You heard, I’me sure, about the huge lay-run “Family Day” event in Rome that drew vast crowds from all over the peninsula to the City.
Pope Francis and the Italian bishops were un-involved and even silent about this big and important manifestation of family values in the public square.
At the blog of the distinguished canonist Ed Peters, In The Light Of The Law, there a great piece of analysis of some comments made by John L. Allen, formerly of the Fishwrap now of Crux, about the absence of involvement by and silence from Pope Francis and the Italian bishops. Allen argues that Francis and Co. are doing all sorts of other things to support the family and so they didn’t have to do anything for Family Day… or for the March for Life in these USA. Avoiding the public square but doing smaller, less flashy things are, in a way, support. ?!? Allen:
Perhaps that’s where Francis is an innovator — not in rethinking whether Catholicism should still oppose abortion or same-sex marriage, but in pioneering a more compassionate, and thus at least potentially more convincing, way of doing it.
Peters has a different view. Peters:
Allen, associate editor of the on-line news site Crux, recently arguedthat “Francis pioneers a merciful way to oppose abortion, gay marriage”. Setting aside questions as to what the ubiquitous and apparently infinitely malleable adjective “merciful” means here, I take from his headline Allen’s claim that Francis recently did or said some things to “pioneer” new ways to oppose abortion and so-called gay marriage. That claim gets my attention, naturally, but should it not be proven by what Allen includes in his article? Allen offers four points. [I provide only two, below.]
Francis need not, of course, have attended the March for Life (no pope has); he need not have sent it a supportive message (though other popes have); he need not even mention the March for Life if he does not wish to. But, if he did not attend, did not greet, and did not even mention the March, how exactly is this series of non-actions evidence that the pope is ‘pioneering’ a new way to oppose abortion? If eisegesis is reading one’s opinions into another’s words, what is it when there literally are no words to read one’s opinions into, but a message is divined from them anyway?
Italy’s Family Day. Per Allen, “With regard to Italy’s Family Day, Francis used an address to judges of the main Vatican [sic] court on Friday to insist that ‘there can be no confusion between the family willed by God and any other type of union,’ which was taken locally as a green light for resistance to the civil unions measure.” Sorry, but, as above, Francis did not mention Family Day, he did not mention Italian parliament members or its proposed legislation, and he said nothing about marriage or family that any Catholic could not have said in casual conversation. How, then, do Francis’ remarks to the Roman Rota ‘pioneer’ a new way to oppose ‘gay-marriage’ in Italy or anywhere else?
I conclude as I began. These remarks are not a criticism of Francis—there is no doubt whatsoever where he stands on the gravity of abortion and on the impossibility of ‘gay-marriage’ (even if his manner sometimes muffs his message) [A good way to put it.] and he is not obligated to engage in any specific acts of opposition to either. But my remarks are a criticism of reporters who, with some proclivity these days, seem to offer the pope’s silence on various matters as evidence for what they think he means on various matters. May I suggest, instead, that silence is usually, pretty much, just silence.
These are excerpts. Read the rest there.
Peters has a point.