I redirect the readership back to my Long View Approach™ and say “breathe deeply… in.. out… in… out….”
Remember, every pontificate of every pope in the whole history of the Church is but a “parenthesis”.
Some parentheses are long and some are short. Some parentheses are important and some are not. One of these days God will hit the SHIFT+0 key and close this parenthesis. Time will tell what this pontificate will have been and it is not fruitful right now to worry about that too much. (BTW… if God is using an Italian keyboard that day it’s SHIFT+9.) Every pontificate has its benefits and its disadvantages.
And, as a commentator mentioned elsewhere on this blog, Christ promised us the help of the Holy Spirit because He knew that we were going to have a rough time of it.
In the meantime, we must keep close to hand our Rosary, our Confession and Mass (hopefully TLM) schedules, our copies of the Holy Writ, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Roman Catechism, good spiritual reading, our To Do Lists for spiritual and corporal works of mercy, etc., and we might consider paying less attention to ephemera until the decks stop pitching.
Stick closely and fervently to what your state in life calls you to do and you’ll fret less about what’s going on, even as you are aware that not everything is beer and skittles right now.
Remember that Pope Francis has the office of Peter. God is offering him graces so that he can carry out his role. There may come a day when he surprises everyone, a kind of “Paul VI – Humanae vitae Moment”. As St. Yogi might put it: “Imperfectum usque dum perfectum!”
That said, I, having also breathed into a paper bag for a little while, am driven to make an observation about something that Pope Francis said in the Q&A with the press on the airplane while heading back to Rome from Africa.
Q: AIDS is a serious problem in Africa, the epidemic continues. We know that prevention is the key and that condoms are not the only means of stopping the epidemic, but it is an important part of the solution. Is it not perhaps time for the Church to change its position with regard to the use of condoms in order to prevent infections? [The question was a trap, of course. By now newsies know how to get this Pope to say something newsworthy. And it was asked on the eve of World AIDS Day.]
Pope Francis: “The question seems biased to me. [D’ya think?] Yes, it is one of the methods, the morality of the Church faces a bit of a predicament here. The fifth or the sixth commandment: defend life or a sexual relationship that is pen to life. But this is not the problem. There is a greater problem than this: this question makes me think of the question they once asked Jesus: tell me Master, is it acceptable to heal on a Saturday? Healing is obligatory! Malnutrition, exploitation, slave labour, the lack of drinking water, these are the problems. We’re not talking about which plaster we should use for which wound. The great injustice is social injustice, the great injustice is malnutrition. I don’t like making such casuistic reflections when there are people dying because of a lack of water and hunger. Think about arms trafficking. When these problems cease to exist, then I think we can ask ourselves the question: is it acceptable to heal on a Saturday? Why are arms still being manufactured? Wars are the leading cause of death. Forget about whether it is acceptable or not to heal on a Saturday. Make justice and when everyone is healed, when there is no injustice in this world, then we can talk about Saturday.”
While this may simply be a way to divert the question into another track (as Pope Benedict should have done – remember? – HERE), my take away from this is:
Pope Francis: There are people who are hungry, and therefore I am not going to answer the question. Anyone who asks that question now, while people are hungry, are like the Pharisee who asked Jesus about healing on the sabbath.
I recall also that Our Lord said to Judas (the head of the Vatican Bank) that “the poor you will always have with you” (John 12:4). That Christ-confirmed fact didn’t prevent Christ from also teaching “hard teachings” (e.g., John 6:60). And Our Lord, despite the fact of the poor around them, nevertheless told His disciples to go out and “teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19), and not wait until there was global economic parity, universal health care, 0% youth unemployment, and a ban on air conditioners.
Whatever Pope Francis’ motives were during the presser, we Catholics must respond to questions about moral problems with certainty and clarity. Both Pope Francis and everyone of us will have to answer to the Just Judge for how we fulfilled our vocations. We are capable of answering with clarity and, at the same time, concerning ourselves in concrete ways about the plight of the poor both near to us and far away. We are capable of the both/and. We are not limited to the either/or. We are not only capable of speaking with clarity on moral issues, we must do so now, more than ever, and we must do so in the public square.
That said, everyone get back to work! Keep supporting vocations to the priesthood. Keep supporting and encouraging sound young priests, who haven’t yet lived in a time of liberal persecution (which is on the rise). Keep close to the sacraments. Keep examining your own consciences and GO TO CONFESSION! Keep promoting the use of the traditional Roman Rite. Keep praying for the Pope and our bishops.
Keep the Faith.