Not everything is “Rah! Rah! Francis!”, even in the MSM

There is a lot of energy swirling around and about the Holy Father’s visit to Cuba and, soon, to these United States.  I’ve already heard MSM hype about how Francis is the pretty much the first Pope who has ever smiled or kiss a baby.  As a matter of fact, he is the first Pope who has ever thought about poor or who has been nice.  He is the most wonderfulest fluffiest Pope ehvur.  He’s not like mean old Benedict!  He was harsh and Francis is humble!

This is going to get really tiresome.

Meanwhile, not everything is “Rah! Rah! Francis!”, even in the MSM.  It is good to know what they are saying as well.

First, check out George Will at WaPo.  All I can say is brutal.   His piece seems to be a preemptive strike not just against Francis and what he might say to Congress and to the UN about environmentalism and capitalism, but against the lib dems who will try to coopt Francis for cynical political reasons.   The libs will accuse Will of shilling for the GOP, but I don’t think that that is what he is doing.

Pope Francis’ fact-free flamboyance

Pope Francis embodies sanctity but comes trailing clouds of sanctimony. With a convert’s indiscriminate zeal, he embraces ideas impeccably fashionable, demonstrably false and deeply reactionary. They would devastate the poor on whose behalf he purports to speak — if his policy prescriptions were not as implausible as his social diagnoses are shrill.


Pretty rough stuff.

We don’t, by the way, have to accept Will’s simplification of the science and Gallileo issue or about medieval economies.

Next comes something from the Weekly Standard by Jonathan V. Last.

Pope Francis: Menace or Farce?

Back in 1999, The Weekly Standard ran one of my favorite cover lines ever: The New Europe: Menace or Farce? I often think of that question when I watch Pope Francis.

It’s only been two and a half years since Francis assumed the chair of St. Peter, yet he’s already compiled an entire dossier’s worth of . . . interesting . . . incidents.

For instance, the Holy Father seems to have a habit of appearing to endorse all sorts of left-wing political causes. There was the time he posed with environmental activists holding an anti-fracking T-shirt. And the time he posed for pictures holding a crucifix made from a hammer and a sickle. And the time he held up a poster calling for the British to hand the Falkland Islands back to Argentina. In each instance, the official Vatican response has been to suggest that Francis didn’t mean to endorse anything because he’ll pretty much smile and pick up anything you hand him, like some sort of consecrated Ron Burgundy.


While this piece also indicts the Pope’s handlers, the bucks land on the Pontiff’s desk.

Anyway… it is good to know what else is going on, apart from the cloying sweet stuff.

The moderation queue is definitely ON.

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  1. juergensen says:

    When John Paul and Benedict (and Mother Theresa) visited the U.S., I eagerly anticipated what they had to say to our decadent culture, and followed the news closely. Today, I can’t bring myself to watch or read anything about Francis’ visit, afraid of another “Who am I to judge?” moment. I think I’ll watch football.

  2. Gerard Plourde says:

    “We don’t, by the way, have to accept Will’s simplification of the science and Gallileo issue or about medieval economies.”

    This is true since Mr. Will, as a self-described, “amiable, low-voltage athiest” probably has heard a lifetime’s worth of misinformation concerning both subjscts.

  3. pelerin says:

    MSM? I have looked it up and all I can find is ‘methylsulfonylmethane!’ I’m sorry but many of the American initals which are obviously familiar in the US mean nothing to us over the pond.

  4. GAK says:

    “Nearly everyone I spoke to in Cordoba encouraged me to interview the Rev. Angel Rossi, a man Pope Francis refers to as his “spiritual son” …. Bergoglio accepted Rossi into the Society of Jesus in 1976, when the former was provincial. By Rossi’s estimation, they lived under the same roof for seven or eight years.

    I asked him to describe Bergoglio.

    If you know him well, that’s almost impossible, Rossi answered.

    He is humble but confident, a disciplined rule-breaker. He is quiet but freely speaks his mind. He is deeply spiritual, but crafty — a cross between a desert saint and a shrewd politician. He is a man of power and action, who spends a great deal of time in prayer and contemplation.”

