10 less than perfectly reported points about Pope Francis’ US trip

I direct the readership’s attention to a helpful contribution from Acton Institute (which you should share with as many as possible in order to provoke MS Fishwrap into a case of the vapors).

I won’t share the whole thing. Go there to find all of it.

10 Stories The Media Won’t Tell You About The Pope’s USA Visit
posted on September 25, 2015

1. POPE ADMONISHES OBAMA FOR ATTACKS ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

[…]

2. POPE ADMONISHES CONGRESS FOR POLITICAL GRIDLOCK

[…]

3. POPE CELEBRATES THE AMERICAN DREAM

The waterworks started early for House Speaker John Boehner, when Pope Francis opened his congressional address with a greeting to “the land of the free and home of the brave.”

[…]

4. POPE DENOUNCES GOVERNMENT OVERREACH

In his speech before Congress, the pope [or his speech writer] demonstrated a nuanced understanding of liberty when he suggested that all freedoms are related, and the decline of any of these results in the deterioration of them all.

[…]

5. POPE PRAISES AMERICAN FEDERALISM

Unless you are Catholic, you might have missed Pope Francis’s repeated use of the term “subsidiarity”.

[…]

6. POPE AFFIRMS MERITS OF THE FREE MARKET

No, this is not the great Onion headline about the power of Oreo cookies.

[…]

7. POPE EQUATES PLANNED PARENTHOOD TO STATE-SPONSORED EXECUTION

Some pro-lifers are probably dissatisfied with Pope Francis’s comments about the sacredness of life during the congressional address. Although he did affirm his staunch pro-life position when he exhorted Americans to “protect and defend life at every stage of its development,” he immediately shifted the focus to capital punishment. Note that Pope Francis effectively equated abortion to state-sponsored execution, which is covert way to reaffirm his pro-life views.. If there is any question as to his position on abortion, just read his remarks to the U.S. bishops yesterday.

8. POPE ENCOURAGES OBAMACARE OPPONENTS

Pope Francis visited the Little Sisters of the Poor, demonstrating his solidarity with one of the foremost opponents of Obamacare’s U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate that all employers buy contraception for employees, even those that work as abortifacients.

9. POPE CALLS FOR HONEST DEBATE ON CLIMATE CHANGE

[…]

10. POPE LAMENTS REDEFINITION OF MARRIAGE

Pope Francis concluded his congressional address by grieving the loss of traditional family values. In no uncertain terms he declared that human flourishing would be diminished because of the redefinition of the family: “Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.”

Pope Francis’s pastoral sensibility and gentle demeanor continue to make him one of the most popular figures in the world. It ought to be the hope of many Christians and conservatives that this popularity encourages his admirers—many of whom are leftists or openly skeptical of religion—to reexamine the moral foundations of the man for whom they have such regard. I think they might find a new appreciation for traditional, Christian orthodoxy.

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57 Responses to 10 less than perfectly reported points about Pope Francis’ US trip

  1. Transportsjoie says:

    Thank you, Father, for this encouraging post.

  2. Dennis Martin says:

    Equating abortion to state-sponsored execution is not a good thing. Semester-in, semester-out, I try to convince college students that equating the killing of the innocent with the killing of the guilty is apples and oranges.

    I am all for all efforts to put the best construction possible on the Holy Father’s visit and the other 9 points have merit. But this one was a stretch too far.

  3. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    “It ought to be the hope of many Christians and conservatives that this popularity encourages his admirers—many of whom are leftists or openly skeptical of religion—to reexamine the moral foundations of the man for whom they have such regard. I think they might find a new appreciation for traditional, Christian orthodoxy.” I fear they will delight to find that the Church (hierarchy) is (apparently) replete with (Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops – some specially personally invited to the Synod – not to mention Priests and (the ‘leaders’ of) those in Religious orders) more or less openly promoting abortion and same-sex activity (and ‘marriage’ and adoption) without formal ‘consequences’ or even the sort of public rebuke dealt out to ‘the rigid’, ‘Pharisaical’ (etc.), and make (I hope gravely, but it sadly seems understandably, mistaken) assumptions about “the moral foundations of the man for whom they have such regard.”

    And I quite agree with Dennis Martin – false moral equivalences should be eliminated not (however unintentionally) given opportunities to flourish.

  4. Tony Phillips says:

    Ditto to Dennis. There’s a huge difference between killing an innocent baby and executing a convicted criminal. Not only does culpability differ, but who’s doing the killing (individual versus government) differs as well.

  5. AnnTherese says:

    Killing of any human being is wrong. Period. We are called to respect life from womb to tomb. Execution may be legal in some places, but that doesn’t make it any more morally acceptable than abortion. Killing a criminal proves we do not have faith in God who creates us, loves us, and can redeem us. It proves we lack hope.

  6. Dennis Martin says:

    I should add that I could imagine that the intent in pointing out the juxtaposition of abortion and death penalty was to suggest that progressives, for whom abolition of the death penalty is a holy grail, might be brought up short if they realized the pope juxtaposed it to abortion and perhaps, just perhaps, begin to rethink their insouciance regarding abortion.

