First thoughts about the Francis Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also, think about the “Francis Effect” in the reporting of this interview.  [People are picking up on “Francis Effect”.  Nice!  Maybe I should make it FrancisEffect™?]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another point:

Pope’s don’t govern through interviews.

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

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

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

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

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Thank you Fr. Z. My first reaction was some real concern (not a nutty, but getting there), the MSM is going all out in their attempts to create the Virtual Francis you so clearly identified. Fishwrap has an article up with 130 comments already, those poor misled people are falling all over themselves right now…

  2. Bosco says:

    C’mon! Aw c’mon, Father Z.

    He didn’t know the MSM would run with it? After all this time in office? Why/ Why? Why?

    What precisely does all this mis-speak do to promote evangelization? This makes the martyrs look like they made a terrible mistake dying for doctrines and beliefs so equivocal.

    “Well, you did it again.” – Ronald Reagan

  3. Mike says:

    I think the virtual/real distinction is a good one. I am also scratching my head trying to figure out why the Church must put speak of love before it speaks of moral issues when Our Lord’s first word in the Gospel of Mark is “Repent”.

  4. Rouxfus says:

    “There is not a word in the interview that changes the Church’s teaching. ”

    Perhaps, but the perception of the teaching of the Church, the “Virtual Teaching” may change and, at the rank and file level individual pastors may govern their parishes based on the NY Times reading of the Pope’s interview, and the People of God who really are the Church, reminds the pope, will have their perceptions of the teachings shaded by the media.

    The Holy Father spoke a lot about the Church as the People of God, but I didn’t read anywhere him saying it is the Body of Christ.

  5. McCall1981 says:

    Fr. Z, thank you very much for your helpful posts on topics like this. I greatly appreciate the spiritual support you provide for me. Thank you for all the good work you do.

  6. Bosco says:

    “Praedica verbum insta oportune inportune argue obsecra increpa in omni patientia et doctrina.” 2 Timothy 4:2

  7. Rouxfus says:

    Pope Francis, in speaking about homosexuals, suggests that love comes before doctrine, and that we must keep in our focus the person and not their sin. But in charity to the person, and out of a concern for the well being, the everlasting, eternal destiny of their soul, are we not called to admonish the sinner? “Who am I to judge?”.

    If a child wanders onto a railroad grade and is standing on the tracks and there is a train bearing down on them, “Who am I to judge?”

  8. Bosco says:

    Agree. And were the apostles put to death for preaching love?

  9. stroseym says:

    The media seems to leave out the fact that in the section they keep quoting, Pope Francis speaks repeatedly on how much we need Confession and how the lax Confessor is just as unmerciful as the rigorist Confessor. Having read the interview, I would say the theme of that section is “We’re all sinners, so everyone go to Confession!”

  10. Captain Peabody says:

    Another takeaway from this interview: Pope Francis prays his breviary in Latin!

    And Pope Francis’ emphasis on confession and pastoring (which includes, as he says in the interview, admonishment and acknowledgment of sin) in the context of the Church as the primary means of spiritual growth needs to be taken as the context for his talking about not judging. It is the responsibility of spiritual fathers and pastors to admonish and to judge individuals when necessary; it is not the responsibility of people thousands of miles away, even if they are the Pope.

  11. Bosco says:

    If everything is up for grabs in the field of belief and my right may be your wrong, what in Pete’s name would prompt you to confess anything? We’d both be following our respective lights and therefore guiltless.

  12. gracie says:

    CBS Radio top of the hour national news led with the following:

    “Upending traditional Catholic dogma, Pope Francis has said that the Church spends too much time on homosexuality, abortion and contraception and needs to be more welcoming.”

    Father, you say, “We have to be sure that, with all the media attention, with all those interviews, that the “virtual Francis” is not stronger than the “real” Francis.

    Will all due respect, Fr. Z, I am sick and tired of these public “messes” that Pope Francis spills all over the floor of the media world that we – the faithful – are then supposed to clean up. These type of “virtual Francis” messages have been relentless since his pontificate began. Is he unaware of the confusion, consternation, and hardship he’s causing to those of us who are trying to be faithful to the Church’s teachings? It’s insulting to be told we Catholics who are fighting against the great evils of the day are spending too much time on such things (you know, those mortal sin things) and apparently are mean curmudgeons who aren’t nice enough to people. Why the either-or? Why are the two things being opposed to each other as if the more you do of one the less you must be doing of the other?

  13. Supertradmum says:

    “Only in narrative form do you discern, not in a philosophical or theological explanation, which allows you rather to discuss.” He is not a Thomist! But, I think we knew that. That he quoted my favorite opera is a great plus on the description of hope.

    Stranger, listen!
    “In the gloomy night
    an iridescent phantom flies.
    It spreads its wings and rises
    over infinite, black humanity!
    Everyone invokes it,
    everyone implores it!
    But the phantom disappears at dawn
    to be reborn in the heart!
    And every night it’s born
    and every day it dies!

    What I found the most interesting was the Holy Father’s commentary on memory in prayer, having done an in depth study of that last year in the monastery and putting those thoughts on my blog. The ideal of memory in Ignatius is strong, but limited to certain types of memory, not just any. One of the very interesting things of the entire conversation is how Jesuit the Pope really is. I am actually glad to see that.

    And, of course John of the Cross moves beyond memory. As to other comments, I shall leave those to others.

  14. cdbeard01 says:

    I have to disagree with the point about the Virtual Francis. I haven’t read the CBS piece, but the NYT piece followed what Francis discussed in the interview pretty closely. It even directly says that Francis isn’t changing the teaching of the Church: “These teachings [on abortion and homosexuality] are ‘clear’ to him as ‘a son of the church,’ he said, but they have to be taught in a larger context. Already the commentariat is expressing disappointment that he didn’t “equalize” women and all of that.

    We need to consider that Francis means what he says. He’s clearly not changing the teaching of the Church, but he is (rightly) changing the emphasis. “We love our gay brothers and sisters, but we don’t approve of their lifestyle” is functionally the same message as “We don’t approve of their lifestyle, but we love our gay brothers and sisters.” But former is going to guarantee that people tune out unless they already agree with the Church.

    Without changing our teaching (and certainly not going the Episcopal route), we need to acknowledge that too many people didn’t so much leave the Church over homosexuality as they were pushed out.

    Benedict did a good job acknowledging this fact with divorced and remarried Catholics. I’m glad to see that Francis is doing this with gay Catholics.

  15. ljc says:

    Yahoo had “Pope Blasts Catholic Church” as their head title. With an angry looking picture Pope Francis to go with it. They have since changed the title to “Pope: Church ‘Obsessed’ with gays, abortion”

  16. pmullane says:

    Francis words are deep and provoke thought. They also provoke discomfort. Thanks be to God, we should not be comfortable in our faith. Is Francis ‘changing the rules’ about the sinfulness of homosexuality? No! What Francis says is that we must show the mercy of Jesus before we insist on his justice (his laws). We must bring our brothers as sisters, all off our brothers and sisters, to Christ, to know him and to love him. When they know Christ and love him, then they are ready to be told ‘go and sin no more’. If gay people, or women who have had an abortion, or people who have committed this sin or that, think that because of their sin, because of their state, because of their disorder, think that the Church is not for them because of the things that members of the Church say or ways that they act (rather than a false picture painted by someone else) then the Church has failed at a basic level. We are all sinners, and we all must show the mercy to others that we have been shown ourselves.

  17. stroseym says:

    Absolutely nothing is up for grabs in the field of belief. That’s why the lax confessor is unmerciful. It is not mercy to tell someone that there is no sin when he has done something wrong. I completely agree, if it were the case that anything were up for grabs, then yes, why the heck would anyone confess. But there is a right and wrong, which we can repeat until we’re blue in the face. And because there is a right and wrong that is the same for all people, we need Confession for when we unfortunately do wrong.

  18. cdbeard01 says:

    @pmullane said what I was trying to say, but said it much better.

  19. Robbie says:

    The idea about the real Francis and the virtual Francis is an interesting one, but, as we know with VCII, the virtual impression always wins out. Father Z and others can write and say Francis has said nothing new, but that’s not the message the average person hears. They hear what sounds like a new view on gays, divorce, and the role of women in the Church.

    When we had “Pope on a plane”, many hoped he was just naïve as to how the media would report his comments. I was dubious about that and the last two months support my view Francis knows exactly what he’s doing. He wants to be perceived as a progressive. If some of his comments were ever misinterpreted in a conservative way, I might feel differently. Unfortunately, from my view, they always come down on the left side of the Church.

    I continue to believe these statements are an effort by the Pope to prepare the rank and file for big changes down the road, but it seems the one place where change is prohibited is VCII. Francis said its fruits are enormous and the council is absolutely irreversible. He did call SP “prudent”, but also said it could become ideology while warning about restorationists.

    Having said all that, I think one comment Francis said is very important and I hope he takes his own advice. “When you express too much, you run the risk of being misunderstood.”

  20. Geoffrey says:

    “Another takeaway from this interview: Pope Francis prays his breviary in Latin!”

    I completely missed that! I guess it is indeed time to print the entire article and get out my highlighter.

  21. RJHighland says:

    His words are constantly mined by the media for a reasonable liberal/progressive interpretation which can pretty easily be done with the way in which our Pope speaks. But what I never hear from the Vatican or the Pope is a strong correction of the incorrect interpretation. With-out a focused correction from the Vatican or the Pope people are comfortable interpreting the Holy Father’s how ever they choose guide often by the “Spirit of Vatican II.” I pray that the Holy Father speaks with clarity on those issue that separate us from the false prophets in the world and brings the light of truth to the world and not the smoke of confussion. The smoke is what will destroy the Church not the Truth.