  5. GAK says:

    I thought the “crafty” description was interesting.

    Also, when CNN can’t get their leading religion journalist to learn the basic ABC’s of Catholicism, so as not to make basic gaffes throughout an article, it leaves all their other journalism suspect, too.

  6. Macgawd says:

    I’ve had the sense for a while now that His Holiness Pope Francis is either completely out of his depth on the various sociopolitical subjects he chooses to preach, or is rube being manipulated by certain factions within the Church to push a certain agenda. Or, perhaps the latter, because of the former. Either way, as the article states, the buck stops with Francis.

  7. sacerdos97 says:

    Today in my homily I asked the folks to make a daily offering first thing every morning to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary of NOT hyper ventilating when they read something about what Pope Francis supposedly said. My point was to caution folks about not succumbing to the “papacy of the media” by ignoring (by and large) what the journalists are saying (even Catholic ones) and paying attention to what he is doing.

  8. Akita says:

    I cannot bear to read the spin. Will try to tune it all out and get my updates from WDTPRS, Rorate and the Eponymous Flower. They are my “Go To” Trifecta.

  9. Gratias says:

    Pope Francis is giving wonderful political support to fellow travelers. Raul Castro congratulated the Pope for denouncing the evils of Capitalism and asked for the return of our the Guantanamo naval base today. Barack H. Obama has a great political wedge issue with the Encyclically-approved man-made Global Warming, increase in salinity and levels of the Ocean. Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations was given the opportunity to reduce human population to 2 billion from a peak of 7 billion under the sustainable humanity goals. All this while the band plays on on homosexuality, divorce and abortion. Amazingly, it is US capitalists who have contributed billions and billions to the Sunday collection plates of the Church.

  10. Akita says:

    Does Pope Francis carry a ” crow’s ear”? Remember when the Mainstream Media got “crozier” wrong, I believe, during Pope Benedict’s visit? Handy item, that “crow’s ear”, eh?

  11. Akita says:

    Perhaps they thought, subconsciously, that the crozier resembled a cochlea of the middle ear–but still, “crow’s ear”!

  12. majuscule says:

    pelerin (and others unfamiliar with USA shorthand acronyms) — MSM stands for MainStream Media.

  13. benedetta says:

    When the Holy Father attends the obligatory reception at the White House, which of course is of low priority in pastoral terms, as it is all about partisan politics there and generally a hostile one which has been happy these several years to foment anti Catholic bigotry for various ends and short term greed/vote/pork special interest, I hope that he asks the elitists of the lobbies arrayed, why have they founded their needs on the backs of innocent children held for slaughter? What difference does it ultimately make to their personal political interests if we support life? Why have they attached the premium on most abortions and loss of innocent life in the womb of children delivered to their aims and goals? Why do they hate life? I hope he asks them. I am curious myself as to the reasons. To me it is inexplicable, their obsession with the most abortion possible, into tens of millions and to the tune of dismemberment of living babies on the table.

  14. Kathleen10 says:

    We aren’t watching much for the same reasons many are not watching. Fear.
    It’s hard to know who is who, even EWTN doesn’t know who is who, but the group of possible Cuban “dissidents”, otherwise known in the world as “a group of ladies”, were pretty much passed by with a wave. However, Pope Francis looks beyond exhausted. It’s scary to watch him, actually.
    Oh, and Pelerin, “MSM” is “mainstream media”.

  15. Benedict Joseph says:

    Those in the media able and willing to tackle this are to be applauded – not something I am known to render them. Given that clerics are too vulnerable to a vindictive retaliatory current amongst the left-wing hierarchy to survive its cruel and self-serving scrutiny, laity who can must raise their voice as uncomfortable and painful as that is.
    The difficulty Pope Francis, his administrative colleagues and his broader group of hierarchical and clerical supporters present are the result of forcing a heterodox and unreasonable agenda they mask as orthodox and enlightened. It is neither and this duplicity breeds confusion, though it is not the only cause of the confusion, they simply aren’t smart enough to pull it off. Roman Catholics respectful of the Magisterium have been well educated by the heterodox, both locally and on the wider stage during the last fifty years. They trust their sense of smell when it catches on to something “unpleasant.” We are in the crunch the Bergoglio camp intended. How do those adhering to the Magisterium maintain their loyalty to the papacy while calling it out for perceived duplicity? This indeed is a conundrum. I haven’t solved it personally and it appears many others haven’t either, but calling a spade a spade can be regarded as an honest attempt at a solution.