    And indeed we may and must always hope.

    But the very fact that progressives are so invested in opposition to the death penalty and that they refuse to recognize the difference between guilty and innocent life, makes me wonder if the juxtaposition (with much greater time spent on death penalty and abortion only alluded to) might not have an effect opposite the intended effect: to affirm progressives in the righteousness of the cause of abolishing capital punishment while ignoring the indirect reference to abortion.

    To be effective, it seems to me, the speechwriter(s) would have needed to point out the non-equivalency and accent the greater moral gravity of abortion. But to do that would have been to “harp” on abortion, something the pope has told us we should stop doing.

    So I would call this a sadly missed opportunity.

  7. Kathleen10 says:

    I am reminded of that song from the 70’s by, I think, by Deniece Williams, “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late”.
    In a barrage of monologues for progressive topics, I guess one could slip in a few orthodox positions without much problem. These comments will slip by like water in a stream, largely unnoticed.

  8. gatormom says:

    Oh dear! So Dennis Martin actually has a clear and lucid and TRUE thought. He puts it forth in a calm and reasonable manner. Within two posts you watch him try and muddle his own thoughts in order to align himself with a false notion. I am watching and reading and listening to Catholics worldwide try to completely incapacitate their own intellectual honesty in order to I don’t know. I assume in order to desperately hold on to their Catholic faith. But this is beginning to feel like Stockholm Syndrome. Many Saints of the past have upheld what was TRUE and good, even opposing Popes without losing their faith. What I have been reading in Father Z’s blog the last couple days disturbs me more than anything the Pope said to us in his visit. And the Pope’s speech to Congress scared me badly. Our shepherds have become wolves and who wants to confront that I suppose? This is bad.

  9. Benedict Joseph says:

    Are we grasping for straws?
    I should be struck with awe that the Pope spoke like a Roman Catholic once and a while?
    I go with Kathleen10 on this one. Gatormon got it down!
    I can’t cope.

  10. cajuncath says:

    With all due respect, Fr. Z – no. And with all due respect, gatormom – yes.

    We need to stop desperately trying to lunge at whatever scraps of Catholic orthodoxy are thrown our way, and to stop artistically contorting and interpolating any statement we can into an endorsement of Catholic truth. Instead, we must recognize the reality that stares us in the face. We have a right to expect each statement and act of each supreme pontiff to be in line with 100% traditional Catholicism. And to avoid elevating questionable political ideas into quasi-doctrinal obsessions.

    The incomprehensible, shocking statements of Pope Francis are numerous. And the adoring crowds are not fawning over his vivid championing of Catholic truth. In fact, almost the opposite.

    Please, let’s stop trying to blame the media or the ‘liberals’ for what the Holy See is doing right before our eyes.

  11. Dennis Martin says:

    Dear Gatormom.

    As Catholics, we are required to put the best construction possible on what other people say or write. The ten points were attempting to do that. I pointed out a problem with one of the ten and let the others stand.

    Out of Christian charity, I thought it important to put the best construction I could on the one point with which I took issue. My second comment merely had to do with the possible intent of the speechwriter, granting possible good intentions but then stating that, despite good intentions, the juxtaposition failed to achieve its intentions.

    My second comment conforms with the first in its conclusion. It modifies the first comment slightly. You declare the second muddled.

    Why must you put the worst construal you can on my second comment? Am I to infer that anything other than complete denunciation of the speechwriter(s) on this one of ten points will not satisfy you?

    Is it possible that nuance/qualification is not always the same as muddling?

  12. Dennis Martin says:

    Feeling betrayed may be a legitimate response to actual betrayal. But anger and bitterness at having been betrayed can lead to the hell in which the Dwarfs find themselves in C. S. Lewis’s Narnia story, The Last Battle. Having been betrayed, they refuse to trust anyone, refuse to see any good in anything. They end up in the middle of a blue-sky verdant Paradise, insisting that they are imprisoned in a dark stable of death. No one can, not any of the saints in “paradise,” as described by Lewis, not even Aslan himself, can convince them otherwise.

    Beware the leaven of the Fishwrappers. We who are dismayed at what we are convinced is imprudence on the part of the pope, dare not let ourselves become bitter Fishwrappers of the Right. For all the faults and criticisms that may justly be made of the various speeches and talks of this papal visit, we are not permitted by the love of Christ to ignore whatever shafts of light may also have been emitted. The Acton Institute piece pointed out ten. I took issue with one of the ten and then clarified slightly my critique, precisely because it is a sin to close one’s heart to good in those to whom one offers fraternal correction.

    In criticizing what we believe to be imprudent we must abstain from dismissing the person or the office of the imprudent one, from attributing motives about which we cannot have knowledge, of thinking the worst rather than the best even as we offer criticism.

    To play the Fishwrap game with Francis is just as wrong for us as it is for the Fishwrap to do it with Benedict or John Paul. It leads to a hell of our own making. It also permits the Fishwrappers to jump up and down with glee and shout, “see, see, you are doing exactly what you got mad at us for doing for the past 35 years under John Paul and Benedict.”