  22. contrarian says:

    It’s 3:53, and here’s what some news outlets are leading with:

    CNN: Pope Francis: Leave Gays Alone
    NYPost: Pope: Stance on Abortion, Gays Massive Threat to Church
    Daily News: A Very Frank Francis: Blunt pontiff tells flock to yammering about gay marriage, abortion, and contraceptives–or moral edifice of church will ‘fall like a house of cards.’

    Drudge seems to have left it alone for now…

    We’ll see!

  23. Unwilling says:

    Thank you, Fr Z.
    “Le charisme de la foi permet, a ceux qui l’ont reçu, de répandre des paroles qui rassurent et réconfortent.” From Comment devenir un saint ?

    He must be saying something we need to hear.

    vivus est enim Dei sermo et efficax et penetrabilior omni gladio ancipiti et pertingens usque ad divisionem animae ac spiritus conpagum quoque et medullarum et discretor cogitationum et intentionum cordis … “Living” “penetrating” “intentions of the heart”

  24. wolfeken says:

    Darn that media! All those direct quotes over the last six months. Boo, reporters! Boo, messengers!

  25. Supertradmum says:

    May I just make one general comment. We have just had over a quarter of a century of two philosopher-popes, who were also used to writing and teaching from a European perspective. Now, we have a pope who seems to prefer starting with his experiences in the world, rather than a philosophical framework, as he admitted, the time he was in the seminary was not particularly a good time for Scholasticism.

    He seems to be more eclectic in his thinking approach than are either Bl. John Paul II or Pope Emeritus Benedict. This eclecticism works for him in discussing things but also can be used against him, as definitions are not as clear in this framework. The Jesuit mindset would be more attuned to the society and the world, of course, which is what I meant about him being more Jesuit than I thought. There would be no “philosophical system” of Jesuitry, but a using of many streams of thought. To put it all down to a mystic approach would be dangerous and naive, however.

  26. casey says:

    I am not a scholar, as many of you are, but I can read a headline:

    CNN, Pope: “Leave Gays Alone”
    MSN, Pope: “We must rethink gay, abortion issues”

    I am lost…is the plan to make us into a much larger version of the Episcopal church?

  27. SimonR says:

    I’m weary, simply weary of all this.

    Here we go (again) with more Pope Francis inspired headlines:

    BBC News “Pope Francis has said the Catholic Church is too focused on preaching about abortion, gay people and contraception and needs to become more merciful. He warned that the Church’s moral structure could “fall like a house of cards” unless it changed.”

    Daily Mail : “Pope warns Catholic Church may fall ‘like a house of cards’ if it continues its obsession with abortion, gay marriage and contraception”.

    I can’t remember the last time I ever heard anything said from the pulpit about abortion, homosexuality or contraception?

  28. Pnkn says:

    I’m having difficulty understanding what the phrase “….it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.” means.
    Seems like the Incarnation and the Church are indeed radical and thorough interventions/interferences in our spiritual lives (and especially the sacraments !)
    Il Papa is certainly well read, thoughtful, and a speaker of Latin !
    Except for this one phrase, I was warmed in my heart when reading the interview, and am eager to act on the pope’s comments and also to read those authors which he states influence him.

  29. pmullane says:

    You know what, the media work for the devil, in the main they choose sensationalism (which sells) or opinion (which furthers their agenda) over truth (which doesn’t). The media are not our friends. There is no form of words which the Pope can use that would not be ‘spinned’ by the media. But if faithful Catholics ignore what the Pope really says in order to jump on a bandwagon fuelled by media misdirection, because they prefer indignation to self examination, then the salt will truly have lost its saltiness.

  30. Bosco says:

    “We need to consider that Francis means what he says.”

    Nice try.

    #1 What does he say? Good luck chasing down the first hand reports with the full texts.

    #2 What does he mean? Good luck there too. He does not seem to be one to subsequently clarify what he’s said and if he has to be read/intuited through so very many different private prisms then it’s all shibboleth to me. There’s a lot of whistling past the graveyard these days.

  31. Choirmaster says:

    To a certain extent perception is reality.

    Whether it’s the “virtual” Francis or the “real” Francis the effects would be much the same, save changes to the letter of the law. Granting an interview to America magazine (or any media outlet at this stage in this pontificate, with the benefit of hindsight) is irresponsible. In my opinion, it should be obvious to anyone that these MSM headlines and the perceptions that follow are the inevitable result.

    I will, out of respect for the successor of St. Peter, assume that he is ignorant of the perception he is allowing to grow in the popular imagination, and of the historically dissident nature of America magazine.

  32. wolfeken says:

    pmullane — um, even Pope Paul VI figured out how to communicate clearly on social issues without getting his words “spinned”:

    It wasn’t received well by the media and general public. But it was CLEAR.

  33. Sofia Guerra says:

    Might be worth a thought: Sister Mary Isidore in the second grade told us: “God gave you two ears and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you speak.
    She should have also said, anyone who keeps trusting the MSM (knowing whatever you say is going to wind up there) needs to be schooled on how this whole communication thing works in the 21st century . What a ridiculous mess. Pray in silence for silence, please…

  34. KingofCharity says:

    “Because the Church’s teachings are clear, Francis will spend his precious time and energy showing a side of the Church that people, especially the MSM, hasn’t paid attention to: that the Church is not a museum of the perfect, it is a field hospital for sinners.” Bingo, Fr. Z.
    Pope Francis is a doctrinal conservative and social liberal, bottom line. He is bridging the Deposit of Faith together. All Catholics have to accept this. He is not a heretic, or a progressive heterodox revolutionary. He is a “complete Catholic.” He is placing emphasis on the “left leaning” social doctrines that have been ignored or downplayed over the past decades. He is bridging the RCC’s “right wing” teachings with our “left wing” teachings in order to present the entirety of the Apostolic Faith to the world. He is not allowing any of us to be “cafeteria Catholics,” left or right, conservative or progressive, orthodox or heterodox. He is calling us all out. Our Holy Father is practicing what he preaches . . . . “Shake things up.” Rock the boat. Get people talking. Get people defensive. Get people to learn and know their faith. Get people in dialogue. He is shaking the Church up and forcing all of us to know our faith wholly and completely. He is forcing us to have to discuss the RCC faith openly and thoroughly. He is forcing us to learn our faith and debate it in the public sphere. He is restoring our moral credibility and authority in the eyes of the secular media. He is forcing the progressives to confront their heterodoxy and forcing traditionalists to face their downplaying of the social doctrines. The Pope’s strategy is working . . . . . people are talking Catholicism. Media is talking Catholicism. Traditionalists are talking with progressive liberals. Progressive liberals are talking to traditionalists. He is waking up the Church and shaking it up, forcing us all into dialogue and confrontation. He is forcing us to be in a position to clarify, elaborate, and expound the Faith. Catholicism is not a dusty, irrelevant museum or medieval relic, it is now the front page news of the world. That is the Pope’s goal.

  35. charo says:

    I’m sure it’s comforting to the babies who will be aborted that their importance needs to be placed in context of making the tent bigger.

  36. Supertradmum says:

    Maybe he should just move into the Vatican Papal Apartments and be quiet for awhile. God bless him

    The other thing is the South American, Spanish way of thinking which is foreign to so many of us. Cohelo and Marquez, for example… all of which I do not like, but find very post-modern and interesting from that point of view. In one of Marquez’s novels, he explores the idea of the “the solitude of power”. Maybe our Pope is trying to avoid that….

  37. JacobWall says:

    Thank you Father!
    I have not yet read the interview, but I knew where to turn for a voice of reason in the mean time.

  38. Ignatius says:

    I am from Argentina. I was not a fan of Card. Bergoglio. I drink fernet. But some people bitterness around here is even too much for me.
    Best regards,

  39. Desertfalcon says:

    Some harsh comments here and although I certainly have not read the interviews in their entirety, and while the press is certain to spin anything to their own ends, at some point the press can no longer be the excuse. From what I have followed and read of the Holy Father, I think it clear that once you get through the sensationalist headlines, a good deal of what is reported is not just liberal media invention, but has real foundation in what Pope Francis is advancing. Secondly, I think it a mistake to assume that what Pope Francis *has* been saying, is meant to be purely a criticism of the Church’s “image”. His statements seem to express a desire to change more than just the cosmetic.

  40. Glen M says:

    Although it’s only been six months, Pope Francis has exhausted me. My off-line social circle includes lapsed Catholics, active and lapsed Protestants, and atheists. I’m tired of hosting weekly “No, that’s Not What Pope Francis Said” interventions. Sure it may be making me sharper but these ‘Francisisms’ are only entrenching existing prejudices and errors as presented by the mainstream media.

    I wish our pontiff would stop talking so much and start doing. Are there not enough problems in the Curia, the Jesuits and other orders, our schools, seminaries, etc? Is there not sufficient work to do that our pope has to create more? Did we not learn from Vatican II that ambiguity is not something to strive for?

    It’s frustrating that given the current mess we’re in the man in charge is focused on daily homilies and off the cuff interviews instead of long term solutions. Hopefully all this talk is setting the stage for a great restoration – there is much work to be done rebuilding Holy Mother Church.