  16. Aquinas Gal says:

    I’m feeling a sort of dread about this visit. I am disheartened that the Pope has not spoken out in Cuba in favor of all those Catholics and others who have been persecuted by the Castro regime. I can only imagine what he will say to Congress. I just want to get away from all the Francis hype and will read my St. Thomas instead.

  17. Arele says:

    In advance of the Pope’s upcoming visit, I just read The Rigging of a Vatican Synod (found on Fr. Z’s blog here:

    Whoa, that’s some scary stuff! I feel like I just lost my innocence – in a good way though. It’s good to know the truth.

    A must read. You will have few questions left unanswered after reading this revealing book.

    I will be viewing the pope’s visit through a clear lens now…not to mention the upcoming synod in October. And praying a LOT!

  18. donato2 says:

    I’m with juergensen’s post. I can’t bear to read the press coverage of Pope Francis –not because it is inaccurate but because, often, it is.

    If the world loves the pope, the pope must be doing something wrong.

  19. Bosco says:

    There is an insightful piece just now posted by Maureen Mullarkey in ‘First Things’ on-line. The article is titled ” “CLOWARD-PIVEN GOES TO ROME” and throws some real roundhouse punches at the ‘rah rah’ crowd. Well worth thoughtful reflection.

  20. TheDude05 says:

    I read a comment on Facebook in regards to the White House visit that made me laugh and also really hope. Based on the list of invitees the commenter suggested the Pope should walk in, put on his purple stole, and say “I will be hearing Confession for the next three hours.”. The commenter suggested that ought to clear the room, the hope I found is what if people actually had a conversion of heart if he did do that.

  21. CatholicMD says:

    Arele – I had the same reaction after reading the book. What little trust I had in the human element of the Church has decreased to zero. I guess it’s good to have both eyes open.

  22. marcelus says:

    there are also some pieces that talk about the Pope in a good light too. Might want to comment on those maybe? not only the critical ones.

  23. Pingback: 10 Reasons Why Pope Francis Is Important for Politics - Big Pp

  24. Phil_NL says:

    By now, it is pretty clear that His Holiness doesn’t give a …. about how his actions are perceived. If he says something, with a slight political touch, he can be sure that it will be amplified by a factor 10 or more, the message hijacked by others, but he’ll say it anyway. He’ll even make it easy on them, if the mood takes him.

    Part of it is no doubt the price you have to pay for doing things differently, for being refreshing. Part of it is no doubt the consequence of having spent a lifetime in Argentina, which is politically and economically dysfunctional on many fronts. Part of it may derive from other sources. It doesn’t really matter. The consequences do matter.

    And the consequence is that one of these days, Francis will realise he has preciously little credit left in huge chunks of the West. The left has, at that stage, been using him for years, which doesn’t create respect nor goodwill. The right has (rightly or wrongly, that’s immaterial as to the consequences) concluded the Catholic Church has finally become the umpteenth NGO. Catholics will have to live with that, non-Catholics don’t.
    This means the first group will be facing the difficult situation of deciding, on a case by case basis, what falls in the category of prudential judgement, and therefore doesn’t bind, or what doesn’t. Combined with hearing left-wing lunacies from plenty of bishops over the last decades, it will help create generations of catholics who dismiss anything coming from their bishops.
    The latter group will just give up on the Church, most likely. Is that bad? In terms of the culture wars it definitely is. In other areas, it will be less consequential.
    Then, is it all bad? The Church may even save some souls that otherwise wouldn’t have been, as there is plenty of work to do that on the left side of the field as well. But here, I strongly suspect that more damage, also in terms of souls, will be done on the other side.