    And finally, look at how the leaven of the Fishwrap infects us so as to turn us against each other–one minute we praise another of us for lucid and accurate thinking, the next minute the same person is muddled.

    This will not end well.

    .

  13. SKAY says:

    I agree with your comment Benedict-Joseph and the comments of those you mentioned.

    The activists have admitted that the little girl running (spontaneously) up to the Pope with a letter about immigration was actually planned for at least a year by them. That was about politics and the facade of the left.

  14. zama202 says:

    After this weeks papal visit I have decided to give a nice sized donation to the Fraternity of St. Peter. Catholic teaching comes through loud and clear in their monthly newsletter.
    Charles

  15. frjim4321 says:

    Every faction is spinning Francis in order to gain credibility for its own position. In fact, Francis was very careful not to throw out any red meat. He said just enough to challenge everyone and not quite enough to justify anyone. Brilliant!

  16. benedetta says:

    The poor factioning secular, antiCatholic media, the empowered American elites and their followers, organizers and actors wherever situated — they cannot help their incomprehension I am afraid. They are locked into the darkness of the cemented secular dogma of the last fifty years and really cannot see the forest for the trees, and even the trees they do not capture accurately. They speak one language only, fighting factioning politics, wealthy American style, and know not the language of the heart that God has inscribed in His own hand. Pray for them.

  17. frjim4321 says:

    “The poor factioning secular, antiCatholic media, the empowered American elites and their followers, organizers and actors wherever situated — they cannot help their incomprehension I am afraid.” – Benedetta

    That’s why George Weigel was the primary talking head for MSNBC.

  18. benedetta says:

    ^ Speak for yourself, frjim4321, and, btw, it’s “benedetta”, not “Benedetta” as in “Frjim4321”. But I digress down a rabbit holification. Who cares? What, did you set that up, Weigel at MSNBC? So what? Everybody had a “good Catholic” on for the “Papal Visit Coverage”. They want the big advertising bucks, so, they want Catholics to actually watch. And yet. Most of the factionizing secular elites are doing the usual, and can’t break out of it, as usual, and have done and will continue to do. Ring me up when they hire Weigel for a full time show! LOL

  19. benedetta says:

    N.B.: Secular media coverage of the Papal visit to Cuba, the U.S., Congress, the U.N., homeless human beings, imprisoned human beings, student human beings, and, most importantly, and it seemed most importantly to him, his visitation with the World Meeting of Families (much coverage there? Hmm) given the Holy Father’s very high popularity ratings among personalities of late, does not constitute a forbearance from or wholesale conversion from the lockstep anti Catholicism which is the paradigm and status quo. They aren’t going to look a media gift horse in the mouth and not cover! However, Acton is not msm — LOL — are Catholic media now by frjim4321’s calculations somehow barred from taking a serious look at what the Holy Father said? That would be way weird. But then it would not be a huge surprise given where we have been and where we appear to be going. Hey, they’ve cashed in, but did they listen? Where are their hearts? Time will tell. The proof is in the pudding. Meanwhile I think Acton has done a service. We need to note the particular words the Holy Father said at all of the venues, and go out and personally proclaim it by our actions and with our life, from our hearts. No one will be paid for this. Let’s do it before the ink is dry on the msm’s autopsies of the Holy Father’s pastoral visitation to us as shepherd and spiritual father. It’s not hard to look at what he really did say, pray on it, and live it. For that, we needn’t watch MSNBC at all.

  20. benedetta says:

    frjim4321 is feeling his oats today — he knows Fr. Z is on a looonnnggg flight back from Tokyo, and will be crossing through time zones, thus, not moderating, so! That’s ok. We can rabbit hole moderate ourselves! Fun.

  21. frjim4321 says:

    Actually, no, I admire our esteemed host and I would not take advantage of his temporary absence.

  22. benedetta says:

    Oh, ok, My Bad frjim4321. You rule. However, I don’t think very many are as ready as you are to now canonize The Media and The Ruling Elites of our country. But hey, there’s time, right? That’s why I say, pray for them. They lack the basic formation that a great many of us had, the benefits of growing up in a Catholic home, with Catholic families, and they recognize not the beautiful and incredible difference that makes in one’s life, daily life, in the details, and in salvation. I hope they make good use of the time that they have. The MSNBC had the Weigel on? Awesome! They like Pope Francis! Awesome! Let’s have a permanent Weigel show!! We can do this!

  23. benedetta says:

    * (sotto voce) This has been A Special Papal Visit Rabbit Hole Moment with FrJim,4321. We now return to our regularly scheduled, Pre-Synodal Coverage.

    Getting back to the 10 missed points the media rejected/forgot/didn’t dawn on them — I’m curious what other ones Fr. Z’s readership has noticed? What else did they not really get even with full text and moment to moment televised coverage with audio from this whirlwind week? Offhand my rough count comes out to a lot more than just 10. I guess Acton prioritized and some, I’m assuming they had to cut a lot to make a readable blog post. On the upside, this is what full texts and papal visits are for — it’s a whirlwind, but it’s not over when the Holy Father returns to il Vaticano. There is a lot for us to consider and act on. I would ask of those who watched/listened a question once asked of me after an edifying retreat I experienced some years ago: What can we put into practice, right away, after this experience, this encounter of presence of our shepherd? Even something that seems minor to others but is inspired by the Credo voiced by this visit together.