  41. KingofCharity says:

    He is not being “silent” or indifferent toward the unborn. He has confirmed and approved the Church’s complete and utter denunciation of these intrinsic evils while simultaneously bringing emphasis to the entire gamut of the Deposit of Faith. In the past, liberals and progressives wanted to place all emphasis on the social doctrines while “rejecting,” challenging, or ignoring our sexual doctrines. Pope Francis wants the Church to highlight ALL our doctrines simultaneously. In order to restore our moral authority in the world so that people listen to us about abortion, homosexual marriage, and contraception, we have to show them our entire belief system. We are not solely about sexual and life ethics. Although abortion is the most important moral crisis in the world, we must preach ALL our other doctrines (even if to a lesser extent) right along side our public denunciation of abortion.

  42. McCall1981 says:

    @Kingof charity
    It’s interesting that you describe him as a “doctrinal conservative and social liberal”, because in some ways that is how I would describe myself, yet I find myself completely alienated by Francis.

  43. Athelstan says:

    Popes don’t govern through interviews.

    No, they don’t – but they do set a tone, one that percolates down through the Church.

    This interview doesn’t always say what some folks (looking at you, PTB, Commonweal, and NCR bloggers) think it does, and it says some good things (he really did affirm that he supports Summorum Pontificum, and what he says about confessors raises some valid points) but I can’t say I’m entirely happy about what he’s saying at every point, even on an optimistic reading. “Ideologization” of the Old Mass? Sure, it’s a problem. I’ve seen it. But don’t think for a nanosecond, Your Holiness, that it doesn’t happen with the New Mass as well, and hasn’t been happening for the last 43 years. Because it has.

    Allow me to say this much: Our spiritual and mental health might benefit from not focusing so much on everything the Pope says, regardless of who he happens to be. There’s a risk of not just an unhealthy ultramontanism, but a chronological ultramontanism – reducing the papacy at times to just ThisPope, with the previous 264 becoming a distant memory – and not just on t’other side of the debate. Perhaps we all . . . did a little too much of it when Benedict was Pope. Francis is Il Papa, the real Pope, not just some theoretical one we can just ignore while hoping for a better one; we owe him our obedience (and our prayers). But that doesn’t mean everything he says or does is condign, either, and the same is true of any Pontiff. Focus on your daily spiritual life, and corporal and spiritual acts acts of mercy, and work to rebuild tradition at your local level, as Fr. Z says; the rest will follow in due course.

  44. Rouxfous: “Perhaps, but the perception of the teaching of the Church, the “Virtual Teaching” may change and, at the rank and file level individual pastors may govern their parishes based on the NY Times reading of the Pope’s interview”

    A crucial point. Readers old enough will recall that the sad 1960s aftermath of Vatican II in the U.S. was shaped less by what actual happened at the Council, than by what Xavier Rhynne said happened, in his reporting from the scene for The New Yorker magazine. (And by similar reportage in the NYT, etc.) For those too young to recognize the name “Xavier Rhynne”, from Wikapedia:

    [The Redemptorist Fr. Francis Xavier] Murphy attended the Second Vatican Council which met at the Vatican from 1962-1965 as a journalist. Under the pseudonym Xavier Rynne, combining his middle name and his mother’s maiden name, he revealed the inner workings of Vatican II to The New Yorker. He is credited with setting the tone for the popular view of the council, depicting it as “conservative” versus “liberal”.

    Now, in the incisive analysis of Yogi Berra–too young to recognize his immortal name either?–it’s deja vu all over again.

  45. Vincent says:

    I’m sorry, but I’m a student at the University of York in England. Almost every day is a constant struggle against the English educational conditioning to hate the Catholic Church and most certainly to disagree with the arguments about atheism, abortion, contraception, etc.

    I’ve had enough of the constant lies and battles of “oh, the Pope says you can be an atheist and still go to heaven” (cue me having to tell atheist housemates the difference between the concepts of “salvation” and “redemption”). It’s time the Pope got a decent PR man: he cannot afford to keep on giving the wrong impression, or we’ll be at Humanae Vitae all over again – the fruits of delay were to cause people to believe that the Church’s teachings were going to be changed.

    Every time the Pope says something that can be so easily twisted, he makes it MORE difficult for those of us who are trying to labour in the vineyard…

    It’s time for the Catholic Church to teach the other half of the message of Our Lord. “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” The world has forgotten, but then it keeps on being told not to remember.

    I think it is regrettable that Pope Francis does not do more to give off the strident message of salvation. The world is talking about him, sure, but they’re talking about the wrong things. This is all very sad.

  46. charo says:

    I have two Godchildren whose father came out of the closet when they were about about 6 and 4. He lives with his boyfriend. I was very close with the father and mother for a number of years before this happened. The father posted on his Facebook “Who am I to judge?” and celebrated. I know there was more to the explanation, but that is what the youth are seeing. The children (there is another child who has different Godparents) moved away from the area years ago, and I don’t see them often. The mother is having a difficult time with teaching the children the faith. Yeah, right mom. The Pope even says you’re wrong.
    Another friend of mine who is in an intact marriage with a large number of children raised in the faith, has had the older ones gradually slip away about the teachings of the church on homosexuality; they support gay marriage. Her oldest son posted on Facebook “Who am I to judge?”
    The Pope is making it difficult for parents to teach the faith.

  47. Supertradmum says:

    KingofCharity, I do not think he realizes that in the meantime, we may, as Catholics, lose all our rights to personal conscience and freedom of religion in the public sphere because of national health care systems, and ssm, in Europe and in America. This is all coming to a town close to you and me asap. We do not have time to dialogue.

  48. charo says:

    King of Charity,

    I didn’t say or imply that the Pope somehow support abortion.

  49. Bosco says:

    “We are not solely about sexual and life ethics. ”
    And so every wishy-washy bishop, priest, nun, layman or woman, who wouldn’t lift a finger to prevent pro-abortion speakers on campus, etc. or chastise pro-abortion politicians, etc. is off the moral hook now. Silence is golden.

  50. Eliane says:

    Of all the intellectual dishonesty swirling around the Francis pontificate, I find the most absurd to be that Pope Benedict was fixated on “abortion, homosexuality and contraception.” In my recollection, Francis has already caused much more buzz and controversy over these topics than Benedict did through his entire pontificate. If you really don’t want to talk about something, zip the lip. But Francis keeps announcing that he is not going to talk about these topics, all the while tossing them out to the world’s consciousness to ensure they are talked about. Nor do I particularly appreciate his implying that bishops and priests are a bunch of bureaucratic cold fish. If you are loyal to the church and dedicate your life to keep in going, he rewards you with insults. Some pope!

  51. pmullane says:

    Wolfeken – Paul VI? Really? Humane vitae not spun? Tell that to the Catholics who have been told its ok to contracept ‘as long as they follow their conscience’. In any event I would contend that a papal encyclical isn’t really comparable with an interview in that way anyway.

    God bless.

  52. wolfeken says:

    Henry Edwards — great Yogi Berra quote. Sadly, even he is promoting things like this:

    But at least the Catholic-in-good-standing Berra does not run the “risk of the ideologization of the Veus Ordo, its exploitation.” Because that would be “worrying.”

  53. anilwang says:

    Rorate Caeli transcribed two sections from the interview:

    His comments are correct and orthodox, however in the context of the current state of the Church (note, he stresses context is important), they are way off balanced.

    For instance, “on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods… it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time”. The key problem I see as that these things *are not* talked about at all in most parishes. Even the USCCB opposition to the HHS mandate carefully avoids mentioning any of these and prefers to use the vague term “Religious Liberty”. Ask a non-Catholic or poorly catechized Catholic why the USCCB is opposing is the HHS mandate, you’d get back speculation and possibly a response that “Religious Liberty” is not absolute (e.g. Aztecs can’t have their human sacrifices). Ask them why Protestant companies like Hobby Lobby are against the HHS mandate, and if they know anything about the case they’ll say it is about abortion, since Hobby Lobby is not shy about their objections (even though fewer than 1% of their press releases have anything to do with abortion).

    If there is a correction to be made it is that more needs to be said at the grass roots level. It need not be an obsession (as the Pope states) since there are many charisms in the Church, but is one homily every year in every parish on each of these topics too much to ask? Is occasionally mentioning the true reason for the HHS mandate objection too much to hope for?

  54. wmeyer says:

    Henry: Xavier Rynne, indeed. The media trolls are more than eager to twist and pervert Papal statements on their own; they do not need to be thrown low, slow pitches.

  55. KingofCharity says:

    Remember, it was the MSM that erroneously spun the RCC has being solely obsessed with ONLY sexual and life doctrines. Yet, all orthodox Catholics knew that that “virtual spinning” was a lie. Now that the MSM is spinning a RCC that is not hyper-obsessed with sex and life issues, many get mad. Yet, the MSM’s admittance (through their interpretation of Francis) that the Church is more than just sexuality and life issues, is getting many Catholics mad. Yet, Francis’s vision is only proclaiming what we have always believed about ourselves, but felt that no one in the secular world or MSM ever believed . . . . mainly that Holy Mother Church is both the fountain of mercy and throne of judgment. In reality, they are actually starting to perceive us correctly. They are admitting that we can “become” what we as Catholics have always known that we are.
    In reality, the MSM is actually stating about the RCC what we have always been. . . . . . A Church who rejects abortion, gay marriage, and contraception, women’s ordination, etc. AND a compassionate, patient, merciful mother who admonishes the sinner, but does not “judge” and condemn human hearts. The MSM is admitting that we are and can be a merciful Church while still denouncing the intrinsic evil of abortion, gay marriage, etc. So, perhaps, Pope Francis is helping the MSM come to understand the RCC as she really is and what we have always believed she is and what we try to convince others she is.

  56. Louis Tully says:

    Eliane– As far as I can tell, Francis has only “toss[ed] them out to the world’s consciousness” when asked about them directly. As usual, the MSM demands that the Church explain Herself with regards to these issues and then immediately accuses Her of being “sex obsessed”.

