The Pope’s airplane comments and the left’s obsession

The slithery Marco Politi of La Repubblica has been saying for months that the Holy Father has been committing public gaffs, as in his comments at Regensburg when he angered Muslims.  Now Politi is fixated on the Pope’s remarks on the airplane about the Catholic pro-abortion politicians in Mexico and their "excommunication".  

The politicians in Mexico did not incur the excommunication foreseen in Canon Law for those who procure abortions.  However, by their decriminalization of abortion in the district around Mexico City they exclude themselves from Holy Communion, a reality emphasized by the Cardinal Archbishop.  Pope Benedict gave verbal support for the Mexican bishops.

Keep in mind that a chat with the press is not ever going to be an instrument of promulgation of laws or official interpretations of laws, or decrees or censures or anything else.  It was a gesture of courtesy.  A courtesy not returned by Marco Politi.

The Pope’s remarks, which repeated the provisions of Canon Law, have been taken by some journalists even to amount to the Pope’s personal excommunication of pro-abortion politicians.  Less hysterical newsies report on the press conference without the background necessary to understand distinctions and clarifications made by the Pope nor by the papal spokesman or even Cardinal Bertone, the Secretary of State.

Let’s get back to Politi.

In his article in La Repubblica Politi writes (my translation and emphases):


To return to excommunication of a parliament in the 21st century is disquieting.  It opens up a question about the pontificate of Joseph Ratzinger.  …

[Here Politi repeats the Pope’s words on the airplane]

A weighty declaration, heavy with consequences beyond the Mexican case.

The Vatican immediately figured this out, sterilizing the papal words in the official news bulletin, seeking to mitigate the placet of the threats of the Mexican episcopate.  But Pope Ratzinger doesn’t commit gaffs – he did commit one even in Regensburg while evoking the attack of a Byzantine Emperor on Mohammad – he speaks and sends precise signals.

In the two years of the pontificate there has emerged a theory of Two Kingdoms.  There is the realm of socio-political choices, in which Benedict XVI respects the laicality of the State, underscoring that political activity is not the competence of the church and that it "must be transformed into a political subject", because it would distort its mission.  And then there is the realm of human existence – birth, sexuality, relations of couples, fatherhood, motherhood, genetics, death – about which in the name of natural and divine law the Church proclaims its complete power to intervene.  Here the freedom of conscience and deliberation of the Catholic [politicians] has no force.  Here the "right" of the Church demands absolute submission.  There is born from the conception the revival of the excommunication on the lips of the Pope.  A Catholic who does not obey is "out".  Meanwhile, the Church can use all its weapons: from canonical sanctions to political maneuvers directed as you see in Italy.  It is a dangerous game.  To lay the claim to impose religious doctrine as an absolute criteria of legislation means to enter into the logic of Sharia Law, which makes the word of God equal with civil law.

Amazingly obtuse.  And mendacious.

First, the Holy See’s Bolletino did not expunge and of the Pope’s words during his remarks.  What was given was an accurate transcription. There is an audio video clip of the remarks on the internet you can compare with the transcript.    

Secondly, after having essentially called the Pope incompetent for a long time, he now makes him out to be masterminding the destruction of democracy and the rights of man.  

Why is this important to anyone but the tens of people who read Politi in La Repubblica?  What happens with the Church in Italy, Church State relations in Italy, public debate and the Church in Italy, really does have an impact on the Church’s dealings with States in other parts of the world.  Public opinion about the Church, shaped by the press, has an impact on what the Holy See does on a "universal" level.  It affects timing, for example. 

Remember, the Pope is Bishop of Rome, Primate of Italy.  He must mind his own backyard as well as shepherd the universal Church.  He must always weigh what is happening here in all he does.  Therefore, we have to pay an a measure of attention to the Italian Press out of proportion to the actual number of people who read the daily editions.

Politi’s comments reveal the desire of the left to shut the Church out of public discourse, to sequester religion in the cage of the private and let it’s voice speak in the piazza.  They resort to hysterics to scare and shush.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Antonio says:

    Excommunication ferendae sententiae for those politicians woudn´t be a bad thing. And, please, let´s include Mr. Politi in the package.

  2. I am not Spartacus says:

    Bravo ! Well said, Fr. Thank you.

  3. danphunter1 says:

    The Holy Father should take Politi out behind the wood shed.
    Thank you,yet again,Father for exposing the Prince of Darkness in all his manifestations
    God bless you.

  4. Joshua says:

    It is a tip off that it thinks making the word of God equal to civil law should be a scary thing. It would only be scary if the word of God were brought down to be equal to human law. As it is it is superior. God or man? Mr. Politi apparently thinks religion is ordered to man and not God….modernist

  5. Paul Murnane says:

    Fr. Z,

    Is this a change of tactics by Mr. Politi and the left in Italy? It seems to me that they’re stepping up the attacks as they realize the quiet, but powerful influence the Holy Father is exerting.

  6. “Keep in mind that a chat with the press is not ever going to be an instrument of promulgation of laws or official interpretations of laws, or decrees or censures or anything else.”

    I think this just shows how self-important the media thinks they are, or thinking they have the “scoop.” It’s too bad that the mainstream media doesn’t have people knowledgeable in Catholicism covering Catholicism.
    It’s ironic that the media criticizes the pope for talking about sex if he is under a vow of chastity, yet the media can talk about Catholicism if they are not Catholic.

  7. Luca says:

    Father, imagine what “Vita Nuova”, the would-be “catholic weekly” published in Trieste wrote:
    “[…]il provvedimento sui Dico, che di certo non rappresenta una priorità per il nostro Paese, ma — è doveroso riconoscerlo con onestà — nemmeno un elemento in grado di destabilizzare l’istituzione familiare”
    brief translation:
    “DICO – you must recognize it honestly – cannot destabilize family”!!!
    So who criticizes Dico is dishonest!
    And these people call themselves catholic!!!

    I have written formal protests to the Bishop of Trieste and to the Secretary of the CEI.
    I don’t want to be insulted by an unknown stupid jounalist who claims to be a catholic as well!

  8. Father: I think you should subtitle your blog: What Did the Holy Father Really

  9. andrew says:

    Perhaps we need some Pastoral Smackdowns, St. Nicholas at the Council of Nicaea style.

  10. Thomas says:

    To return to excommunication of a parliament in the 21st century is disquieting. No – what’s disquieting is the continued assault on the family and our faith, most especially the widespread and horrible practice of abortion.

  11. Jordan Potter says:

    One must wonder if it has ever occurred to Politi that the Church might actually be right . . . .

Comments are closed.