  24. eymard says:

    One of the more spirited discussions on this site. I feel the wrenching that this Pontificate is having. Faithful, orthodox Catholics have been set against each other, and it is unnerving. One can make the Acton-style attempt to search out eternal truths in this past week of speeches, and find some such. But what lingers, what gnaws, is the support for the 2030 Agenda (aka Agenda 21 writ larger), signaled yesterday in a defense of “globalization” of perhaps a kindler gentler implementation. But to me “globalization” is a verb, and I cannot see how hitching to this star of promised utopia aligns with Magisterial teaching. And gnawing also is Archbishop Cordileone’s lack of invitation to the synod, while Danneels and his cohort will be ringside. And other things. Unnerving, as I said.

  25. Gratias says:

    “It is all for the best” would say Dr. Pangloss in the Voltaire parody Candide. This article is Panglossian. I understand trying to find optimism, but I heard the speech to Congress and drew the opposite conclusions, as did all the liberal press and the Democratic Party. Maybe it is all for the best to have a highly popular Pope; all my agnostic, Jewish and Protestant friends never fail to congratulate me these days. Sorry, but I am pessimistic about the harvest that Pope Francis brought in from this trip.

  26. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Acton notes that this is by Peter Johnson, originally posted at The Federalist, where he is described as “an external relations officer for the Acton Institute.”

    With his point 6, it is interesting to juxtapose his 22 June post there on Laudato sí, “Pope Francis’s Incoherent Economics”.

    His point 9 begins with “Pope Francis called for open ‘dialogue’ 12 times during his congressional address” and ends with the quotation (from Laudato sí, 14) “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.” But, if we turn to Laudato sí 23-26, we see “its human roots”, include, for example, the assertion that “human causes […] produce or aggravate” a supposed “disturbing warming of the climatic system.” This would seem to be a matter of foreclosing discussion and precluding truly “open ‘dialogue’ “.

    Since Mr. Johnson’s points 2-7 and 9-10 all derive from the Congressional address, I would encourage, in the pursuit of putting the best construction possible on what other people say or write in the course of open dialogue, the consideration of this critique of it:

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/09/24/pope-francis-slams-capitalism-death-penalty-immigration-law-no-real-mention-abortion-gay-marriage/

  27. Dennis Martin says:

    Although I rely on Breitbart as one important source, some of their coverage of the Pope’s visit has been awful, simply awful. Thomas Williams’s articles have been outstanding but Ben Shapiro’s reporting on the pope’s visit has been awful. The one linked to is by Shapiro and it was one of the very first reports of the congressional address. I read it and I believed it. (having not heard or read the address itself) . . . until other people (like Williams) pointed out things that Shapiro had overlooked. In other words, Williams reported along the same lines as the Acton/Johnson piece Fr. Z has offered us here and, in the process, showed Shapiro to have put the worst possible construction on what the Holy Father said.

  28. We heard the same words from Pope Francis in Philadelphia as we heard in Cuba, in Brazil, in Rome, wherever he goes. It’s neither here nor there, but very pondering and very pausing as to their meaning. The words sound . . . vague, and that’s probably his allure. People are making the Pope a blank canvas to write whatever religious “truths” they want on him.

    In today’s consistently dumbed down culture, the words of a pope must be spoken with clarity and strength. People just aren’t getting it anymore unless you jingle your car keys in front of their face as you’re making the point. Pope Francis’ super-secret-coded subliminal references to pro-life messages, to define the God-instituted sacredness of marriage as between one man and one woman, and to defend Catholic institutions from the UNaffordable Could-Care-Less Act are all simply just going to continue falling on deaf ears.

  29. gatormom says:

    As the Holy Father did deign to speak to our Congress in English couldn’t we just CONSTRUCT the address all by ourselves? Do we now need a PHD in order to understand what the Pope says and then CONSTRUCT it so that it could possibly be Catholic? This is really just too weird.

  30. benedetta says:

    I do not think it worthwhile or helpful to discuss optimism or pessimism in the abstract. About the world, be realistic. About the Church, there is an optimism founded upon the Resurrection, not of this world, and about the gates of hell.

    This comes to mind:
    http://pewsitter.com/view_news_id_209507.php

    I do not think it is for us to demand “results” from the Holy Father and his concrete actions. The ruler of this world is not who we are following, so, it is of little use to measure things according to those standards. In some ways we are bound to “fail” and yet we must act nonetheless, work as if everything depended upon it. What is the purpose of the optimism or the pessimism, anyway. I think both attitudes can be equally put to the service at hand. I will say that for me anyway the notion of speaking the truth in love, in caritas, has taken on a new meaning based on my observations of the Holy Father’s visit this week. The truth as defined in defense from virulent, violent, menacing secularism as an interrogation technique or a way to begin a conversation, dialogue, or debate is not really a very adequate, efficient, or encouraging evangelization tool. Joy in the truth however is an excellent way. One could call it joy of the Gospel and one could just as well call it joy of the veritas. As to this, I personally have optimism; call it hope, without denying the portents, the reality of the difficulties, some incredibly harsh which are looming.