  57. WesleyD says:

    So many of the commenters above seem to have forgotten about Pope Francis participating in the March for Life.

    Did Pope Benedict ever do that? No, and I don’t criticize him for it. Benedict was the most brilliant man to hold the papacy in many lifetimes, and he expressed himself best in his writings. Francis is a man of action, so he physically joined in the March for Life. But note that he also spoke out vocally against legislation regarding embryo experimentation, and even urged people to sign a specific petition — which is more direct involvement in democratic politics than any other papal action I can think of recently.

    Am I appalled by the New York Times headline? Of course. But I challenge anyone here to come up with a proposed papal statement that could not be twisted by the New York Times writers!

    SimonR wrote:

    I can’t remember the last time I ever heard anything said from the pulpit about abortion, homosexuality or contraception?

    Then maybe you should consider changing your parish. At the vast majority of the Catholic Churches I have attended in the United States — quite a few! — there is a prayer for an end to abortion, or respect for “all human life from conception to natural death”, or for respect for marriage in the Prayers of the Faithful, and sometimes in the homilies as well.

    I agree that contraception itself is almost never mentioned except in the context of the HHS mandate.

  58. Traductora says:

    I like Fr Z’ s remark about the “Virtual Pope” that the media has created. The press is running with it, but at least people are reading it and may actually start to think.

    Realistically, I thought he was simply saying we shouldn’t approach with the negatives first. We need to give people a positive view, not only of God, but of their own lives.

    “Why am I here, where am I going?” We all die, so everybody asks that question. Our Mother, the Catholic Church, has the answer. Look at the beautiful things the Pope has said about the Church in the last few days.

    His criticism was not of orthodoxy, but of the people who are withholding it by not presenting the Church as a loving virginal mother, the Bride of Christ, a mother but at the same time not fulfilled until the end time.

    We have been unable to express this. The great literary converts of the pre-Vatican II era did not come to the Church because they wanted to live like good middle class church ladies or gentlemen (not that there’s anything wrong with being one, if that’s what you are – they’re essential) but because that was where salvation from death and meaninglessness lay, and the Church, being a good mother, would extend it to them. Read Julien Green.

  59. tcreek says:

    Thinking with the Church:

    “Thinking with the church, therefore, is my way of being a part of this people. And all the faithful, considered as a whole, are infallible in matters of belief, and the people display this infallibilitas in credendo, this infallibility in believing, through a supernatural sense of the faith of all the people walking together. This is what I understand today as the ‘thinking with the church’ of which St. Ignatius speaks.”

    Huh? “Taken as a whole, are infallible…”.
    75% never, or hardy ever attend Mass … 1/2 of the CATHOLIC children have been preemptively denied life by contraception … 50% of Catholics are divorced … most? do not believe in the Eucharist … most voted in a radical pro-abortion president and other political leaders … most are sexually active before marriage … etc etc etc.

  60. Mdepie says:

    I think what we are going to see is exactly analagous to the “Spirit of Vatican II” in the sense that Pope Francis is a Jesuit and will have “liberal” tendencies, style and sympathy, although will not reverse Church teaching because he is a “son of the Church” and he is the Pope so the Holy Spirit will not let him teach falsehood any more than the Holy Spirit let Vatican II teach falsehood per se. Nonetheless ambiguous teachings that leave conservatives scrambling to deal with what the real meaning of the words are is not a good thing. We need to pray for help for the Pope as well as for the rest of us trying to make a case for a semblance of moral order. There is a thorough discussion of the “Spirit of Pope Francis” which anticipated this very latest article that can be viewed here and a little bit more here

  61. Jet41815 says:

    These kinds of explanation are getting increasingly tenuous. Every time the Pope says something that seems amiss, many immediately: 1) condemn the press 2) attempts to jam his statements into some semblance of orthodox Catholic teaching. The routine is getting tiresome, and is not very compelling when you examine what he says in context. It is clear that Francis is very progressive.

    I’ve read the whole interview, I always try to read the original source in toto. As an orthodox Catholic, what he says and implies is extremely unsettling. While there is no official or authoritative attempt to change in teaching (at least not explicitly), there is a definite change in emphasis and attitude. What does placing the Church’s teaching about abortion in the back seat say about the importance of that teaching? This interview is nothing but a grave scandal.

  62. Athelstan says:

    Just drilling in, I found one passage – dealing with confession and salvation – with some superb observations by Pope Francis – and one troubling one:

    “The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you.”

    Not to be pendantic, for all love (as Dr. Maturin would put it), but we must be clear: Jesus Christ has redeemed you. He offers you salvation. Will you receive it? Will you take up your cross and follow Him? All are redeemed. But saved? It’s our job as the Church, Christ’s Mystical Body, to be a channel for His grace to save as many as possible; to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12). We are not once-saved-always-saved Baptists.

    I feel fairly sure that this is what the Holy Father meant; but the way he expressed himself, off the cuff, it does not come off that way. Which, I think, goes to the danger of a Pope speaking “off the cuff.”

    ” And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all. The confessor, for example, is always in danger of being either too much of a rigorist or too lax. Neither is merciful, because neither of them really takes responsibility for the person. The rigorist washes his hands so that he leaves it to the commandment. The loose minister washes his hands by simply saying, ‘This is not a sin’ or something like that.”

    This really is superb. Of course, it’s not a balanced recapitulation of what’s happened: we have had, for the last fifty years, far more lax confessors than rigorous ones. But it is a balance that every confessor must work to strike.

  63. anna 6 says:

    I know that Francis isn’t changing any doctrine, or saying anything earth shattering, however, with love and respect, are we approaching a point of where there is just too much talking?

    I am worried that all of this is going to further the divide the Church. Pope Francis will never lose me because I understand and appreciate what he is trying to do. But I fear that some who have put their heart and soul into various causes will lose heart and become discouraged with all of the media spin. I really hope that when he meets with his group of 8 cardinals next month, they will advise him to slow down and consider how his words are being manipulated.

    I need to take a break from all of this.

  64. WesleyD says:

    Louis Tully wrote:

    Eliane– As far as I can tell, Francis has only “toss[ed] them out to the world’s consciousness” when asked about them directly.

    Then you need to get more news from Catholic sources. Pope Francis’ participation in the March for Life, and his public exhortation for Europeans to sign the petition for a ban on embryo experimentation, were covered by LifeSite News, the National Catholic Register, Catholic News Agency,, and Fr. Z’s blog which you are reading at this moment!

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  66. Bruce Wayne says:

    Listen to pmullane.

    Reading these despairing and impatient comments upbraiding Francis here makes me wonder whether those commenters have ever set foot into the real world, you know that vale of tears, the principality of Satan?

    1) How can you be surprised at the media portayal?
    2) Why do you even read or pay attention to them?
    3) Why do you think that any pope has the kind of authoritarian mental control of all human beings that you seem to desire he had?
    4) Don’t you understand that eschatologically speaking things will only get worse and worse at the mundane worldly level before everything eventually ends? In other words, HOPE is a supernatural virtue and does not at all contradict or negate worldly/finite pessimism. Why be surprised at the way the world goes? You should know better.

    Look, Francis does not care what you think. Get over your egos on this critical point. He does not care what liberals think. Or the media. Or the rich and powerful. His approach would not be yours if you were pope. Ok, fine, we get that. So what . . . and do you seriously honestly want to be pope or think you could do better, let alone deserve such a holy burden?

    Stop whining and seek sanctification in yourself and help those around you.

    Mind you this is not a “no criticism of the pope is allowed” complaint. It is about perspective and the manner in which one expresses critique. We are critiquing the prudential judgment of Francis in the manner he speaks and talks in interviews. THE PRUDENTIAL JUDGMENT. Criminy, differences of opinion over matters of prudence should not be a cause of despair.

    Francis does not read the NYT’s, again, seriously, WHY DO YOU?

    Francis did not invent “confusion” in or amongst the faithful . . . Satan took care of that invention with Adam and Eve.

    The constant refrain that any particular statement as construed by the media will “sow confusion” in hypothetically and unnamed particular believing Catholics is just histrionics or hysteria, not substantially different than liberals defending every stupid scheme they come up with as “for the children.” It is a battleground for our souls and everyone individually is in that battle in a certain sense alone. Their is a branch of my family where I was told by one of them that his family rejected the Catholic faith 150 years ago when his ancestor was “excommunicated” by the parish priest in their little Irish village after he stole the parish goat for a 3rd time after having been warned to stop doing so. This is not a joke. He has upheld this family tradition of rejecting the faith to apparently show solidarity for an ancestor who was a jerk and a thief. That is the reality of how irrational and conceited and obstinate fallen man can be.

    For every “careless” misquote of Francis who knows for how many people it becomes a proximate cause of either their apostasy or their conversion? Many commenters here seem to have special access to the mind of God, i.e., to Providence.

    Some practicing homosexual may very well see these misquotes as a reason (in his distorted egocentric way) to go to Church, to read about Catholicism thinking it will just affirm his vanity. Then in studying Catholicism or being at the Mass he may come to recognize his sinfulness and guilt and be drawn to start improving himself, first by struggling with celibacy/chastity . . . which would be a REAL improvement in his moral state.

    All this blathering at the “meta” level is tiresome. Souls are won or lost in the trenches not at the level of MSM headlines or trolling the net. And they are only lost irrevocably at death.

