An article with critical observations about The Big Interview

I direct the readership’s attention to an article at First Things, by R.R.Reno concerning TBI (aka The Big Interview™).

It is provocative.  We need to work through it.

A few samples.


[T]he tone is mobile, the rhetoric fluid, and he uses terms and phrases from the standard playbook of progressive reform. Thus, the media’s reading of the interview isn’t willful.

When Pope Francis was elected a friend asked me what to expect. “Strap on your seatbelt,” I replied. The comment didn’t reflect any special knowledge of Jorge Bergoglio. But I know Jesuits. They tend to be extremists of one sort or another. They’re trained to speak plainly, directly, and from the heart rather than according to the standard script.

Many passages in this interview reflect Pope Francis’ identity as a Jesuit.


A key passage involves his image—a very helpful one—of the Church as “a field hospital after battle.” He observes that in such a circumstance we need to focus on healing as best we can. Some of the protocols and procedures fitting for a hospital operating in times of peace need to be set aside.

He then digresses into fairly extensive reflections on what the Church needs in the way of pastoral leadership in this situation: “pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials.” We’re not to allow ourselves to fixate on “small things, in small-minded rules.” The Church needs to find “new roads,” “new paths,” and “to step outside itself,” something that requires “audacity and courage.”

These and other comments evoke assumptions that are very much favored by the Left, which is why the interview has been so warmly received, not only by the secular media, but also by Catholics who would like the Church to change her teachings on many issues.  [His message was adapted, made apt, for that audience.]

[HOWEVER… there are consequences…] Such comments by Francis do not challenge but instead reinforce America’s dominant ideological frame. It’s one in which Catholics loyal to the magisterium are “juridical” and “small-minded.” They fear change, lacking the courage to live “on the margins.” I heard these and other dismissive characterizations again and again during my twenty years teaching at a Jesuit university. One of my colleagues insisted again and again that the greatest challenge we face in the classroom is “Catholic fundamentalism,” when in fact very few students today even know the Church’s teachings, much less hold them with an undue ardency.

It’s in this context that Pope Francis makes extended observations about the profound pastoral challenge of ministering to gay people today, to which he adds the personal statement that he cannot judge a homosexual person who “is of good will and is in search of God.” He also speaks of other pastoral challenges: a divorced woman who has also had an abortion. These are subtle remarks, and necessary ones.

He sums up this section with statements about the witness of the Church today. They are the ones most often quoted: “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods.” “It is not necessary to talk about these issue all the time.”

In themselves these statements are obvious and non-controversial. Since my entry in the Catholic Church in 2004, I have heard some homilies on abortion, gay marriage, and even one on contraception. But these are infrequent. For the most part priests expound the mystery of Christ, which, as Pope Francis emphasizes, is the source and foundation of our faith. Without Christ at the center, the Church’s moral teachings can quickly become mere moralism.

But Pope Francis has been undisciplined in his rhetoric, casually using standard modern formulations, ones that are used to beat up on faithful Catholics—“audacity and courage” means those who question Church teachings, the juxtaposition of the “small-minded” traditionalists to the brave and open liberals who are “in dialogue”, and so forth. This gives everything he says progressive connotations. [Undeniably true.] As a consequence, American readers, and perhaps European ones as well, intuitively read a progressivism into Pope Francis’ statements about abortion, gay marriage, and contraception. Thus the headlines. [One might suggest that TBI uncut the USCCB with a scythe.]

This is not helpful, at least not in the field hospital of the American Church. [NB] We face a secular culture that has a doctrine of Unconditional Surrender. [A “liberal” is a person with whom you are free to agree.] It will not accept “talking less” about abortion, gay marriage, and contraception. The only acceptable outcome is agreement—or silence. Dialogue? Catholic higher education has been doing that for fifty years, and the result has been the secularization of the vast majority of colleges and universities. Today at Fordham or Georgetown, the only people talking about contraception, gay rights, or gay marriage are the advocates.  [I had to ask myself what a lot of people wrote to me after TBI: “Where are all these priests preaching too much about contraception?”]

The Holy Father is trying to find his way—we’re all trying to find our way—in a sometimes (but not always, as he rightly emphasizes) hostile secular culture. That Francis will make mistakes is certain. He says as much himself. I think he has in this interview.


There is more, but you should go over there and look at it.

Reno brings up some good points and we have to be ready to deal with them.

I regard to “Unconditional Surrender” I respond…



On a different level, persevere and resist oppression. Be the Maquis!


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Be The Maquis, Francis, Liberals, Our Catholic Identity and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Percy Franklin and John XXIV suddenly spring to mind – ‘The Church needs to find “new roads,” “new paths,” and “to step outside itself,” something that requires “audacity and courage” ‘ – but then each quite the opposite of ” undisciplined in his rhetoric, casually using standard modern formulations”. Fr. Z observes, “The Holy Father is trying to find his way” – might it be that of Fr. Franklin and the Papa Angelicus? How might one well encourage in that direction?

  2. James C says:

    I was coming through it okay until I saw that big “Thank You” note to Pope Francis from the National Abortion Rights Action League. That organization is pure evil, and it disturbed me to see them thrilled about ANYTHING being said by the pope.

    The Holy Father is trying his best, but I think he needs some good, frank, and especially shrewd counselors. Even living in Casa Santa Marta, a pope can still find himself disconnected from what is happening on the ground.

  3. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    “Be the Maquis!” I am reminded of the admirable ‘journey’ of Dr. Alois Hudal from 1 May 1933 to his work in the underground. Dum spiro, spero.