    Hæc locutus sum vobis, ut in me pacem habeatis. In mundo pressuram habebitis: sed confidite, ego vici mundum.

  31. Auggie says:

    I’m still ruminating over the Pope’s mentioning of The Seven Storey Mountain. Of all Merton’s books, it is the most conservative/traditional. Apparently people are now buying the book. Presumably some will read it and have a vision of the beauty and truth of the Church.

  32. ChrisRawlings says:

    I was reading Cardinal Sarah’s wonderful new book, God or Nothing, to my daughter this afternoon and I came across this:

    “[The Church] can no longer be content with ephemeral enthusiasm that lasts for the duration of major meetings or liturgical gatherings. We cannot do long without practical reflection on subjectivism on the root of most contemporary errors. What good is it to know that the pope’s Twitter account is followed by thousands if people do not change their lives concretely? What good is it to compile amazing statistics about the crowds that throng to see the popes if we are not sure that their conversions are real and deep and if we do not know whether Jesus and his Gospel are the reference point and guide of our faithful?”

    How about that?

  33. Charivari Rob says:

    what other points has the readership noticed that haven’t been covered?

    It seems to me that as a result of the Papal visit, there was very little coverage of the substance of the Synod – certainly not as much as last year’s synod.

    Also, as soon as I have some free time (I have some penciled in for March 2017), I want to compare images of other State visits that included addresses to Congress. I’m assuming it’s protocol for the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate (the VPOTUS, not the President pro-tem of the Senate) to have the same seats as they would for the State of the Union speech, but… it’s a little weird – watching a Pope speak (in something of a preaching situation (preaching very diplomatically, anyway)) and seeing a couple of people who are part of the body being spoken to not only separating themselves (a bit) from being spoken too (by being behind the Pope), but seating themselves above the Pope.

  34. Peter Stuart says:

    10. POPE LAMENTS REDEFINITION OF MARRIAGE

    So much that unrepentant militant gay SSM-marriage activist Mo Rocca was chosen to read the holy word of God at the NYC Papal Mass.

    Meanwhile, out here in a land of different delusions, some of us struggling (many with ever increasing difficulty) to be faithful despite bearing the cross of same-sex attraction get the back of the hierarchy’s hand when it comes to “pastoral” ministry. My diocese, in a large US metropolis, refuses to offer the Courage apostolate but has no apparent objection to New Ways Ministry labeling our Cathedral as a gay-friendly parish.

    Media and organizations fall over one another to gush at the Pope and get laurels. Those of us who daily are pulled under by the sexual Zeitgeist suffer in obscurity; some of us eventually for eternity.

  35. TheDude05 says:

    I would hesitate to say that the death penalty is immoral since St. Thomas Aquinas proved that it can be moral and even the Catechism states that it can be moral. I oppose it due to current exonerations using DNA evidence showing people being wrongly convicted, usually because some witness is offered a plea deal. I also oppose it because with this government, that seemingly feeds on the illusions of the devil, cannot be trusted with this form of justice. I agree that equating abortion with capital punishment is false at face value because one is murder the other is justice. To say they are equal gives credence of justice to abortion which means that the baby is guilty of something and the mother is an innocent party. To say this would be to agree with the pro abortion argument that the woman has no responsibility to the life growing within her, that it is in fact an unwanted parasite.

  36. Manducat in the hat says:

    Looks like trying to squeeze blood from a turnip.

    That bit about “if you have any doubt as to his pro-life position.” He’s not a politician, he’s the vicar of Christ. I don’t doubt his pro-life position, I doubt his ability or intestinal fortitude to convey the message to others in a way which either inspires contrition.

  37. MikeM says:

    I have grave concerns about some of Pope Francis’ ideas and intentions, but his visit to the US was good. It was good for the country and good for the Church. His political addresses in DC were tame to all parties… They had some good points, and not much that was bad. Maybe not the most inspired talks ever, but basically acceptable. His address after meeting with the homeless was a success. I know a lot of non-Catholics who work with the homeless and several were very moved by it. One of my local homeless people told me about how much hearing it meant to him before giving me a hug. It made a positive impact. His time in New York was reasonably well spent. And this weekend… Well, I’m a Philadelphian and I have never seen anything like what I saw in this city this weekend, and it was nearly everything I’ve ever wanted from our Church. People across the city joined together in the Lord’s Prayer. People from all over town and around the globe gathered around screens all around Center City, the parable of the Prodigal’s Son blasted loud from speakers everywhere. Non-Catholic passers-by were drawn in to hear the Gospel and the truth about marriage, sexuality and the value of every human life. Philadelphians who had never much considered the Church crowded their way in with people from dozens of countries, tearing up at the beauty of God’s Grace and of family life. And when Pope Francis spoke about it, it clearly touched a lot of people. Plus, there were two tastefully celebrated masses and a speech at city hall that promoted a social vision that was actually fairly conservative.