    I pray the church becomes more politically risk averse: only pronounce on faith and morals, and not on items that consist of prudential judgement – or even where there is a pretty big mass delusion leading vast majorities astray (such as, in my opinion, global warming).

  25. pelerin says:

    Thanks majuscule and Kathleen10 – and there was I thinking MSM must be the name of an American newspaper or magazine!

  26. cwillia1 says:

    George Will is not right about everything but he does us a service. We need to get beyond the obsession with covering up this pope’s inadequacies.

  27. JimRB says:

    Sometimes I think we are too quick – far too quick, to judge the papacy of our Holy Father. We also use the media as our “information” for these judgments, nine times out of ten. It is true that we have had poor popes in the past, and I suspect we are not so near the end times that we won’t have another (could be wrong on the timing!). Pope Francis, however, has not completed his papacy yet and has also not shown himself to be a poor pope. A poor press secretary, for sure, but that isn’t necessary to be the Holy Father. He makes us uncomfortable because he challenges us and we don’t like it, so it’s easier to armchair quarterback his media mistakes and spend our time analyzing which of his statements we are obliged to accept vs those we don’t have to and those we can publicly challenge.

    I think Fr Z will be proven well and right in the end. This society will loathe Pope Francis – they will claim it is because he didn’t end up supporting homosexuality, or that he is against the murder of children, but I think deep down (and probably not consciously) society will hate him and twist his words because we are the richest people in the world, and he is calling us to be poor. It’s easier to mock him and throw out the legitimate uses of air conditioning than to ponder the comfort and ease our abundant money has provided to the majority of us, and put that in contrast with the poorest of the world.

  28. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Try this for complexity:

    Fr. Z is not referring to “a medical and social research designation”, nor “a political party in Mauritius”, but to the use “in discussion of the mass media and media bias” for which Wikipedia also has equivalent Arabic, Norwegian, Portuguese, and Spanish articles – the latter with its own standard abbreviation, MCD – which is perhaps what springs first to the Holy Father’s mind.

  29. Scott W. says:

    I am pleased the Holy Father called for successful peace negotiations in Colombia without meeting the FARC leaders, the last bona fide Marxist insurgency left in the world thankfully on its last legs.

  30. Traductora says:

    I share the feeling of dread expressed by many of the other commentators. The WSJ had a section on the Pope’s visit today entitled “A Progressive’s Pilgrimage,” so I’d say most of the journalists already have him pegged. And Mary Anastasia O’Grady, their excellent writer on the Latin American world, wrote about the terrible disappointment and discouragement that will be felt by faithful Catholics in Cuba if, after the Pope’s love-fest with Fidel, he continues to refuse to meet with the dissenters from Marxism (the Women in White, for example). Actually, most of them were rounded up and detained when his visit began, so I guess he doesn’t even have to be discomfited by their presence.

    He supposedly discussed climate change and the evils of capitalism with Fidel, and then when he gave a talk to some clergy and young people, he managed to get through the whole thing without mentioning God even once. Instead he gave them a warm and fuzzy talk about self-fulfillment and being good citizens (what, of a corrupt, cruel regime?). I think we can expect more of the same when he comes here.

  31. AnnTherese says:

    Main stream or not, all media spins to their liking. And, every pope has had fans and detractors. Nothing new here, except that that this Pope’s detractors were the last Pope’s fans, and vice versa. When it’s too much to bear, shut it off and spend some quiet time reading the Gospels.

    GAK, I thought Rossi’s description of the pope was beautiful and very human. “Crafty” doesn’t alarm me– see Mt 10.16 –Jesus tells his followers they will need to be shrewd.

  32. LarryW2LJ says:

    I really hate this White House thing and the fact that the focus of this visit is on the politics. Yes, I know that the Pope is leader of a City-State …… but can’t it be just about the Holy Father coming to visit his flock in the US without all the other nonsense?

    I’m not a big fan of some of Pope Francis’ politics. But he IS the Pope and I hate this “He’s on our side – NO, he’s on OUR side” drivel.