  4. McCall1981 says:

    The only (small) positives that I saw coming out of this interview are that 1) most of the media coverage, even those with the sensationalist headlines, made the point that he’s changing tone, not teachings. I thought they would more aggressive in trying to assert that he’s changing teachings. And 2), that the strong pro-life comments he said the next day got a fair amount of media coverage. I thought his statements would have basically been covered up entirely, but I think they got out there pretty well.
    I would give just about anything to find out whether Francis knows how his statements are being taken, and what he thinks about it.

  5. vandalia says:

    I think one thing people will have to adjust to is the end of “northern-centrism” from this point on. It is a bit arrogant to assume that the situation of the Church in America (and to a lesser extent in Europe) is going to be the exclusive and/or driving force motivating the words and actions of the Holy See.

  6. Cathy says:

    I just read an article about a pro-gay marriage priest being excommunicated. It was written in Latin with no reason given. I have a strange feeling that Pope Francis does not feel a need for incessant dialogue with religious who dissent against Church teaching.

  7. Bosco says:

    “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34

    Not exactly ‘can’t we all just get along’ sentiments.

  8. Long-Skirts says:

    Pope Francis said:

    “Vatican II was a re-reading of the Gospel in light of contemporary culture,” says the pope. “Vatican II produced a renewal movement that simply comes from the same Gospel. Its fruits are enormous.”

    What hope is there in a man who can look at a devastated vineyard and see a bumper crop?

  9. Cosmos says:

    You said, “I think one thing people will have to adjust to is the end of ‘northern-centrism’ from this point on. It is a bit arrogant to assume that the situation of the Church in America (and to a lesser extent in Europe) is going to be the exclusive and/or driving force motivating the words and actions of the Holy See.”

    Look at a map. I think about 88% of the world’s population, including most of Africa and all of Asia, is in the N. Hemisphere. It may be even more arrogant for those in South America to assume that their minority should be driving the agenda.

  10. Stumbler but trying says:

    @ Cathy,
    I agree…he will continue along the path of Calvary carrying the Cross and us upon his shoulders. He will deal with those who dissent just as Papa Benedict did…prayerfully, quietly, and without much papal fanfare. I give him all benefit of doubt as I trust he knows full well what he is doing.

  11. Bosco says:

    “…and a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” Matthew 10:36

    Time to strap-up and grab your catechetical go-bags, I think. TEOTCAWKI (The End of the Church as We Know It).. perhaps.

  12. McCall1981 says:

    Thanks for that link. It is stories like these, that go mostly unnoticed, that give me some level of hope for him. I’m starting to hope that maybe his style is more liberal, while his substance is more conservative. For all the hubbub over his comments and style of living, he has also continued the LCWR reform, released a very orthodox encyclical on faith, his curial appointments seem to be pretty moderate/non-ideological at least so far. Who knows?

  13. PioJose says:

    ” in the field hospital of the American Church.” We have an American/European understanding of the culture wars and what’s happening in the field. Almost half of the world’s Catholics live in South America, where the Pope was archbishop of one of the largest archdioceses in the region. Latin America is going through many situations similar to what we have experienced in the US and Western Europe since the 60’s-70’s. However, the situation there is different. The Pope brings with him almost sixty years of ministry in Latin America, not Europe or the US. It is obvious that his style or preoccupations will be at least a bit different than what we have been used to from European popes.

    Francis has seen the abject poverty of the people at the margins of his city Buenos Aires, poverty that neither Ratzinger as a German archbishop nor Wojtyla as a Polish prelate, had to deal with. When you see people diving through the garbage for food or being displaced from their makeshift villages your priorities are very different. Of course Benedict and JPII were cognizant of this and lived through very rough years in both their countries but the situation in Latin America is still very dire in a way that Poland or Germany have not experienced since those days during and after the War.

    It’s time for us to be known for what we are for than for what we are against. It is harder to walk with people and gently lead them to Christ than to quote the Catechism at them and remind them of the evils they’re involved in. It’s a reality. Local bishops are the ones who need to decry the problems in their regions, it is absolutely justified that American bishops spend a lot of time on life issues since abortion is so radically available and allowed here. In other places the restrictions are much more stringent and bishops there have to approach it differently. Abortion is evil, but repeating that is not enough. We need to change hearts, and laws too, but in the end the heart needs to be won over in order for a culture of life to really flourish.

  14. ladytatslace says:

    @LongSkirts said above “What hope is there in a man who can look at a devastated vineyard and see a bumper crop?”
    That is exactly where you should place your hope, Pope Francis sees the harvest to come, even in the midst of devastation. He is not giving up, why should you?

  15. Bosco says:

    “Groundbreaking: The Last Warning to the Pope’s Electors” by Sandro Magister (13 August 2013)

    “The official bulletin of the Holy See has lifted the secrecy from the meditation dictated to the cardinals at the beginning of the last conclave, with the doors already closed. Here are the essential passages…”

    I think this piece of Magister’s is interesting in that it was given to the Cardinal electors as an assessment of the state of the Church immediately before the election of Pope Francis. It is a first release of such a document and would indicate what was echoing in our Pastors’ ears as they entered the conclave.

    The address to the Cardinal Electors is grim reading, I think, and does not seem to favour a ‘happy clappy’ approach to evangelization.

  16. McCall1981 says:

    I agree that that meditation is not “happy clappy”. But then why is Francis acting so “happy clappy”?

