http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pope_Francis_in_March_2013.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pope_Francis_in_March_2013.jpg

Yesterday was not a good day for right-wing Catholics. To the great delight of their opponents, Pope Francis declared himself outside that fold. “I have never been a right-winger,” he said. Roll over, Benedict, and tell JPII the news.

Of course, Catholic conservatives being what they are, the first move was to insist that the MSM had misrepresented what the pope said in his 12,000-word interview with the editor of the Jesuit newspaper Civilità Cattolica (translated and published simultaneously in a dozen Jesuit newspapers around the world).

“The New York Times headline reads: ‘Pope Bluntly Faults Church’s Focus on Gays and Abortion.’” Kathryn Jean Lopez began over at NRO’s Corner. “Believe it or not, though, he talked about more than sex.” “Please, folks,” pleaded Phil Lawler of CatholicCulture.org, “don’t be trapped in unproductive debates about what some uninformed reporter claims the Pope said.”

Sure, the Times and the rest of the MSM focused on what Francis had to say about the neuralgic issues that have held center stage for the American hierarchy in the last decade or so. To wit:

We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

Among the reprimanders would be Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, who told his diocesan newspaper last week, “I’m a little bit disappointed in Pope Francis that he hasn’t, at least that I’m aware of, said much about unborn children, about abortion, and many people have noticed that. I think it would be very helpful if Pope Francis would address more directly the evil of abortion and to encourage those who are involved in the pro-life movement.” By contrast, the pope said, “The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.” Capisce, Bishop Tobin?

Moreover, to pretend that this did not lie at the core of Francis’ message is the equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting la-la-la-la-la.

Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.

The pope’s “new balance” is that the church must dial up the essentials of the Gospel, and dial back the less necessary moral issues.

Over at the American Conservative, ex-Catholic Rod Dreher, no longer constrained to identify papal pronouncements with his own religious outlook, called a spade a spade.

I love his style — seriously, I do — but I am sure the liberal Pope has been very, very naive in his words here. Look at the weight the media, who amplify his words, put on the homosexuality, contraception, and abortion parts of a very long interview. The world wants to be told, “It’s okay, do what you like.” He no doubt doesn’t mean at all for that to be the lesson of his words, but that’s how they will be received. For liberals and Moralistic Therapeutic Deists within Catholicism, it’s springtime. For traditionalists and conservatives in the Catholic Church, it’s going to be a long winter. It was easy for conservative Catholics to be strong papalists under John Paul II and Benedict. This papacy is going to be a time of trial for them.

Personally, Francis doesn’t strike me as the naive type. While I don’t have a dog in this fight either, I think there are a lot of Catholics who would like to be on board a less genitally obsessed church not because they’re looking for a moral free ride but because they want something else from their church.

As for me, I’d like to see some evidence that the right-wingers, who love to talk about the importance of the magisterium, are taking the pope’s magisterial pronouncement seriously. As in: “Gee, maybe we have been too preoccupied with abortion, gay marriage, and contraception. Thanks, Your Holiness, for the paternal correction about the need for the church to re-balance itself as it makes its way in the contemporary world.”

But I’m not holding my breath.

15 Comments

  1. Roberto Oscar Britos

    I just read the 27 pages of the interview and I have the impression of having heard an extraordinary man that cannot be reduced to whether it is leftish or rightist. He speaks like Jesus Christ because he is a true Christian. Also, I admire the simplicity of his language but it shows its enormous culture, his constant search for truth, genuine mercy that should not be understood as approving all behaviors but a search that everyone come back into the fold of Christianity through love. I think that Francis is the greatest thing that could happen to the Catholic Church and Christianity in general

  2. Roberto Oscar Britos

    I just read the 27 pages of the interview and I have the impression of having heard an extraordinary man that cannot be reduced to whether it is leftish or rightist. He speaks like Jesus Christ because he is a true Christian. Also, I admire the simplicity of his language but it shows his enormous culture, his constant search for truth, genuine mercy that should not be understood as approving all behaviors but a search that everyone come back into the fold of Christianity through love. I think that Francis is the greatest thing that could happen to the Catholic Church and Christianity in general

  3. robert erikson

    To conflate the use of “rightwinger” by a bishop from Argentina with all that that implies in that belabored political atmosphere, and by an American liberal seeking to disparage traditional Catholics, is both intellectually dishonest and deliberately tendentious.

  4. Oh no! Mark Silk what are you going to do with this obsessive quote from Pope Francis the very next day after the release of the interview: “Every unborn child, though unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of the Lord, who even before his birth, and then as soon as he was born, experienced the rejection of the world,” He should be chided for obsessing over abortion.
    http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1303991.htm

  5. This bloviator couldn’t have read the entire interview. Rather, he must have relied on the NY Times’s interpretation. Nevertheless, Senator Feinstein would classify him has a journalist, so don’t fret.

  6. Our new Holy Father is a breath of fresh air. It is clearly going to be necessary to listen to him over the weeks, not by the day.
    One day he talks about poverty. That must not be construed as the single relevant issue. Another day he speaks of life issues; he himself says that is not be construed as the single issue.
    Given Roe v Wade, we cannot ban abortion. Period. Congress can’t, an no state can either.
    A true devotee of ‘life’ would be very interested in establishing scientifically, why it is that some women abort their child. Then we can address the matter directly. And we should, for millions of unborn babies have died. I think it is wrong to try to force the woman to ‘see’ the child with ultrasound and so forth, for fear that compounds the tragedy. I assume nearly all aborting mothers know exactly what they are stopping. I assume nearly all have some understanding what motivates them. And I would wager that 99.999999999% of abortions are motivated by fear: fear of poverty ruining the lives of both mother and child; fear of poverty because one cannot afford child care out of the limited pay one gets these days; or fear of losing out on education because child care is either unavailable or too expensive in the educational setting.
    And addressing these very legitimate concerns of the mother is apt to be the quickest way nearly to end abortion.
    That is why the social justice focus of the Holy Father, and an end to abortion, are one and the same program.

  7. “Every unborn child, though unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of the Lord, who even before his birth, and then as soon as he was born, experienced the rejection of the world, – POPE FRANCIS

    Hi Prof, you need to head over to the science department. The popes concern about the unborn has nothing to do with an obsession with sex…its has to do with burning, poisoning and dismembering another innocent, irreplaceable human being. This has nothing to do with genital obsession. It has to do with justice.

    The dogmatic and moral teaching are NOT equivalent. What the pope is saying is that you can’t ask someone to live chastely or truly sacrifice their life for the needy or the unwanted or the unborn without the foundation of Christ’s love. If there is no root then there can be no branch. But branches always proceed from the root. Capisce.

    Doc, you are also naive…1.5 Million abortions a year in the most wealthy country in the entire world and no one aborted just because they didn’t want to be responsible for a kid for the next 18 years. Do you really value the dignity of the mother and child equally?

  8. Amos, how many people are actually reading the 12,000 page article…as the pope said.. “When you express too much, you run the risk of being misunderstood (on purpose)”

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