    When the Pope acts, there can be a lot at stake, and we have to be vigilant to do our part to keep the Church and our societies on track. It’s not a game, and sometimes we have to fight hard and be fierce. But, calling out Pope Francis when he is wrong and saying so when we wish that he’d do better doesn’t have to come at the expense of appreciating it when he does well. That’s not “grasping for straws,” as Benedict Joseph seems to see it. It’s calling a spade a spade and a diamond a diamond. From this Pope, as from any other Church leader, I’ll happily celebrate what’s good, I’ll accept what’s acceptable, and I’ll do whatever I can to resist what’s bad. On this trip, some things were great, and others just scraped by as OK, but I think that we should consider that a win.

  38. Giuseppe says:

    I thought the Masses (and the masses at the Masses) in general were reverent, and I loved the eucharistic prayer in Latin.

  39. organistjason says:

    I was feeling somewhat optimistic on his comments from at St. Charles Borrmeo Seminary. Past tense. One particular comment set off “alarm bells”. I thought maybe we had turned a corner. Maybe the Bishop of Rome would affirm Church Teaching and end this senseless debate pre-synod part Deux. The comment 1) “A Christianity which “does” little in practice, while incessantly “explaining” its teachings, is dangerously unbalanced. I would even say that it is stuck in a vicious circle.” While “incessantly explaining it’s teachings”. Excuse me? So many Catholics, tend to be “Cafeteria Catholics”. Picking and choosing what to believe or what not to believe. Less then half of “Catholics” in the U.S. have a firm grasp of Church teaching (From the Catechism to what they may or may not have learned at “Catholic” School). So much more could be said about that comment from a learned Theologian. I hope someone steps up and says something.

  40. gatormom says:

    I am no learned Theologian but I can read this article from The Chronicle of Philanthropy that states the following: About 75 percent of people who frequently attend religious services gave to congregations, and 60 percent gave to religious charities or nonreligious ones. By comparison, fewer than half of people who said they didn’t attend faith services regularly supported any charity, even a even secular one. Here is the link to the article: https://philanthropy.com/article/Religious-Americans-Give-More/153973. The Christians that I know are generous and loving. Shocking. It’s probably just by chance but the atheists I know do many bad things to many people.

  41. Mr. Graves says:

    Wonderful comments, all. One question: How does putting the best possible spin on intentionally vague and distort-able comments become a duty incumbent on faithful Catholics? I’m not being the rhetorical; truly, how does this help either Catholics or non-believers? If my kid gets his lunch money stolen by the same bully every day, do I tell him to assume good will every time he sees the bully? Naïveté is not the new black.

    Don’t get me wrong and think I’m excusing pope-bashing. But defending the indefensible conduct of another is *not* charity! Especially when that other is in position to doctrinally harm so many. One commenter, I forget which site, said that when his progressive acquaintances asked gleefully what he thought of Pope Francis, he grinned and said, “I try not to.”

    On a completely separate note, Manducat in the hat –> Best. Moniker. Ever.

  42. Dennis Martin says:

    “One question: How does putting the best possible spin on intentionally vague and distort-able comments become a duty incumbent on faithful Catholics? I’m not being the rhetorical; truly, how does this help either Catholics or non-believers? If my kid gets his lunch money stolen by the same bully every day, do I tell him to assume good will every time he sees the bully? Naïveté is not the new black.”
    Straw men. You used the word “spin.” I used the word “construction” and construal.

    Putting the best possible construction means exactly that. Best possible. Not falsifying what was said but interpreting by giving benefit of doubt. If there’s no doubt that someone said something false or evil, then one names it false or evil. But rarely is there no doubt. Where there is no doubt, then say so.

    Putting a false construction on what someone says is not a possible construction. But falsely labeling something, refusing to consider possible positive aspects of something, is dishonest. The ten points on which this thread is based were asking people to consider possible positive aspects of the pope’s visit. To assume that next to nothing nothing positive can be seen in the pope’s visit is, on the surface, an extreme construal. Yet that is the default position for far too many “traditional Catholics.”

    We cannot let our justified sense of betrayal turn us into Dwarfs who can seldom if not never see anything good in this papacy.

    Dshonesty, whether toward the positive or the negative, is just that: dishonesty. And dishonesty is always wrong. And employing straw man arguments is not honest.
    We are not obligated to be naive or uncritical. We are obligated not to distort negatively out of bitterness, prejudice, preconceptions. We are obligated not to think the worst of someone. We are obligated to think accurately, honestly, fairly.

  43. cwillia1 says:

    When Pope Francis equates planned parenthood with state-sponsored execution, I am dismayed. But I don’t think the Pope is talking to me. He seems to want to engage in some kind of dialog with the secularist ruling elites of Western society. When someone engages in this kind of dialog he looks for common ground, a starting point from which he hopes to move his opponents by leveraging internal contradictions in their position. It is a kind of progress to get these secularists to admit that abortion is at least as bad as executing criminals. This reminds me of what St. Paul tried to do on Mars Hill. I don’t think St. Paul had much success but maybe Pope Francis can do better.

  44. Scott W. says:

    Killing of any human being is wrong. Period.