  17. PioJose wrote,

    “Latin America is going through many situations similar to what we have experienced in the US and Western Europe since the 60?s-70?s. However, the situation there is different. The Pope brings with him almost sixty years of ministry in Latin America, not Europe or the US. It is obvious that his style or preoccupations will be at least a bit different than what we have been used to from European popes.”

    Good point Pio and perhaps we should keep that in mind. I do wish though Pope Francis was given a heads up on our American culture-then the media might have less of a chance of having a field day with his talks/comments. On the other hand it’s our job to be aware of it and come to places like Fr Z’s blog for the real scoop. The media is NOT our friend.

  18. Bosco says:

    On 22 June 2012 Father Z. posted a link to a 1991 talk given by Joseph Card. Ratzinger to the American Bishops, ie. “Conscience and Truth”.
    Hard to read Francis through Benedict on this one.

    The link to Cardinal Ratzinger’s talk is (I think):

  19. TomD says:

    As the first modern non-European Pope, Pope Francis probably does not have much direct experience with the manner of controversy that we have, especially in the Church in the United States. Does this explain, in part, his approach to the faith that disturbs us just a bit?

    All indications are that Pope Francis is orthodox, although perhaps not orthopraxic, and that his unique pastoral approach is good for the Church, a kind of pastoral wake-up call. My concern is his apparent unfamiliarity with how the media, and the opponents of orthodoxy within the Church . . . especially in the US, but also in Europe . . . will use his “imprecision” when speaking to attack or discredit orthodox Catholicism, even as he himself is primarily orthodox. I still am not sure if he is doing this on purpose, or it is largely unintended. If it is intended, as an orthodox believer, why?

  20. tcreek says:

    23 years ago, Pope John Paul in his 1990 Redemptoris Missio – “As the third millennium of the redemption draws near, God is preparing a great springtime for Christianity, and we can already see its first signs.”

    Pope Francis also seems to see the signs- “Vatican II produced a renewal movement that simply comes from the same Gospel. Its fruits are enormous.”

    Very upbeat, except for the facts.

  21. vandalia says:


    I was talking not in a purely geographical sense, but in a cultural sense. North America and Western Europe are quickly moving from being the dominant force in the Church, to a backwater.

  22. Bosco says:

    Remnant contributor, Christopher Ferrara, just today has published (above) an insightful and straightforward analysis on Pope Ratzinger, Pope Francis, and the Catholic understanding of ‘Conscience’:
    “Francis the Awesome’ : The Consequences of an Off-the-Cuff Papacy”

    I highly recommend having a read of it.

  23. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I was struck yesterday by the Secret of the Mass, “ut sicut tuam cognoscimus veritatem, sic eam dignis moribus assequamur.” The ‘mores’ and the knowledge of them do not seem widely separated from any and everything else which “tuam cognoscimus veritatem” may include, nor does the aspiration “assequamur”.

  24. Palladio says:

    I find the article wholly unconvincing. I see the response to the interview as ill informed (e. g., the inadequate (because so incomplete) reference to the character of Jesuit training). The condescension suggested to my mind in referring to His Holiness by his first and last name–a slight I find usually issuing from the more paranoid of the SSPX–is off. Nine years a Catholic, and already in a position to criticize the Pope–really, rap him on the knuckles with a charge of “undisciplined rhetoric”–or praise him as the case may be. I do not even know what to make of “These are subtle remarks, and necessary ones.” I do think it will be decades before Catholic intellectuals find their way back to the summits prepared by generations gone by. Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, pray for us.

  25. Bosco says:

    Thanks. I think Cardinal Burke is inspiring.
    He made some forceful pronouncements about abortion and pro-abortion politicians when he visited us here in Ireland a few months back.
    Gutsy and straightforward man, not afraid to clearly speak out about the issue of Catholic politicians who vote for or otherwise promote the abortion agenda.
    He strongly suggested such ‘catholics’ must not approach or receive the Eucharist.
    No ‘Romanita’ in him.

  26. netokor says:

    Bosco, yes, he is exemplary. Clear, forceful and charitable. No need for nuances translators with this man. Every moment we remember, we must pray for him and all holy men and women in the Church, valiantly taking on the enemy, regardless of the cost.

  27. pconnor says:

    The field hospital metaphor is one the most effective ways to describe the church. Thank you joly father!

  28. Transportsjoie says:

    Cathy, thanks for the link about the pro-gay marriage priest in Australia who was excommunicated – a very succinct analysis of the Holy Father by Tim Stanley, and I agree. The liberals are misunderstanding his statements and hearing in them what they want to hear – I believe in the end they will be sadly disappointed. He is a new Pope, and this is the honeymoon phase, similar to what occurs when a new unknown President is elected. Everyone loves him – at first. It will not be long before the apparent support by the liberal media and others evaporates.
    Protestants that I know are impressed with him, and I think this will continue , except for maybe the most extreme (Episcopalians, etc). Without changing or watering down Church teaching, perhaps Pope Francis is making Catholicism more approachable to those outside the Church.

  29. av8er says:

    Today’s USAToday article on the pope’s visit and his recent comments is an example of what Reno says in his article. All the progressive buzzwords were inspiring to the article’s author, either a non catholic or a poorly instructed one, leading to his analysis that pope Francis will be changing church teaching on homosexuality, contraception and abortion to bring the lost sheep back to the fold while alienating and loosing the small orthodox faithful who still go to mass.

    The analysis was garbage but the article would not have been written if it were not for the pope’s choice of words.