    Can we concentrate on the poor without the Left bashing capitalism, or the Right decrying that the Pope is a Socialist? Can we concentrate on being good stewards of the earth without smashing environmentalism down our throats? Can we hear something about the importance of the Sacraments, saying the rosary and going to Mass?

    And if you HAVE to talk about political issues, how about the abomination of selling murdered baby parts? How about the plight of the Middle East Catholics and other Christians? How about REALLY “calling a spade a spade” and a no-nonsense denouncing Radical Islam? How about saying something about how God created each person just as they are, and how He loves you just how you are, and about how messed up all this trans-genderism stuff is and how messed up this obsession with sexual identity is?

    That’s the stuff I’d like to hear about on this visit.

  33. Magash says:

    So I was watching Fox News’ weekend show. They had a number of young people from Catholic schools who had been selected to meet the Holy Father when he visits the U.S. They went on about how inclusive he was and how he was the First Pope ev-aaah to reach out to youth and all I could think about was the 5 million young people who gathered in Manila in 1995 to see St. John Paul II and the 1.5 million who spent the 2011 World Youth Day in Madrid with Benedict XVI. Then I though about how absolutely clueless a Catholic School education in the U.S. had left these young people who were only marginally culpable for their lack of understanding.

  34. SKAY says:

    I watched the Chris Wallace interview with Cardinal Wuerl and Father Rosica. The word pastoral was used quite a bit as an explanation when questioned about what seems to be the Pope’s more political statements and intentions.. It is not political but instead it is pastoral. They did not seem to agree with the person in the Vatican who expressed concern with some of the questionable guests invited to the White House reception to meet the Pope. In fact they sounded a lot like President Obama’s press secretary when asked the same question at a press conference. It is just a few among many so no big deal( so to speak). Father Rosica thinks that the person who leaked the information should not remain anonymous.
    I will try to avoid the news as much as possible.

  35. gracie says:

    Priests from the Archdiocese of New York have been on the airwaves explaining away the fact that Pope Francis will be saying Mass in Spanish when he’s in Washington D.C. They only can be doing this to deflect from the negative political reality such an act will engender. Their defense – that, after all, it’s the Pope’s native language – doesn’t hold water as the Pope easily could say Mass in Latin and avoid the appearance of taking sides in an internal political debate taking place right now in the U.S. But, of course, saying Mass in Latin would suggest that the Pope supports the use of the official language of the Latin Rite and we wouldn’t want that, would we?

  36. Charlotte Allen says:

    I could swear George Will was an Episcopalian. Has he “moved on”?

  37. TomG says:

    Ms. Allen: He has apparently described himself as an “amiable, low-voltage atheist.” I believe, yes, has “moved on.”

  38. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Charlotte Allen,

    Mr. Will described himself in those terms in a May 2014 interview with the Daily Caller. The interview doesn’t state how long he’s been such nor does it give background as to what, if any, faith he was raised in.

  39. pelerin says:

    Thanks Venerator! I am always amused when I type in kto (for the French Catholic tv station) and one of the options is the Korea Tourism Organization in London!

  40. Akita says:

    My heart is breaking at reading the translation of the pope’s speech to the Cuban youth. Truly stale crumbs–an incoherent mess. Those poor kids are suffering, and not a word about Jesus from Papa.

  41. Akita says:

    Gracie, I’ve heard that Pope Francis does not know Latin. Therefore he would not say the TLM.

  42. marcelus says:

    Phil_NL says:
    21 September 2015 at 2:12 AM
    “And the consequence is that one of these days, Francis will realise he has preciously little credit left in huge chunks of the West.”

    What planet migtht that be??

    Little credit left? So maybe the 3rd world or the chucks of land bellow the equador ( accounts for more than 50% of catholics!) may not count in your view or you are are missing part of the world in your map.

