Sep. 20, 2013 at 10:56 AM
1 mom liked this

I think the problem is, is that most people don't speak Catholic.  Don't understand the language and it's easy to twist and contort what Papa says, because of what he doesn't say.  The things Catholics already know

Sisteract
by Whoopie on Sep. 20, 2013 at 11:01 AM

The Pope needs to focus his attention and words to the places where the church is growing- the third world. Another reason that a man from a 2nd tier country was a good pick for the leadership role.

The church is not growing in the US or western Europe- the US Catholic

congregation is not his primary focus.

prommy
by Silver Member on Sep. 20, 2013 at 11:02 AM
1 mom liked this

 

Quoting -Celestial-:

This guy is a world class idiot.

Religious fanatics always trying to speak for others.

 This guy is a world class idiot.

blondekosmic15
by on Sep. 20, 2013 at 11:02 AM
5 moms liked this

 

Quoting Sisteract:

I'll let the Pope speak for himself-

This is just some person's opinion.

When the Pope speaks for himself the media & those who despise the CC purposely misinterpret his statements to criticize him & Church teaching. Confusion leads to division & spreading false teachings.

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