  30. Bosco says:

    Things seem so jumbled-up these days. ‘Charity’ is (as I was always taught) not just working in the soup kitchen or kissing leprous feet, it is also unflinchingly telling hard truths to your brother or sister in Christ when their immortal soul is endangered by their conduct.
    But now it appears I am judgemental and lacking in Charity if I tell my brother that his adultery or drunkenness or homosexual behaviour offends our Good God and will land him in hell.
    Diabolic disorientation has entered the world and (as Pope Paul VI said) the smoke of Satan has invaded even the Holy Catholic Church.
    Never thought we might suffer martyrdom at the hands of the Church.

  31. Gretchen says:

    The penchant of some Catholics to dismiss other Catholics because they are converts (recent or not) is unfair. I have learned this, not only because I am a convert, but because I have heard, and undoubtedly said, some very un-Catholic things along with a plethora of other Catholics I know.

    For example, I heard from a dear “Cradle Catholic” friend of 70 years of age that she did not need to go to confession because she did not sin. Thankfully, our parish priest insisted she go to confession anyway (it had been years and years).

    I think R.R. Reno’s article was pretty balanced, and the fact that he had taught with Jesuits at a Jesuit university for 20 years probably does give him a perspective that most of us don’t enjoy, even if he is only a Catholic of nine years.

  32. Traductora says:

    The only thing that has puzzled me about the Pope’s interview has been that very issue: Where exactly are all these priests and bishops who spend all their time talking about abortion and homosexuality? The latter is never mentioned – and as for abortion, most of the priests here even refuse to read the bishop’s annual pro-life Sunday letter.

    I think the media has created a perception that this is the case, however, so that any statement, no matter how oblique or mild, is held up as a sign of the Catholic “obsession” with these matters. I don’t think Francis is very familiar with this country and what goes on here. He’s very eager to evangelize, but perhaps he himself is relying too much on media distortions without even realizing what they are. He sounded more as if he were referring to some of our wackier, rule-obsessed, rigid, fundamentalist Protestant sects.

    That said, maybe he realizes that he was misunderstood – today he not only defrocked but excommunicated a dissident priest in Australia, and Cdl. Burke came out and said Nancy Pelosi should be excommunicated. Also, maybe having said the things he did makes it easier for him to do the hard things of governing, something that other popes seem to have found difficult.

  33. The Masked Chicken says:

    “I was talking not in a purely geographical sense, but in a cultural sense. North America and Western Europe are quickly moving from being the dominant force in the Church, to a backwater.”

    Don’t stop there. Finish the thought. Why are they becoming the backwater? It is because of the lack of sound doctrinal adherence. This is exactly what needs to be focused on and what Pope Francis was so dismissive of in TBI. I spent most of the weekend thinking about these issues and I have, unfortunately, come to very similar conclusions to Prof. Reno. Pope Francis has, essentially, thrown the West under the bus. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict diagnosed the problem with the West as a loss of clear reasoning (see the Regensburg lecture), which, when the loss reached the man-on-the-street, led to them being carried away by all sorts of whims and selfish triggers that have led to the decay of the modern family, to the incredible loneliness in the West, to the craving for a family at any cost, even perversion. It is not a lack of love, or so the homosexual couple will tell you – it is an inability to sort truth from falsehood, from what is essential to man to what is merely material. Jesus told Pilate that anyone who sought the truth heard his voice. This has been the message that the last two Popes have been harping on.

    Nothing has changed that would require a sudden 180 degree turn-around. It is not that the doctrinal approach is small-minded. It is just that it has never been tried, to paraphrase G. K. Chesterton (although there is some doubt he ever said such a thing).

    The underlying problem in the West is its incredible loneliness, but this has come about because of poor reasoning and a faulty anthropology of man foisted on it by liberal Protestants and the psychological industry. Love is not enough. The West has most of the money, today, and it is acquiring it by developing the manipulation of the truth into a science. Combat that and the West can be rescued, but don’t try to sell it the notion of love. We passed that point back in the 1970’s. The LCWR is really good on, “love,” but they have no idea about truth. Love will become just another action to be manipulated. We are seeing it right before our very eyes in the homosexual debates. Does Pope Francis understand any of this? This need for the clarity of truth, of exposing the dirty tricks, is the central need of the West. So say the last two Popes and I cannot think that Pope Francis has any more Divine insight than they do. No. He has given up on the West. He seems to think that doctrine and dogma has been tried, but there is no evidence to support this conclusion, anywhere, I say, anywhere, in the world. I have no idea how he could have come to this conclusion except as a personal opinion, since the facts simply do not back him up.

    Saying that the rest of the world will respond to love and that is where Catholicism is trending (in South America, Africa, and the Near East) so that this is the correct approach is a very short-sighted one, because, as these countries transition into Second and First-World countries, the glow of love will be replaced by the desire for lucre and back will come the dirty tricks and the manipulations.

    We know how to fix this situation in the Church. We have known for 800 years. People are being manipulated into the formation of bad habits that feed the coffers of industry and make the masses poorer, lonelier, and frustrated. Sure, they need to be loved, but as with any bad habits, the first step of that love is exposing the hidden triggers and temptations so that they can be overcome. The Church has become a Church of junkies, of people with bad habits. Expose those, fix those, and the church will change, overnight. St. Thomas Aquinas, borrowing from Aristotle spent a lot of the last part of the Summa discussing habits. It is in the realm of habits that things have gone wrong in the West and we know a heck of a lot about the neuroscience of habit-formation, today, that supports everything St. Thomas said.