  67. Bosco says:

    I’ve made this observation before but I’ll risk repeating myself.
    I think the MSM adulatory treatment of Pope Francis is startlingly similar to its adulatory treatment of Obama.
    Everyone hears what he wants to hear because the content of what is communicated is so opaque and unintelligible the thing communicated is akin to an auditory Rohrschach test.

  68. KingofCharity says:

    Pope Francis’ vision and message are simple:
    Denounce, reject, and fight abortion will all your heart, mind, and soul while simultaneously, in the same breath, preach mercy, healing, forgiveness, and God’s infinite love.
    Objective sin is real. We are all sinners. We all need God’s mercy, admonishment, and healing grace. The Holy Catholic Church is the ordained sacramental instrument through which God’s saving grace flows into the world under normal conditions. The RCC is both the Bride and Body of Christ; therefore, the ordained and normative means of salvation; yet, God’s salvific grace is not confined to His own ordained vessel (the Church) of saving grace.

    Any Catholic who does not get this has much, much bigger spiritual and doctrinal problems than agenda-driven, poorly written MSM headlines.

  69. Supertradmum says:

    Bosco, the whole world is into adoration of the leader and cult of the leader personality-from North Korea, to America, to Russia and elsewhere. When people do not have a relationship with God, they make gods out of leaders.

    Getting up primed for the big, bad one, I am afraid….

  70. bourgja says:

    At a certain point, we have to ask ourselves if constantly spinning Pope Francis’ words so that they are compatible with the outlook of our past two popes is an effort doomed to failure. Why can’t we just admit that Pope Francis is just much more progressive, egalitarian, and lax in upholding liturgical standards and defending moral teachings, and that he is just not a careful theologian or communicator?

  71. SimonDodd says:

    “Intent to scandalize” is not an element of scandal. Francis just keeps on causing scandal and giving ammunition to the enemies of the church, both within and without, and at a certain point it ceases to be good enough to say “yes, but he doesn’t actually mean anything heterodox, he doesn’t mean anything scandalous, he probably doesn’t mean to hand a weapon to the enemies of the reform of the reform.” Perhaps so. But he does. Wait and see. The next time you try to fix a liturgical abuse, this is what you’ll hear: “Oh, Pope Francis has told us not to worry about small-minded rules,” so don’t cite Redemptionis sacramentum to me, don’t cite the GIRM to me—that’s just latin for ‘collection of small-minded rules.'” The next time we propose that maybe incense or chant be used, this is what you’ll hear: “Oh, you’re one of THOSE—Pope Francis has rejected your idea of ‘stubbornly try[ing] to recover a past that no longer exists.'” He may not intend to arm our enemies. But he does. Perception MATTERS.

  72. Bosco says:

    “Any Catholic who does not get this has much, much bigger spiritual and doctrinal problems than agenda-driven, poorly written MSM headlines.”

    Rather a broad ad hominem barb, KingofCharity. But do keep working on it.

    My instincts tell me (fallible, of course) there’s not much binding but a whole lotta loosin’ goin’ on and will be in future once the Holy Father and his 8 (?) cardinal advisers get together come this October to hash-out divorce, remarriage, annulments, priestly celibacy, etc. I may be wrong but I feel it comin’ in the air tonight.

  73. frjim4321 says:

    Think it’s another “pope on a plane” moment with various forces on the right scrambling to send out a message that the pope didn’t say what the pope said.

  74. Supertradmum says:

    bourgja, I think many of us have said that.

  75. Bosco says:

    I cringe at the thought of ‘the big bad one’ (whether political or ecclesiastical or both). I have read Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson’s “Lord of the World”. I’ll have another read.

  76. Supertradmum says:

    Well, when people have been trained to be sheep a la Bismarck’s kulturkampf and when we have a Church leader, who I do not doubt is a good man, but may have been elected by the Holy Spirit to watch over the disintegration of the West and more, we can only prepare by cooperating with grace to become holy. I did remind people on my blog that none of this was infallible; uneducated Catholics may think so.

  77. Kathleen10 says:

    I do not know which Holy Father is the “real” one any more, the true Francis or the virtual. I hear you Fr. Z. It seems though, that the result is still the same. It doesn’t matter which one is authentic, what matters is the one that gets into the hearts and minds of the culture, and right now, only the potentially virtual one is making inroads. If you say something long enough, does it matter anymore if it is actually true? It becomes true because enough people believe it, take it for granted that it is true. Remember, we have alot of very “low information” people out there, who learn everything in sound bites alone, and as we see, the MSM is running with it. So the takeaway sermon or soundbite is the one that is going to “stick”, and there is so much misunderstanding already! It is very tiring. I am agreeing with so much all of you are saying and especially whoever just said that we are approaching a time where speaking out is going to be very difficult. Is he aware of that? The poor people who are on the front lines on celibacy (priests and religious, laypeople, celibate homosexuals, etc.) are in a rough spot. I feel for them. Religious Ed directors, pro-life people, and laity just trying to be good Catholics. This is all a challenge.
    I am still pondering what the Cardinals intended.

  78. Traductora says:

    frjim, the Pope said exactly what he meant to say: the Church is our Mother. We come to Her, not all of us perfect, and She takes us in and wants us to do better – but She doesn’t make the doing better a precondition. He has spoken a lot recently about the Church as the Bride of Christ (I know that your ilk rejected this long ago) which the press won’t report because they don’t understand it. But the message of mercy will be understood way beyond this blog or the daily paper.

    Francis is simply calling out to sinners. You don’t have to be perfect to come to your Mother the Church. And you don’t even have to be perfect to remain. The Church offers to all men the gift of eternal life through Our Lord Jesus Christ. Death is the great enemy, and that’s what we’ve got to remember. Sin separates us from God, but Our Lord, through Holy Mother Church, can forgive us time and time again and call us onward and upward until we become what we were meant to be. But not unless we get in the door in the first place…

  79. Bruce Wayne says:


    The quote you give starts with THE FAITHFUL so you are making a basic mistake in offering up as a counter the behavior of people who by definition are NOT the faithful. He is defining the faithful by their BELIEF, their shared and common belief which IS an infallible belief handed to the Church to protect by God. That is what it means to be “dogmatic” it means to have a belief in “infallible truths” as they are divine.

    Besides, it is provincial to treat your experience as a Catholic in modern, secular (and originally only Protestant) America, or the apostate west more generally as if such people are equivalent to “the faithful” or the “Church.” Sure if you are a baptized Catholic you are one forever . . . but you know full well that someone who does not believe in the Real Presence is not a believing or “faithful” Catholic. At best they are a struggling, sinning, non-practicing, or confused Catholic. Let alone at worse being a dissenting or apostate Catholic.

    tcreek says:
    19 September 2013 at 4:08 pm
    Thinking with the Church:

    “Thinking with the church, therefore, is my way of being a part of this people. And all the faithful, considered as a whole, are infallible in matters of belief, and the people display this infallibilitas in credendo, this infallibility in believing, through a supernatural sense of the faith of all the people walking together. This is what I understand today as the ‘thinking with the church’ of which St. Ignatius speaks.”

    Huh? “Taken as a whole, are infallible…”.
    75% never, or hardy ever attend Mass … 1/2 of the CATHOLIC children have been preemptively denied life by contraception … 50% of Catholics are divorced … most? do not believe in the Eucharist … most voted in a radical pro-abortion president and other political leaders … most are sexually active before marriage … etc etc etc.

  80. Supertradmum says:

    Kathleen10, what the Holy Spirit intended-see my comment above yours.

  81. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    “Helping the poor” vs. “talking about abortion” is a false dichotomy.

    No one is poorer than the unborn infant who has been targeted for abortion. How much poorer can you get than to be tiny, hidden, helpless, unable to speak, unable to write, text, or vote, and utterly dependent for your very existence, upon someone who wants you out of her life?

    That is utterly, abjectly, irredeemably, unequivocally poor. Really poor. You can’t get any poorer.

    Anything we can do on behalf of the at-risk unborn infant is nothing other than to assist the poorest of the poor.

    How can any Catholic not understand that these infants are “the poor”?

    There’s no distinction at all between defending the unborn and assisting the poor. The former is ineffably a species of the latter.

  82. govmatt says:

    So we complain when a good man gets coverage preaching good doctrine?

    In charity, friends, this is the New Evangelization at work. Not to raise His Holiness too high, but Jesus used tax collectors and sinners to spread the good news. The Holy Father is getting coverage saying good and doctrinally correct things. We should be rejoicing at that, not rolling our eyes and saying “there goes ‘Fr. Bergoglio’ talking to the media again.”

    If anything the Holy Father is setting an example: engage with the world. Too long we’ve sat back and taken the insults and the stabs. Now the Holy Father is getting out there on the front lines and leading. Folks, this is what he should do.

    Yes the media will twist and distort what the Pope says. But, look… people are listening to the Pope. People are starting to engage with the message and the lapsed are listening. Benedict XVI prepared the way for a return to the Church by excellent appointments of bishops. We should not fear a watering down once the lapsed come back.

    To put, perhaps too fine a point on it: do you really want to criticize the good shepherd who walks through a pack of wolves going after lost sheep? (Or… how easy it would be for us to find ourselves as the brother who refused to go into the feast from this Sunday’s gospel)

  83. jhayes says:

    what I never hear from the Vatican or the Pope is a strong correction of the incorrect interpretation.

    Note that Francis reviewed and approved the text before it was published:

    “Once Father Spadaro had transcribed the interview and edited it for clarity and length, he personally reviewed the text with the pope, who approved it for publication.”

  84. mamajen says:

    I think Pope Francis is dumb like a fox. I’m really not worried about it.

  85. LuisaP says:

    Fr Z thanks for your fine comments.