  43. stephen c says:

    There are more poor people in America today than there were during the Depression, despite the hard work of their fellow Americans (and, often, despite the hard work of the poor). There are tens of thousands of American Catholics who have taken vows of poverty. Most of the country hosts, somewhere on the edge of town (or even somewhere well within the town) immense untraceable sad graveyards of abortion victims, and a substantial percentage of people you see in public every day are personally childless, or are not grandparents, or are not even just aunts and uncles, due to that evil scourge, and in spite of their prayers against the heavily promoted (by our local Che Guevaras) evil of abortion. Good humble American Catholics have suffered from some of the most privileged and unkind bishops in the history of the Church, almost without complaint. The good people of America have taken in more permanent refugees than the rest of the world combined, and many of those refugees now call themselves American. Pope Francis is familiar with these contradictory facts; he is not likely coming here with the intention to insult “Americans”. That being said, no matter what he says, in no matter what country, it can be misconstrued. I hope God blesses him and guides him well in his speaking, so that he brings many of my fellow Americans to the Church of our Lord, and, against human expectation, makes few feel insulted and capriciously unwanted. If he stumbles, as he has before, and he is human, so it is a real possibility that he will stumble again, I pray he will soon be forgiven. He would fervently pray for me, if I asked, and I will pray for him.

  44. Phil_NL says:


    Like or not, in terms of deciding where this world goes to, the name of the game is, and will remain, the West. In terms of technological impact, economy and culture, I’d say the US counts for 50% of the global direction, Europe for another 20%, then a bit Asia, and Latin America and Africa are in this sense rounding errors. Don’t expect the next genetics revolution, a major moral challenge, to come from the third world, for example.

    That doesn’t mean that the people there aren’t important, any soul is a precious to the Lord as the next. But if you want to change the world, in whatever direction, Argentina isn’t the place that will carry the rest forward (or backwards), nor the rest of the developing world.

    And this is the inherent paradox of Francis papacy: the Church is made to be seen as an agent of change. Yet by creating that image, it actually will loose what little grip it has on those areas where the world is in fact changed.

  45. robtbrown says:

    Akita says:

    Gracie, I’ve heard that Pope Francis does not know Latin. Therefore he would not say the TLM.

    He entered the SJs in 1958 and made vows two years later. Every priest in that generation studied Latin. It is likely that he also studied Greek and a bit of Hebrew.

  46. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    An interesting sketch of the Holy Father as insufficiently “crafty”:

    A sample:

    “Christian communities in the Middle East are being exterminated as we speak. Islamist groups are torturing them to death, or into forced conversions to Islam. Christians who aren’t killed or enslaved are being driven from homes they have occupied for the better part of two thousand years. Why isn’t the Pope wholly focused on this existential crisis of both humanity and Christianity, instead of wading into the fever swamps of politicized science to hold forth on global warming?”

    Nice nuance: “wholly focused” implicitly acknowledges his attention, while questioning his sense of proportion in this regard.

  47. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    I think one or another of Pope Francis’s references to his breviary made it clear in was in Latin, but I cannot immediately find it again.

  48. MikeM says:

    I think that a lot of Pope Francis’ apparently off the wall remarks are a matter of his life experiences having occurred in a different context from both ours and, to varying degrees, those of past Popes. I’d imagine that with his years of experience as a priest and bishop, he developed an informed perspective on the problems in the Church in Argentina, but they’re not problems that I’ve ever seen in the US (confessors withholding mercy?)

    I hope that, in preparation for this trip, Pope Francis took some time to learn about the Church and society in the United States. Or, at the very least, that he gets a somewhat accurate view of our country while he’s here.

  49. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Phil_NL,

    I’m not certain that the “West”, as we call the economically endowed countries, while important in the view of the world, are so in the view of God. We should remember the history of the empires of the past: Assyria, Babylon, the empire of Alexander the Great, and Rome. All of these fell while the People of God (Jews and Christians) continued. As Scripture has it, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.” (Is. 55:8).

  50. Phil_NL says:

    Gerard Plourde,

    Please read again. I wasn’t talking about worth in the eyes of God, except when I said every soul is as precious to the Lord as the next. No argument there. My main point was that cultural trends, economic and technical developments are driven by what happens in the West. If you want to influence the world, you need to start there. Someone who is beloved in the third world but has no clout in the developed world will not change the world. Which again creates something of a paradox if the Church becomes less politically neutral. It will side with the poor, but by doing so loose the influence needed to actually make a difference on any front – the plight of the poor included.

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