    I can’t get into habits, cues, responses, rewards and the like, but showing love from the Church does no good unless you diagnose and treat the underlying pathology. Every country, almost without exception, as they have made economic gains have seen a corresponding drop-off in reproduction rates. Sure, love, but if you don’t treat the underlying pathology, that love will simply be run-over by the same forces already at work in the West. It is the discipline of the Church, manifested in its fasts, prayers, and almsgiving, that has resisted the pathology of the self that has so afflicted the West. Doctrine and discipline and good habit formation can turn things around. There is nothing small-minded about that.

    Pope Francis said that you treat the patient, first, then look at the pathology, but that is not how medicine works. You have to know what you are dealing with before you can prescribe a treatment. It is true that the world has lost a sense of the love of Christ. That is the effect, however. Showing it love may help as a palliative, but it simply doesn’t address the underlying causes. Heck, the Nestorians, Arians, etc., all claimed to have heard the Gospel message and known the love of Christ in some fashion or other, but it was the correction of doctrine that led to their incorporation back into the Church. Love must be supported by strong doctrine or it produces a very weak Church. The early martyrs died for love, but they also died in the truth – a truth they would not surrender.

    Pope Francis has gotten a lot of press for his remark, “I see the Church as a field hospital after battle,” but, in reality, the battle is still going on and the Church is not a field hospital, but a MASH unit – it must be quick, it must be mobile, but most of all, it needs to know where the fighting is. In making his remarks, it remains to be seen if the Pope has placed the Church on the right battlefield.

    The Chicken

  34. Bosco says:

    @The Masked Chicken,
    Excellent! Excellent!

  35. GregH says:

    The problem with preaching mercy in our country is nobody believes in sin anymore so what use is mercy?

  36. The Masked Chicken says:

    One last thing.

    I have tried to do objective analysis of the words in front of me whenever I have spoken about Pope Francis, but I can’t help but think that, increasingly, my frustration has begun to color my words. I keep thinking of scenes of, “In the Shoes of the Fisherman,” by Morris West as I think of everything going on, but the scene that I remember the most is when the heretical priest (played by Oskar Werner), sitting next to the Pope said, “Tu es Petrus.” It is this, above all else, that I must remember. I am going to have to back away for a time and re-evaluate my usefulness and respect in making comments about Pope Francis.

    The Chicken

  37. Basher says:

    Masked Chicken, I would read your blog.

  38. Masked Chicken, excellent!, more need not be added

  39. snoozie says:

    The interview was an unqualified horror; no matter how much lipstick one tries to smear on it, it’s still….what it quite clearly is. The fruit of this papacy is beginning to roll in….

    heartbreaking. He is gunning down the generals. “Friendly fire” is the worst.

  40. Katylamb says:

    Gretchen, I don’t understand. Why did she need to go to confession if she no longer sins? (I’m sure she meant mortally, venial sins need not be confessed to a priest) I think frequent confession is a good thing, but really, it is not strictly necessary unless one is guilty of mortal sin.

  41. Katylamb says:

    Sorry, I realize how off topic the above post is. I would remove it if I could.

  42. Bosco says:

    The second precept of the Church requires: “You shall confess your sins at least once a year.”

  43. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    The Chicken said, among many excellent things, ” This need for the clarity of truth, of exposing the dirty tricks, is the central need of the West.” Punning on “clarity” and “charity of truth” might be in order. The hospital image got me thinking about the fourth movement of Eliot’s Quartet, “East Coker”, “The wounded surgeon plies the steel”… And that of “Little Gidding”, too: “Who then devised the torment? Love.”… had a post earlier this month about various, related instances of ceasing “to be the legal recognition of a physical reality, and [becoming] instead the legal recognition of a legal reality.” It could have added, or started with, ‘AID’, ‘Artificial Imsemination by Donor’, and ‘lovingly’ disguising genetic realities with authoritative legal fictions.

    Orwell’s analyses of ‘language politics’ also come to mind (however he failed to practice honestly himself where Christianity was concerned).

    “The central need of the West”, indeed, and of any ‘missionary work’ to boot.

  44. robtbrown says:

    When Pope Francis was elected a friend asked me what to expect. “Strap on your seatbelt,” I replied. The comment didn’t reflect any special knowledge of Jorge Bergoglio. But I know Jesuits. They tend to be extremists of one sort or another. They’re trained to speak plainly, directly, and from the heart rather than according to the standard script.

    Who was it who said about Cardinal Bergoglio that he never reveals what he’s really thinking? This seems to be fairly typical of Jesuits, who have been trained to keep their own counsel.

  45. McCall1981 says:

    Similar to the Australian Priest that got excommunicated by Francis yesterday, today an Argentinian Priest was defrocked for promoting gay “marriage” and the proces was begun and lead by then Card Bergoglio

  46. A Sinner 2 says:

    The pope’s quotes on abortion and homosexuality make sense in my view. As a revert, I have been uncomfortable with the image of the Catholic Church as the “anti-abortion Church” or the “anti-Gay-marriage Church.” In my own case, I was pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage before I returned to the Church, and I returned to the Church despite this, and was “converted” to the Church’s view on these issues.

    It was EWTN with its reverent Masses and (back at that time at least) explanations of Catholic practices and tradition, and Catholics who were neither communists nor wishy washy wimps that brought me back to the Church.