    However…. there are people out there who are striving to be holy but who are not learned, well read, or able to ‘parse’ an article or speech as can the readership of this fine blog. The simple but striving to be holy people are deeply confused and troubled by this pope. I know such people! Many such people! They are surely much holier than I.

    Don’t they matter? Pope Francis said recently: The church is just fine; I am sure of it.” This simple Church Militant knows that’s not the condition they observe. They are beset on all sides by a culture that ridicules them, parish priests who wink at sin taking ambiguous papal words and ‘run’ with them, bishops who are more politician than apostle. Then this latest? !!

    I pray that Pope Francis will ‘zip it,’ as my mother would say, until he realizes that his words are heard by many diverse groups. Good communication is not only the sending of a message but having that message understood as the sender intends.

  86. Supertradmum says:

    Bruce Wayne and tcreek, as you know, the infallibility of the people of God would belong to those who are first of all orthodox-that is not holding on to any moral or doctrinal errors; second of all, practicing daily-that is praying and receiving the sacraments regularly; and third, those in sanctifying grace. The remnant in other words. Not, the entire Church of serious sinners, who may or may not actually be Catholic in truth, who could not be infallible as they would not even be in the Holy Spirit. We are all sinners, but some have moved into mortal sin or even apostasy and still claim to be Catholic.

  87. benedetta says:

    I thought it was a very cool interview and I’m pleased that Pope Francis is in the news! Hey, if the msm is happy with him, whatever. If it leads more to look into the Faith, awesome. One thing I loved: how he said he looks forward to prayer in adoration. Beautiful. Certainly, there is a lot there, much more than one headline or news article or political agenda can contain or fathom. But then the whole Gospel is like that, isn’t it?

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  89. Supertradmum says:

    govmatt, have you read the whole interview?

  90. KevinSymonds says:

    I think this is part of what Pope Francis meant by “lio”.

  91. Supertradmum says:

    Father Z, is all this not part of the false dichotomy created in the late 19th century between so called “pastoral” and “dogmatic” theology? The Church has from day one been pastoral, but only since the turn of the 19th into the 20th century was there this emphasis in seminaries for applied theology as opposed to dogmatic, and all the others, as stated in the CE.
    “Pastoral theology presupposes other various branches; accepts the apologetic, dogmatic, exegetic, moral, juridical, ascetical, liturgical, and other conclusions reached by the ecclesiastical student, and scientifically applies these various conclusions to the priestly ministry.”

    Since the 1960s, this supposed opposition of how a priest approaches a person in the confessional or in counselling has been big. I know of classes at Mundelein, for example, where pastoral theology means sitting around discussing possible scenarios with immigrants and their feelings, without even a word about all the other theologies.

    Can not this emphasis by Pope Francis reveal this now long separation between being pastoral and being doctrinal? Of course, this is a false dichotomy, but one persistent none the less.

  92. Quanah says:

    Thank God for Pope Francis. From the beginning he has wanted to get us into action – no different from all the exhortations of Bl. Pope John Paul II or Bemedict XVI. The difference is that the Pope forces us into action because of his actions. I teach high school freshmen. Today during lunch one of my students came up to me (she’s pro-homosexual everything) and informed me that Pope Francis said the homosexual life is okay. To which I replied, “No he didn’t.” Now I get to present to my students what the Pope actually said, show them the beauty of the truth he has proclaimed, and provide concrete evidence of how the media twists all things Pope and Catholic. I’d have to say that’s a good day for the New Evangelization. :-)

  93. Bosco says:

    Bosco è finito ora.

  94. Fr AJ says:

    Yes, more “holy lio.”

  95. inexcels says:

    Some of you people really need to learn that the Holy Father is not our enemy. The media is. Seriously, I’m a jaded cynic and some of you make me look like a blooming Polyanna. That is not a good place to be.

  96. Supertradmum says:

    inexcels did you read the article?

  97. cajuncath says:

    We should be cautious in pinning blame on the media. The media did not say these things; Pope Francis did.
    * The Church has [or has had] small-minded rules
    * We are prone to being obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed, and we need to find a new balance.
    * That new balance, apparently, means downplaying the public teaching regarding abortion, contraception, and homosexuality, compared to what it has been.
    * A very problematic council has yielded enormous fruits and a liturgical reform that has been a great service to the faithful.

    Doctrine remaining untouched is besides the point. How does a pope come to say such things? The fault lies not in our stars nor the media.

  98. SimonDodd says:

    frjim4321 says:
    “Think it’s another ‘pope on a plane’ moment with various forces on the right scrambling to send out a message that the pope didn’t say what the pope said.”

    Suppose that you had an employee who kept saying wildly, horrifyingly inappropriate things. And you sit down with the guy and you talk to him and you realize that actually, he doesn’t mean anything inappropriate at all. That comment about seamen that so offended Barbara? He really was talking about sailors on boats. The guy’s totally innocent. So you go around the office and you explain to everyone that, look, he doesn’t mean anything by it, he’s not actually saying anything offensive, even if it sounds that way. Honestly. Well, you might do that the first time. If you’re a saintly boss, you might do it the second or even third time. But, unless you’re an infernal boss, by the fourth time you’re going to be in a firing mood.

  99. pmullane says:

    Quanah, I think you hit the nail on the head. Pope Francis stirs these discussions and makes the news and gets people talking about the Church and we, humble and faithful servants that we are, can offer a truthful counterpoint to the media distortions, and bring a little of Christs love and truth to our neighbours who otherwise would have gone without. Pope Francis may not mean to make that happen, but I’m pretty sure someone more powerful than he does. And if it makes us uncomfortable having to have these conversations, well, tough.

  100. inexcels says:

    Supertradmum did you read my comment?

    I don’t get your question.

  101. pmullane says:

    SimonDodd, suppose you had a new boss who everyone had made a knee jerk reaction to dislike when they first saw him and so they believed every nonsensical story made up about him and gave his every comment the worst possible interpretation?

  102. Archer.2013 says:

    I’ve just (thankfully) said goodnight to a few friends after a several bottles of vino and an exhausting conversation about…you guessed it…Pope Francis’ interview. St0ries have been appearing all day about it on the net and I knew it would come up tonight. Pope Francis may feel that he is laying the foundations for dialogue and understanding between the Church and the world, but not a single one of my friends gets it. None of them are Catholic but they know I am and find my Catholicism very strange especially since they also know I’m gay. Catholicism, since I became one, has become interesting to them and is often discussed. These have been great opportunities for evangelisation. Who’d have thought it then that when Pope Benedict resigned his successor would provide the material that would undermine any progress I’d made with some of my non-Christian and non-Catholic friends. Apparently, according to them, today’s articles affirm that Church teaching on contraception, abortion and homosexuality are changing. Wow !?! Whatever the pope intended, I spent the evening dealing with the reality of his interview. How many people out there reading his interview will not even bother discussing it with a Catholic afterwards. Fr Z, you speak of the real Francis and the virtual Francis, but the net result of either one of them speaking is the same – a room full of people who are confident that their kooky take on Catholicsim is correct because they heard it from the pope. My friends seemed confused as to why I should remain celibate when Church teaching is, and I quote, “changing on the issue”. I, it seems, am at odds with the pope and out of step with the direction in which he is taking the Church, at least according to my friends. If we think Francis is laying the foundations for fruitful dialogue, we are kidding ourselves I’m afraid. His words might make sense to alot of thinking Catholics, but to all else he merely sows confusion and makes those who defend orthodoxy appear backwards and (oddly) un-orthodox (since we are out of step with the pope). We might like to blame the MSM for misrepresenting his message, but Francis background doesn’t easily lend itself to his being overly naive about the nature and machinations of the MSM. We can twist and contort ouselves as much as we like in order to fit Francis’ message into an orthodox agenda, but one has to wonder if we’re just kidding ourselves.

  103. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I have not (yet) read all the comments, so please excuse me if I am repeating someone else’s.

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

    Perhaps the weird CBS sentence partly bears this out about everyone being “perfectly clear”: “Pope Francis has warned that the Catholic Church’s moral structure might ‘fall like a house of cards’ if it doesn’t balance its divisive rules about abortion, gays and contraception with the greater need to make it a merciful, more welcoming place for all.” “Divisive rules” assumed to stay, somehow some ‘corrective’ “balance” to be added?

    And let’s give Fr Z’s “If…” full weight: maybe he will conclude that hammering the “perfectly clear” is distinctly “efficient” in certain circumstances.

    It got me wondering, have there ever been any particularly Cato-Maior-esque Popes, and if so, what did they repeat with the insistence of a “Carthago delenda est”? And how effectively, in terms of ‘practical’ results?

  104. Gretchen says:

    Imagine the books that will be written explaining and interpreting what Pope Francis meant on any given day of his pontificate. A veritable cottage industry has been born.

  105. benedetta says:

    Archer.2013, I’m sorry that you had to endure that feeling of humiliation with your non-Catholic friends. I am surprised that they would be so convinced that everything is going to change even from the headlines. I have given up on being surprised that the media doesn’t report on the Church accurately yet seems able to accurately capture all manner of other things. I think the best you could do for your friends at this point is to keep up with the evangelizing. I rather think that the approach that Pope Francis introduces is very conducive to that sort of evangelization — when friends are together, one doesn’t dwell on one another’s sin but encourages the good. It will take some time to sort out, but possibly over time your friends will come to regard your fidelity in a different light and recognize the value in it instead of asserting that you should change to suit their idea of what is correct.

  106. cwillia1 says:

    I am not interested in reading 12000 words from Pope Francis to find a way to reconcile what he says to established church teaching. The media is systematically twisting his words to create scandalous headlines. This is no surprise.