    Depends on what you mean by wrong. If you mean intrinsically wrong (which seems to be suggested by the “Period”, then this is incorrect. From the CCC:

    2267 Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

    If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

    Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

    As Dennis said, false moral equivalences are not good. All kinds of error can fester in them.

  45. DonL says:

    “Killing of any human being is wrong. Period”

    Explain that David and Goliath thing to me again…..

  46. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Dennis Martin,

    Thanks for responding, and on a generalized level! I haven’t seen anything. Thanks to a Sandro Magister link to this:

    http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/travels/2015/outside/documents/papa-francesco-cuba-usa-onu-2015.html

    I have been able to read full texts (I suppose barring spontaneous departures from the text), though I haven’t caught up with all, yet. I’ve tended to try to start with full texts, as who knows what may or may not be accented or omitted in reporting or commentary. In the Congressional address case, I read it before seeing Ben Shapiro’s analysis, and found him saying interesting and prima facie cogent things about details that had struck me as questionable but which I had not yet ‘done my homework on’. It does not seem to me “Shapiro […] put the worst possible construction on what the Holy Father said” but made the attempt “to think accurately, honestly, fairly” (with whatever warmth of expression, exasperation, etc., and of course selectively, but without the result being “awful”). I am grateful for your comments on “possible construction” versus “false construction” in this case. Perhaps I am merely putting the ‘best possible construction’ on Mr. Shapiro’s analysis (!).

    I’d welcome any further elaboration about “some of their coverage of the Pope’s visit has been awful, simply awful” as I have seen things not only by Dr. Williams but by Dr. Susan Barry and Austin Ruse there that did not seem “simply awful”, either.

    I think a detailed discussion of various of Mr. Shapiro’s points would be interesting and probably benefit my understanding, but I don’t know if it is or is not something to attempt here in the combox (however ‘post’-length too many of my comments already tend to be!).

  47. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    MikeM,

    Nice to get this sort of impression when I haven’t seen anything (but a couple still photos): thanks!

    TheDude05,

    Very good on the general prudential situation (mistaken life sentences are of course also irreversible as to years spent wrongly imprisoned but the former prisoner is still ‘in this life’), and as to the observation that “this government […] cannot be trusted with this form of justice”!

    I have the impression that there are lots of dodgy things about “DNA evidence” as it is often pursued and applied (which can presumably lead to wrongful conviction – and execution!).

  48. pannw says:

    I have this dream that the Holy Father is really being wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove, even though right now, only the gentleness is coming through. I would like to believe that is part of the serpentine strategy. I close my eyes and imagine the upcoming synod…

    Consider the prelates from these USofA while Archbishop Cordileone is ‘snubbed’. That can’t be a good sign for orthodoxy, right? All the while, the Pope has been seen as being so ‘reasonable’ and ‘pastoral’ and ‘kind and gentle’, willing to ‘dialogue’…See, he’s clearly open to debate. The Left is confident, they are coming out with more and more heterodoxy, given an inch they see taking a mile… The Holy Father now sees clearly the ‘sides’. He sits and listens, because, you know, he’s ‘reasonable’ and ‘open’…then BAM!

    Peter stands up in the midst of the successors of the Apostles and upholds Church Teaching, he points to the dissidents and declares them heretics and excommunicated along with all the ‘unfaithful’ who also reject the Truth of Church Teaching.

    A good dream…

    It could happen; I mean, this is the man who as Archbishop of Buenos Aires called so called same sex marriage a plan of the father of lies to destroy God’s plan for the family. He just said on the plane trip back that even government workers have the right to conscientious objection…that women will NEVER be priests…a man who has such devotion to the Holy Mother…

    Pray for him, Mary. And pray for Peter Stuart. Amen.

    Hold tight to the Truth, Peter Stuart. No matter what happens, you know the Truth. Do not be led astray by false prophets or wolves in shepherds clothing. Jesus warned us about them. May God bless you and strengthen you.

    No matter what, the important thing is Jesus, Truly Present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Holy Eucharist. I can not receive Him without the Church, so stormy water and all, here I’ll stay. As my priest says, “Eyes on Jesus!”

    Deo gratias.

  49. Mr. Graves says:

    Putting the best possible “construction” on the words of your neighbor, who is having a bad day and may be unusually short-tempered but whom you know to be normally kind, is a far different thing than burying your head in the sand when the leader of a faith (or a diocese or a parish) gives scandal in word and action day after day after day. It is not accurate, fair, or honest to 1) infer everyone who is alarmed at what this pope does/says is a Lewisian dwarf (though kudos on the reference); or 2) call metaphorical speaking a logical fallacy. One might assume that highlighting concerns about honesty implied that the speaker being addressed had been less than honest, which would certainly be to not be to construe in the most favorable way possible.

    The Holy Father, on this occasion as on so many others, put ammunition in the hands of the progressives and even, I’m sorry to say, of conservative critics, who use his failure to clearly, unambiguously defend the teachings of the Church to support their anti-Church agendas. Two years into this papacy, the media “spin” on his words can no longer be a surprise, yet he continues to equivocate. Is it a ploy to draw out the Church’s detractors and get them on record? Is he forcing people to take sides? IDK. God grant that there is intentional methodology to this seeming madness. Meanwhile, people of goodwill must watch and pray — themselves being wise as serpents, innocent as doves.