    Catholics should be anti-abortion because they are Catholic. If the “Catholics” of the U.S. and Canada and formerly Catholic Latin America were still Catholic, abortion and gay marriage wouldn’t be political issues: the politicians wouldn’t dare touch them and ideologue judges who did would face ostracism or impeachment.

    While I suspect the pope would agree with the preceding paragraph, I’m afraid he wouldn’t understand the one prior. And it often seems to me that for many, consciously or not, the anti-abortion movement is a last vestige of Catholicism in a Church stripped of tradition and doctrine.

    Explaining the pope’s statements in terms of differences between the Church in the “West” and other parts of the world is a mistake. To the extent such differences exist, they are the result of the “Babelization” of the Church through the use of the vernacular and “inculturation” (a ridiculous and culturally imperialist concept forced on societies such as Latin America and the Philippines that had been Catholic for centuries).

    In any event, these interviews are ultimately meaningless. One could take Paul VI’s statements and find a genuine understanding of the state of the Church, yet the Church was all but destroyed under his watch. It’s what Francis does that’s of importance. And so far, based on the persecution of the Franciscans of the Immaculate and his recent appointments, the signs are ominous.

  47. Nancy D. says:

    Why America Magazine and not a Catholic publication?

  48. TimG says:

    @ The Masked Chicken – excellent writeup. IMHO this was done with as much charity as is humanly possible, I appreciate your insights and encourage you to keep contributing to this blog. Viva Cristo Rey!

  49. donato2 says:

    I’m still in a state of stunned shock. A pope who garners applause from NARAL, the New York Times and Andrew Sullivan. It is devastating. Yet I always feared this and in a way I always thought that this trial would come.

    What I would like to know is what the college of Cardinals thinks about all this. How many of them regret their vote I wonder. Did they know this is what they would get when the voted for Bergoglio? If they did, we ain’t seen nothing yet.

  50. Southern Catholic says:

    @The Masked Chicken

    So what is you you solution then? You can analyze all day that pope is wrong, but can you offer legitimate solution other than dogma and doctrine? If a person doesn’t believe in your doctrine and dogma then what? It’s easy to sit behind a computer and say the problem is this and that, but it is much harder to actually put your words into action and make a difference. It seems like you and a lot of commentators here talk a lot but don’t do much to change anything.

    Please explain how you will tell a homosexual that his actions are sinful using doctrine, and then bring him back into the Church. Pray tell, because we all need to know. Especially because most reject the gospels and Christ

    These last few days have sickened me after reading the comments on here, it is always the Pope is bad, the Pope is wrong, or he is the antipope. There is even a comment about the church martyring people. It’s all disheartening, and there is a lack of hope here. I don’t know if I will come back to this blog anymore.

  51. Priam1184 says:

    Our world is in the midst of rapid and seemingly uncontrollable change. We all need to take a breath and not worry so much because the Spirit is in charge. The world may begin to look entirely different (it can and has in the past changed in a heartbeat) by the end of Francis’ papacy and the things we are getting all worked up about may not mean so much at that point. I don’t know, just a feeling but the next time we see something like this about the Holy Father everybody needs to chill out and say a Rosary for him.

  52. Ambrose Jnr says:

    I’m looking forward to a couple of years from now when I hope to see Pope Francis getting the media distortions and moving into a more ecumenical position with respect to the Orthodox church by using the clear language they use in Russia, in Ukraine etc.

    Currently, I would say cardinal Burke is the most ecumenical in this respect: reverent traditional liturgy and clear moral teaching…

  53. Nancy D. says:

    Let’s be honest. The media is not responsible for the content of the pope Francis interview in America Magazine, nor is it the fault of the media that the interviewer did not feel the need to clarify the red flag statements. This interview is what it is.
    We accept God’s Gift of Grace and Mercy through Faith and Good Works. The True God, The God of our Salvation desires that we overcome our disordered inclinations so that we are not led into temptation, but become transformed through God’s Grace and Mercy.

  54. RafqasRoad says:

    An observation or two if I may,

    It would appear to me that some here are concerned about Pope Francis not nuancing his messages enough so as not to be misinterpreted by the US media or US Catholics. truth to tell, US Catholics make up a tiny proportion of the worldwide Catholic population (approx. 25 Million). In the shadow of the worlds over 1 billion catholics, this is very small beer. It would be far more reasonable to assume that Pope Francis (who does not speak English, so all his sayings/speeches/sermons etc are necessarily translated before they reach Anglosphere consumption) would concern himself with the concerns, pressures and faith issues that are faced by the vast majority of Catholics worldwide, most of whom reside in Africa, South & Central America, and Asia. These populations are the Catholic majority and future, not the West, and definitely not the Anglosphere, who somehow thinks that its needs must take precedence. the ‘Majority World’ otherwise known as ‘the Third World’ or ‘The Developing World’ is Catholic Central now. We in the West are relying on their priests and missionaries to serve our churches; ironic, does not one think.

    Give Pope Francis a break and don’t expect him to taylor his messages for American (or even Australian) ears.


    Soon to be South Coast Catholic (Aussie Maronite)

  55. Saint1106 says:

    Good analysis. Bishops and priests, in general, do not like to be in the public square. We are pastors first and foremost. But when it comes to issues of life, the nature and definition of marriage, and proposals by cities to provide contraception to children in grade school. the gospel demands a prophetic response. Thing of the long years of leadership in the pro-life movement by Cardinal O’Connor, the work of the Sisters of Life, the growth of the annual pro-life march in Washington each year. Yes, the church has to be a field hospital looking after the wounded. But the church also has a prophetic mission. Lets hope and pray that the interview does not lead us to forget the latter.