    Instead of judging Pope Francis we should look to ourselves. These problems stem directly from the cult of personality that has surrounded the papacy for the last 200 years. The Holy Spirit has never promised the Church popes of the caliber of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. We sit in our dioceses anxiously awaiting the latest teaching from Rome. But this is not the role of the Bishop of Rome. It is not to deepen the deposit of faith and it is not to pastor the world. It is certainly a wonderful thing when a pope does these things well. But the Bishop of Rome’s role in the universal church is to preserve the unity of the Church Militant and the integrity of its teaching. It is an incidental part of the modern papacy to appoint bishops and this role is important as well. As presently organized many Church functions are centralized in the Vatican. The Pope must attend to the Vatican.

    The media is interested in these thoughts of Pope Francis because they think and their customers think that Catholics’ actions hang on every casual thought that originates in Rome. We have given them reason to think this.

    I am sure that Pope Francis will come to understand that what he has said is being twisted and people are becoming confused. What he does about it is up to him.

  107. tcreek says:

    The Second Vatican Council:

    “Then there are particular issues, like the liturgy according to the Vetus Ordo. I think the decision of Pope Benedict [his decision of July 7, 2007, to allow a wider use of the Tridentine Mass] was prudent and motivated by the desire to help people who have this sensitivity. What is worrying, though, is the risk of the ideologization of the Vetus Ordo, its exploitation.”

    Huh? – “have this SENSITIVITY?” … “ideologization … exploitation …” of the Mass “is worrying”?

  108. tufty says:

    There was nothing in the Pope’s interview that surprised me. The Pope has been remarkably consistent in his tone and message throughout his short papacy. The Pope makes me feel very sad for Jesus. But, there is one thing that really struck me. The interviewer stated that the Pope had only a few statues at this desk. Out of all of the literally hundreds, maybe thousands, of images that the Pope might have selected to have surround him, he picked a statue of St. Joseph sleeping. Now, I have never seen or heard of this statue before in my life, and I am an old Catholic. But, the Pope talked about the gift of discernment. For those of you who can discern what is being conveyed with this information, I hope you find it comforting. I did.

  109. Archer.2013 says:

    I’m in no way humiliated. It was a fun evening all the same. My point is that my friends had a Catholic to talk to after reading what the press had to say about the interview. How many people out there don’t have that. Reading the text of the interview also (without MSM assistance) still leaves the non-Catholic pretty confused about what Francis is actually saying. His soundbites jump out and stick in the mind disconnected from their original text, his language is fluffly and confusing and even I have to re-read what he said to check if he really did say what I thought he did. Cleaning up after Francis though is becoming a bit of a chore and trying to wedge his message into an orthodox agenda is becoming increasingly difficult. I read and hear so many people saying “I think what the pope is saying is…” Maybe it’s time to start recognising that pope’s agenda isn’t one that entirely in keeping with the “reform of the reform” that we believe had got underway during the pontificate of Benedict. I know speaking about lengths of papacies if a little distasteful, but if a pontificate of ten to fifteen years is full of Francis’ interviews and off the cuff comments, do you think the net result will be a period of growth or a period of ongoing confusion both within and without the Church. Sadly, I’m beginning to believe the latter is going to be the case.

  110. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    I heard the reporting as done by CBS, I read your summary here, and I read the actual interview in the link you provided.

    CBS reporting is mostly false, and nowhere near what the Holy Father actually said. Thank-you Father “Z.”

    Thanks Be to G-d for this “pastor.”
    Lord, please, if everyone would actually READ what the Holy Father actually said.

  111. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: ideologization of the Vetus Ordo — He’s talking about weird situations, like the guys in France who tried to make the EF a Royalist thing. (Which is twice weird, because presumably Royalists would prefer the Gallican Rite to any newbie thing that came to France after the kings were gone.)

  112. Archer.2013 says:

    If you want to see how Francis’ words are being understood by those outside the Church look at the comments section at the bottom of this article, and also the votes given to the comments by other readers. The MSM might twist the words, but Francis is providing the fuel.

  113. Katylamb says:

    What the pope said, he said. Only be sure to read what he actually said. He has not said anything that contradicts Church teaching. I see no reason to get all aflutter about what the press has to say. Anyone who really cares will find out what the pope said, in context, because from what I’ve seen, very few people trust MSM anymore.
    Frankly, we are in charge of nobody’s soul but our own since all have free will, so I will focus on being the best Catholic I can be and try to pray for and influence others too.
    SuperTradMum: I am proud to call myself a sheep. That is what Jesus called us. It’s all about trust. I trust Jesus, my good Shepherd, and I trust our earthly shepherd too.

  114. benedetta says:

    Archer.2013, OK, I hear you. My feeling is that this pontificate is still very new to be able to determine what the focus, or, agenda might be. This was a 6 months on interview. Given the circumstances of the change over, not sure one could expect a fully developed plan at this time. Pope Benedict was at JPII’s right hand for a long period of time, and as a theologian had time and opportunity to develop a focus. Perhaps there is no agenda. I don’t think necessarily that the conclusion is inevitably that therefore there is a drastically different agenda. Younger and newer Catholics are often attached to the direction they perceive in a pontificate they are familiar with. Then there are Catholics around who have lived through a number of pontificates and world events, just as committed as a Catholic as they ever were. For my part, although I have certainly read the worry and grumbling, I have really only seen growth and encouragement among the Catholic community, in a direction which is wholly consistent with orthodoxy, not the other way around. I hope it goes this way for you as well.

  115. demigh says:

    I agree very strongly with the comments by Bruce Wayne. And I must say I am thoroughly dismayed by most of those here who express worry, doubt, disappointment, and in general have gotten their knickers in such a twist over what Pope Francis said in his interview. Not one of us has any control over what the media or non-Catholics or anyone else takes away from this interview-no control–NONE. Get over it. Virtual Pope/Real Pope–bah!

    Pope Francis has not said one single thing that is against dogma. And, as Fr Z noted, church teaching on abortion, contraception, homosexuality, etc etc, are plainly out there for all the world to see. Repeating these teachings ad naseum to those who have closed their ears will not achieve anything. What this pope is so very adept at is stirring up the pot. And maybe, just maybe, it’s a pot badly in need of stirring. Listen to what he said:

    “We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity. “… the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful;” “Heal the wounds, heal the wounds…. And you have to start from the ground up.” “…like the good Samaritan, who washes, cleans and raises up his neighbor.” “does he (God) endorse the existence of this (homosexual) person with love, or reject and condemn this person?” “Proclamation focuses on essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn.” “Finding God in all things is not an ‘empirical eureka.’…A contemplative attitude is necessary” “Profound peace, spiritual consolation, love of God and love of all things in God – this is the sign that you are on this right path.” “The correct attitude is that of St. Augustine: seek God to find him, and find God to keep searching for God forever.”

    These are the word of our pope, our shepherd. Listen to him, take his instruction to heart, and then get to work. Please, faithful Catholics, have just one iota of trust in the Holy Spirit who is undoubtedly working through this pope.

  116. Athelstan says:

    Hello Suburbanbanshee,

    Re: ideologization of the Vetus Ordo — He’s talking about weird situations, like the guys in France who tried to make the EF a Royalist thing. (Which is twice weird, because presumably Royalists would prefer the Gallican Rite to any newbie thing that came to France after the kings were gone.)

    Given his fairly hostile relationship with traditionalists in Buenos Aires (which, to be fair, seems not to have been entirely his fault), I suspect he’s casting a somewhat broader net than that.

    Ideologization can certainly take multiple forms, and yes, there’s a segment of the traditional world (especially online) that can fall into the trap of making it all into a kind of political exercise. The frustration I have is that there’s certainly been a similar ideologization with the Pauline Missal, and its effects are more far reaching because, obviously, the New Mass is a far bigger part of the life of the Church, and has been for 43 years. That’s especially true for those on the left for whom theology is reduced to exercises in power within the Church, and a progressive materialist agenda beyond it. Being content with the state of the liturgy in the N.O. as it is, more or less, I suspect he’s less sensitive to that reality.

  117. SimonDodd says:

    pmullane says:
    SimonDodd, suppose you had a new boss who everyone had made a knee jerk reaction to dislike when they first saw him and so they believed every nonsensical story made up about him and gave his every comment the worst possible interpretation?

    A poor analogy in my case. I defended Card. Bergoglio’s record on the EF, in these pages and elsewhere, because it seemed to me that the critics had failed to adduce credible evidence of his supposed hostility to the EF. I was not on board with the Rorate Coeli thesis at first; I came around to it because Francis’ own behavior. If you’ve ever had a new boss to whom a small minority in the office had a strongly-negative reaction while everyone else had a strongly-positive reaction, you’ll know that reasonable people wait and see. But six months is long enough to see some patterns.

    I have thought about my hostility to Francis, and I conclude that it comes in two parts. The first, more elemental, immediate, and visceral hostility is the product of a straightfoward culture clash: I am an old-fashioned, academic, bookish, introvert who was trained as an Englishman; Pope Francis is South American. This was always going to be Tom and Jerry at best. South American culture is everything I find repellent—loud, boisterous, colorful, over-familiar, etc. But my conclusion from six months of this pontificate is that Francis is not simply a product of his culture; he is crass, inarticulate, inerudite, and extremely parochial; his priorities are not my priorities, his concerns are not my concerns, and week by week, soundbite by soundbite, he is styling himself the leader of a church that I do not recognize. He is my pope; I will adhere to his magisterium and everything else proper to his office. But those things that we voluntarily afford a pope out of personal respect or affection? Fuhggedaboudit.