  50. Kathleen10 says:

    I am grateful for all the good commentary here and in other places. It is helpful to consider various reactions to our situation.
    Unfortunately for me it always comes down to looking like a duck. To me there have been too many things said and done, which indicate something unnerving, but what it is exactly, I don’t know. There is a level of consistent inconsistency, which keeps pinning down what we have virtually impossible. It is neither this way, nor is it that. It is some of this and some of that, on a very regular basis.
    I would say, it is predominantly that. The “that”, is what is NOT said, the left out bits that seem to me to be the elephant the size of the blood moon. That our Holy Father, our Holy Father for crying out loud, is not mentioning again and again and again, ISIS and the real genocide that is going on against HIS people, is something I find stunning, really frightening. I don’t know if these poor, suffering Christians have access to social media, but if they do, and they were awaiting real help in the form of the leader of their faith pounding home the point to the West that they are in desperate need and we must do something about ISIS, it is confounding and heartbreaking to consider their plight was barely mentioned. Their passing mention has apparently not moved Obama’s heart. It did not translate into those always hoped for responses by non-Catholics in this case. The Chaldean Christians (Aramaic speakers) who are being held in California, undergoing an unusual level of scrutiny before releasing them onto the streets of America) are apparently being deported back to Iraq. We have “sanctuary cities” (soon to be called violent hell-holes) where unchecked immigrants are housed, fed, and released into society, but we cannot make room for a small group of Chaldean Christians. What we are told we MUST do is “make room for immigrants”, which I have no doubt our Bishops are acting on as I type this. In this they are always busy little bees. As an American, I think this is absolute cultural insanity, but that’s another topic.
    So for me it is what is said, what is NOT said, and what has been done, that is the problem.
    I simply add Words + Unsaid Words to Actions at Synods and this = Big Problem.

    I see the perpetually hopeful, and it would be wonderful if they were right. If at the Synod, having all the little heretics assembled, the Holy Father jumps out in a Superman cape and denounces the heretics and sends them fleeing from the room with the words of exorcism, nobody will be happier than I.

  51. revueltos67 says:

    Speaking of great Onion headlines…

    “Horrified Pope Calls Philadelphia Humanity’s Greatest Sin Against God”

    http://www.theonion.com/article/horrified-pope-calls-philadelphia-humanitys-greate-51398

  52. taffymycat says:

    kahtleen10-i also find it shocking that christian massacres, isis, et al, are ignored by the Pope.what hope does that give those poor vulnerable sufferers who would have been filled with joy if the pope had at least acknowledged their brutal trials and deaths? why the pope could not say a word on that is disturbing as his avoidance of abortion/selling baby parts. i would like a pope who rightly chastises, uses his God given authority as moral spiritual head of this earth, to call out evil, to support weak and helpless for whom he seems to have so much feeling as long as they are illegals but not so much sympathy if they are Chaldeans being exterminated or christian babies being beheaded. he’s a mystery…but he wont be pope forever.

  53. Sonshine135 says:

    Construction? Honestly folks, the first piece of Public Speaking 101 is know your audience. While I am appreciative that many are giving the Holy Father the benefit of the doubt as it were, many are not. The reason being that generalized and vague remarks can be turned into whatever golden calf a particular person or group wants it to be. You have Catholics in this country that get their catechisis from CNN and the back of a Cracker Jack box. The last thing you need to be is vague. I think the Pope made veiled references to some of the pressing issues like his visit to The Little Sisters of the Poor, but how much more impact would a clear statement about the administration’s continued litigation have been? How much more impact would a clear statement on the carving and dissection of the unborn have been? How much more impact would a clear statement on the dangers of promoting and enshrining homosexual marriage have been? My overall impression was that the Pope’s visit, while encouraging to the faithful, had a large amount of missed opportunities. The Cafeteria Catholics were emboldened, and those of us of more traditional bend are left again trying to mold and interpret the current Pontiff’s words into God’s likeness and image. In short, have no idea what was really meant, but we hope our best guess is the right one.

  54. cl00bie says:

    2. POPE ADMONISHES CONGRESS FOR POLITICAL GRIDLOCK

    Holy Father, in these United States, “gridlock” is how it’s designed to work.

  55. Pnkn says:

    “Francis was very careful not to throw out any red meat. He said just enough to challenge everyone and not quite enough to justify anyone. Brilliant!”

    If that is true, this would be an abdication of Christian witness and pastoral leadership.

  56. benedictgal says:

    Maybe Francis should have had a long visit with Benedict before coming to the US. Benedict was certainly clear and insightful when he was here. There was no need for endless interpretation. His words were to the point.

  57. benedetta says:

    I was thinking a bit today on the commenter above who said that they preferred “chastising popes” and eventually wound up with this:

    http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Pope:-a-good-father-knows-how-to-chastise-without-belittling,-knows-how-to-forgive-and-tirelessly-protect-33372.html