  56. PA mom says:

    Speaking warmly and mercifully to the general populace and justly defrocking dissident priests?
    That sounds like a reasonably good papal approximation of “speak softly and carry a big stick…”

    In any case, I swear to you, much of the problem in the West is the religious Ed programs, which are churning out thousands of Deists who will self identify as Catholics, or more likely former Catholics, in opinion polls, but who never regularly attended Church during their formation, and whose parents didnt either.
    I am working on an incremental approach of how to get them back to Church, sending things home, inviting them to classes, calling them out on their lack of belief in Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament as demonstrated through their lack of Church attendance, weekly mailings of lessons for parents to share with their children and generally trying to bring them into the community.
    In my experience, priests need to be back in this arena, listening and finding out from these families what they don’t know anymore and step by step rebuilding the knowledge back into their family.

  57. Mariana2 says:

    “The Holy Father is trying to find his way”

    With respect, he is 72. Surely he must mean what he is saying and know how people/journalists will react?

  58. Legisperitus says:

    I can’t help but think of Screwtape: “The game is to have them all running about with fire extinguishers when there is a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under.”

  59. LarryW2LJ says:

    “In regard to “Unconditional Surrender” I respond…

    HELL NO!”
    Very good, Father Z! May I please take the liberty t0 add:

    “We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.”

  60. Katylamb says:

    @Bosco: for grave sins. Catholics are NOT required to confess venial sins to a priest.

  61. Bosco says:

    I merely cited the precept of the Church. It seems like a good jumping-off point for anyone interested in educating themselves on the precepts of the Church.
    My understanding is that frequent confession (whether in the state of mortal or venial sin) is salutary, increases the life of grace within us, helps us to come face to face with our daily transgressions against God (Mt. 6:12; Proverbs 24:16), and aids us in reducing the time we otherwise might spend in Purgatory.
    I shant cite the numerous papal statements recommending frequent, if not weekly, confession. You can find them quite easily with any search.

  62. Bosco says:

    Agree! Or, as U.S. Brigadier General McAuliffe replied to the German Commander in 1944 “Nuts!”

  63. midwestmom says:

    Considering the pro-SSM lobby is hard at work trying to legalize SSM in every state in the U.S., I believe the “play nice” directive is naive.

    Catholics must differentiate between those who suffer from unwanted SSA and those who want to deny that acting on it is a sin, or who want to teach our school children “acceptance” of not who they are but what they do. There are Courage groups on Facebook; join them as a show of Christian solidarity. They are barely supported by the Church and relentlessly attacked by the in-your-face SSA types. They have a story to tell and we should be backing them.

    BTW, Archbishop Cordileone’s interview with USA Today was a thousand times more useful to lay Catholics than was Pope Francis’s. Google it !

  64. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I posted this in the wrong comment box originally. Sorry!

    Here’s a question:

    Do you think that maybe the Pope’s interview was actually directed most at other Jesuits? He certainly seemed to be emphasizing matters of common Jesuit experience and schooling. It’s been a scandal for years that so many Jesuits haven’t loved and obeyed the recent popes, or only obeyed in a halfhearted way. The good Lord could hardly reach out more to the Jesuits than by sending one of the “good Jesuits” to be Pope, and I’m sure that Pope Francis feels that responsibility keenly. So an emphasis on their common Jesuit identity is like the voice of the shepherd, trying to call back the Jesuit sheep.

    That also might explain why he might be a little careless about what the other 99 sheep hear in the interview’s wording. If he can catch that one Company of Jesus sheep, he gets tons of shepherds to help herd the 99, and catch new sheep too. If we baa a lot in complaint, he knows it’s annoying for us; but he also can hear that we 99 are still where he left us.

    Of course, we sheep aren’t known for keeping our cool once we start getting worried! I think that’s what’s sad — a lot of us have lost that placid trust. But then, maybe we need 99 pairs of sheep eyes looking for wolves, instead of gazing at the grass. Right now is wolf time.

  65. Bosco says:

    @The Masked Chicken,
    Remember, Friend Chicken, that Doctor of the Church St. Catherine of Sienna wrote thus to Pope Gregory XI ‘offering her advice’ that he should leave Avignon and re-establish the Papacy in Rome:

    “Since (Christ) has given you authority and you have accepted it, you ought to be using the power and strength that is yours. If you don’t intend to use it, it would be better and more to God’s honour and the good of your soul to resign….If I were in your place, I would be afraid of incurring divine judgement… Cursed be you, for time and power were entrusted to you and you did not use them!”

    Of such stuff are the saints made. Tough birds indeed!

  66. Bosco says:

    @The Masked Chicken,

    Just in passing, I shouldn’t put too much stock in Oskar Werner’s “Tu es Petrus” line in The Shoes of the Fisherman.

    Remember in Fahrenheit 451 Oskar also said ” We burn them to ashes and then burn the ashes. That’s our official motto.”

  67. McCall1981 says:

    Not that it changes your point, but he is 76, soon to be 77

  68. Katylamb says:

    @Bosco: You cited the precept and I will cite this: Can. 989- After having reached the age of discretion, each member of the faithful is obliged to confess faithfully his or her grave sins at least once a year. Grave sins. If you have none you cannot confess them, can you?
    I have said that frequent confession is a good thing but that wasn’t the issue. The issue was whether a “cradle Catholic” was too uneducated to KNOW she had to confess even though she had no grave sins on her soul. She was right though, she didn’t have to. Dr. Ed Peters agrees with me too.
    Your attitude to me is very arrogant but I suppose that should make me happy. I’m in good company along with the Holy Father in being an object of your presumption that I’m ignorant.