  118. goodone121 says:

    @ltc, look at the comments of the Yahoo! article-they are absolutely blasting Nicole Winfield and Rachel Zoll!

  119. michelekc says:

    Elizabeth Scalia (aka the @Anchoress) wrote a piece that was picked up by the Washington Post yesterday in which she refers to this “virtual Francis” as an idol that the media have created of him.

  120. otsowalo says:

    Just one comment, Fr. Z: a Jesuit who becomes a Pope, does not cease to be a Jesuit; just like Pope Pius V did not cease to be a Dominican. This goes with all the other Popes who were also Religious.

  121. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Take a deep breath everyone.

    God allowed a Jesuit to be chosen as Pope.
    This Jesuit is (among many other things) not unfamiliar with a hostile media.
    People are writing about the Church more and more, and some day the news story will be “News media accurately report Catholic teaching”. Until that day, keep the parkas in storage, but don’t give them away.

    America magazine published an interview with the Pope? Accurately? Wow. People who read America magazine will now have the chance to read what the Pope actually said. Can that be a bad thing? Eventually — and I don’t know how long — the lost sheep the Holy Father is trying to reach will see that they’ve been fed lies by the media outlets they read.

  122. demigh says:

    May I suggest this blog post written by Stephen White entitled “Old, Good News” for a reasoned, reassuring, and balanced view of what Pope Francis is teaching us:

  123. Pingback: Pope Francis, the big interview, reveals Pope Francis is… a Jesuit. Lord have mercy. | Catholic Xray, a penetrating view of modern Catholicism

  124. asperges says:

    I expected to read another example of things with which I disagreed or felt very unhappy with. I have been feeling very isolated since the demise of our beloved Benedict who gave us a period of calm and reassurance. Here, I felt was this new broom determined to sweep away all he had achieved. The celeb status didn’t help. But I have read the article in full and Fr Z’s interpretation, and the above comments.

    I do not see a man who does not want to rub out the past, nor deconstruct the Church, but he leaves himself open by this willingness to communicate so frequently and speak off the cuff to misinterpretation. I disagree with his views on liturgy and cannot reconcile his enthusiasm for the very things that I think brought the Church to its knees, namely Vatican ii, the liturgical reform and its aftermath and liberalism which came from it.

    But then, I am not Pope (thank God). Far from seeking out every possible opportunity to find a nuance here and a nuance there which displeases us, I think we have to swallow our pride a little. Praying for this Pope will do a great deal more good than allowing ourselves to be outraged by what he said or didn’t say or might have said. The press will have its way and reach the conclusions it pleases. They don’t occupy the seat of Peter, the Pope does.

  125. Larry said,

    “People will choose to hear what they want to hear, and will interpret the Pope’s words however suits them best. “

    exactly. They did this to some extent with Blessed John Paul II and they went to town on the bus with Pope Benedict the XVI

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  128. Kevin says:

    Re: “Re-Married”, Penitent Woman
    [If a confessor is involved at this point in her life then that is because she is confessing the sin she committed in procuring an abortion and for her parts or failures if any in the breakup of the marriage. Those are diseases or wounds that need healing. What does the confessor do? He HEALS, first by absolving the sincerely confessed sin, and also by talking of God’s love and mercy. He reconciles the women with the society of the Church as well.

    Absolution is impossible of any sin, unless she is intending to pursue a life of chastity.

  129. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    I have carefully read these posts and threads and prayerfully reflected on them.

    My darling “father”, JPII the Great, now in Heaven, will always be “my” Pope. And I know and believe with all my heart that JPII would want me to imitate the Desert Fathers in humility and in abandonment to the will of God.

    The Desert Fathers’ approach, I believe, would be to say, “Why not be open to the good and the wise things that this or any Pope says? Unless he has proved himself to be a criminal, why not give him the benefit of the doubt? And unless he positively and unequivocally contradicts an element of the holy deposit of the Faith, why not give him your loyalty – loyalty in the form of thinking and speaking well of him, and praying for him?”

    “The only possible reason not to do so,” the Fathers of the Desert, “would be your attachment to your own will, your own desires, and your own appetites.”

    “It is noble to hold steadfastly to your will, insofar as your will is united to the will of God. However, all weak and fallen humanity must continually guard against inordinate attachment to one’s own will, one’s own appetites, which however holy and righteous the contents may be, the Evil One may stir up our passions around them, passions such as anger and pride concerning them, when things don’t go our own way.”

    “The important thing above all is the will of God. Humility and surrender.”

    “Evidence of your inordinate attachment to own will, your own desires, and your own appetites ,” the Fathers would add, “would include your own willingness to “write off” the Holy Father Bergoglio altogether – make him “dead to you” in your mind, and consign him to the graveyard in your heart – because he doesn’t support the traditional Mass, or because you have judged that he speaks too often, that he speaks too off the cuff, that he lacks polish, that he appeases the liberals too much, that he isn’t very erudite, that he’s from a culture you don’t care for, that he won’t come out as being foursquare in your corner as to the culture wars within the Church. Any of these so-called reasons to write-off the man that Divine Providence has placed as Chief Shepherd, and your refusal to be shepherded by him, indicates your attachment to your own will.”

    “By all means,” they might conclude, “continue to work for TLM and other elements of traditional Catholic spirituality, as you have always done. And forgive the Pope if it appears to you that he is not in your corner on these initiatives. Continue to support him in the remaining areas, nonetheless; continue to pray for him; do not complain. Whether you see it or not, Divine Providence has everything well in hand.”

    “Trust your efforts to Our Lady, who will never fail.”

    As it hath pleased THE LORD, so let it be done. Blessed be the Name of THE LORD.

  130. JacobWall says:

    It amazes me how quickly people have forgotten about this:

    The whole issue of the media distortions and “the Church is changing its teachings” reactions is identical.

    While that was only 3 years ago, and Pope Francis is certainly having more of such moments, I think the world is becoming more internet focused each year, and that’s *part* of the reason these things are becoming more common; information can get into the hands of the media faster, be distorted and be spread accross facebook and blogs faster.

    Fortunately we also have Fr. Z who can react faster to tell us What Pope Francis Really Said. Thank you again!

  131. RJHighland says:

    The fires of hell will not over come the Church despite of Pope Francis. This is not even funny anymore. The Pope must speak clearly so he can not be misinterpreted. How on God’s green earth can we evangelize to the truth when the head of the Church is giving the enemies of the Church fuel for their arguments. Where is he leading the Church? Fr. Z you are bend’en like Beckom to make sense out of what Pope Francis is saying these days, good luck you have a tough job making his words fit into Catholic teaching. I am personnally tired of trying to explain him so I will just say to people I have no idea what he is talking about but explain what the Catholic Church has taught over time. What ever he says unless he speaks from the See of Peter and dictates on morals and doctrine his words are meaningless to me. This Pope sadly is quickly becoming a good argument for the sedivacantests. I would be nice to have a Pope with a backbone, we need Peter, I don’t know what we have now, but I think he is the Pope we deserve not the Pope that we need because he is telling the majority of the people that call themselves Catholics what they want to hear.

  132. bourgja says:

    After a careful reading of this interview, I have identified the source of many of our misgivings about Pope Francis. He is flirting with a kind of process theology, in which God reveals himself in new ways through history, and “changes” over time. This is the meaning of his cryptic sayings about time/processes being liberating and space being crystallized/ossified (which idea was also inserted into the encyclical on faith).

    Popes John Paul II and Benedict both emphasized the eternal and immutable truths of God’s revelation, which are often counter-cultural. John Paul offered a natural law personalism which emphasized the dignity of the human person, grounded in creation and the Incarnation, while Benedict offered a Neo-platonic view of revelation in which timeless expressions of truth, goodness, and beauty lead to a deeper experience of the one God.

    If Pope Francis prefers a developing notion of God’s revelation (as his rejection of older forms of liturgy and theology suggest), then we can expect to see many changes in the Church based on this notion. I predict the implementation of a permanent synod of bishops to be the first major change. I just hope that there will be no changes in matters of faith or morals that would create an unprecedented crisis in the Church.

  133. Pnkn says:


  134. Supertradmum says:

    Fr. Z., can we go back to this Italian word, “prudenziale”? This does not always mean prudential as in English would mean prudent, as is good and timely. It can also mean careful or cautious. If this is what the Pope meant, it may mean that Pope Francis sees the SP as an effort to stem the tide of popularity of the SSPX or further disaffection of the traditionals? Or, it could mean, as in cautious, a putting out of a velvet glove to see how this would be received by the Church at large. I am not happy about the vagueness. What do you think after a few days of “hmmmm?

  135. Supertradmum says:

    sorry this may be the wrong thread, but can we discuss this?

  136. yzerman123 says:

    An unfortunate irony of Pope Francis’ emphasis on a more positive message is that the ambiguity with which he is proclaiming it is causing such confusion that it forces the rest of the Church to re-assert the “negative” side that he wants us to de-emphasize. So we’re writing blog posts about how the Pope really didn’t change any teaching, that abortion and homosexual behaviour are still wrong, etc. We need to pray fervently that his delivery becomes more precise.

  137. KingofCharity says:

    Exactly, you hit the nail on the head regarding the emphasis. Any time we talk about shifting our tone, focus, emphasis, and the way we deliver the message, we, first and foremost, must reiterate very clearly and precisely what the message is that we’re trying to repackage and present in a new way. The irony has not gone unnoticed. I agree, the pope needs to quell the anxieties of the orthodox Catholics by re-affirming the doctrinal orthodoxy of his positions.

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