  69. paxchristi says:

    Thank you Masked Chicken! And thank you again. There are the obvious analyses of Catholic North American ailments (from the top down we need to be evangelized and catechized), and then there are the deeper reflections based on these analyses. Your reflection was thoughtful and thought-provoking. It would be grand if you would share your blog address (and if you don’t have one, it is long overdue :^))

  70. Marcus de Alameda says:

    “The Holy Father is trying his best, but I think he needs some good, frank, and especially shrewd counselors…”

    Not to overlook those who are in his close court and plan his PR and news releases. Reflect on the scandal via BXVI’s butler. BXVI’s inner circle was breeched.

  71. Bosco says:

    I don’t know where you read arrogant into anything I wrote. I’m sorry for your take on my response. You could not be more wrong. You bristle with no provocation.
    I’ll be more sparing in responding to your future posts.

  72. Katylamb says:

    @Bosco: If I misread you then I apologize and admit I was wrong to accuse you of arrogance. Please forgive me. However, I was right about confession. I guess I bristled at the wrong post. I am a lifelong Catholic who gets a tad tired of hearing about how ignorant of Church teaching we “cradle ” Catholics are . I see it too much and guess I’m overly sensitive to it now.

  73. Bosco says:

    No sweat. I am a cradle Catholic too. I have a tendency to write in a rather direct manner.
    Forgive any offense I may have occasioned.
    I was a judge for over 25 years and have not yet shed some of my old habits.

  74. Katylamb says:

    @Bosco: That’s fine then. I’m just relieved not to see any red writing below my off topic comments. :)

  75. C. says:

    “Without Christ at the center, the Church’s moral teachings can quickly become mere moralism…[One might suggest that TBI uncut the USCCB with a scythe.]”

    Q. What is arguably the greatest Christo-centric evangelistic push of this century?

    A. Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ.

  76. Bosco says:

    I agree wholeheartedly.

  77. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    RafqasRoad wrote, “Give Pope Francis a break and don’t expect him to taylor his messages for American (or even Australian) ears.”

    This observation seems a fair one, and makes sense. Unfortunately, even popes and bishops must to some extent rely upon a substantial amount of annual revenue coming in.

    Currently I believe, the most substantial revenue streams for the Church as a whole, originate with churchgoing North Americans.

    If significant numbers of churchgoing North Americans were to become . . . alienated, disaffected, whatever term you might choose, that might have an impact on the Holy Father’s bottom line, including the many fine Church-operated programs for the poor, elderly, disabled, and marginalized.

    Take-away: If you care about helping the poor, you don’t alienate the rich utterly.

  78. Phil B says:

    The Masked Chicken remarked above, “Pope Francis has gotten a lot of press for his remark, ‘I see the Church as a field hospital after battle,’ but, in reality, the battle is still going on and the Church is not a field hospital, but a MASH unit – it must be quick, it must be mobile, but most of all, it needs to know where the fighting is. In making his remarks, it remains to be seen if the Pope has placed the Church on the right battlefield.”

    I would add that not only is the battle still going on – indeed, it has been one big battle since that afternoon in the garden, and will be till the end of time – but the Church is also the Church Militant, following Christ into the fight.

  79. GAK says:

    I’ve seen nothing in TBI that I would categorize as a mistake on the part of Pope Francis.

    Part of the battle against the secular & progressive PTBs is to refuse to play on their terms. A subset of that battle is to speak freely, frankly, sincerely. And to not worry, hand wring, and second guess yourself over all of the misconstructions that could be applied to what you say.

    It is paralyzing to play by the rules set forth by these PTBs. It is impossible to constantly guard your thoughts, expressions, and language in order to avoid saying something they can claim as their own.

    To allow oneself to be paralyzed by their expectations, their ground rules, and the spin they WILL apply is to forfeit the game.

    I don’t understand the concern some have about TBI. I take a display of frenzy, of spin, of glee by the PTBs as a really solid sign that they are not as sure of themselves as they pretend to be.

    After all, by their own standards, they shouldn’t give a pile of dung about what the Church says. Further, the fact that they have actively, subversively NOT called attention to Francis calling same sex marriage “a machination of the father of lies to destroy the children of God” tells us they are cunning. But we already knew that.

    They play every card they’ve got. They change the rules. They counterfeit cards. Anyone who is certain of winning the game has no need to do these things.

    I take the maniacal spin and the maniacal “glee” as a barometer of just how far they know they have to go. They have to spin, lie, misconstrue. Because that’s the only way they can get the story they want.

    In the meantime, we have our own story. It’s not a story that can be shaken by lying headlines, opinion polls, and what the masses erroneously believe Pope Francis said in TBI.

    It’s a story that’s lived in our daily reception of the sacraments, faithfulness in prayer, and mortification of ourselves. That’s how we are going to “reach” the masses who are misled by the PTBs. By entrusting everything we’ve got, and everything we do each day, for the salvation of souls who will love God eternally, we’ve got the golden card that the PTBs can’t counterfeit. Behind the angst of the PTBs is the angst of the devil. He knows all is he has is indirect influence. He has no direct power; direct power belongs to the Keys of Peter. Hence his mania.

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