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.
I’m not even convinced of Francis’ opposition to homosexual marriage which Peters considers to be a given. In fact, I believe he supports it. He does just enough to maintain plausible deniability, such as his recent address to the Roman Rota but then he’ll turn around and throw under the bus those who are actively fighting it, such as Kim Davis and the throng in the Circo Massimo.
Does anyone really believe that the mid-term relatio of the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family which told us that we ought to value the “positive aspects” of homosexual partnerships, was published without the thumbs up from Francis?
I don’t know, I’m not going to say it’s dishonest journalism, but why would Allen omit the fact that one of the very first acts of Pope Francis’ pontificate was to go out spontaneously and join Italy’s equivalent of our USA March for Life? He acts like he has done any of those things when that is simply not true — this is an error or omission on the order of demanding an editorial correction, I think. Journalists must worry about credibility as well as anyone, and the fact that so much is omitted here in order to laboriously serve this construct or narrative that Francis is somehow pioneering a “different approach” is a bit odd.
The fact of the matter is that the cause for the sanctity of life has gone on in this country and elsewhere without the heavy lifting and assistance in large part of the mainstream Church and hierarchy or pulpit interventions. The March for Life and its effects have proceeded, to great success and winning hearts and minds overwhelmingly more complete than the old cause for “choice” sadly ringing out still in some strange parishes and Catholic places where partisans ready to advocate for abortion to serve the cause of Big Greed, despite whatever the Church has or has not done, and despite the very vocal leadership of their favored “Catholic” politicians at the helm and utilizing party apparatus to the enth degree. It is truly grassroots, and I am not alone in thinking that the tide is proceeding now such that the movement for protection of human life as a matter of basic human rights and dignity, as well as women’s dignity, just does not depend on what one high placed cleric or another says or does. It’s become, Deo Gratias, bigger, more diverse, and much more independent of that. Many still remember with a touch of betrayal, bitterness, and sadness, what many in charge of institution and parish did or did not do which made it more difficult for mothers to welcome developing life, but that is being swept away in a great tide of mercy and hope.
The other thing is that national antiCatholic reporter & crux also are still hung up on the old canard and calumny about what it means to witness for life, when while they were naval gazing on that obsession and construct, concrete overwhelming generosity in the most material sense and here and now is being conducted, without any fanfare or media recognition, Catholic or otherwise, by so called “prolifers” who are only doing what they do because they care, actually more than others, about the mother, and about the child, and about them both. Prolifers express their belief with concrete acts of mercy like no other movement I am aware of, day in and day out, because this is what they do. The March for Life, if people get to see it because the media let its guard down and let a photo of it slip, is only one day in the year when they do something a little different and convene, whereas the rest of the year it is all about the mothers and all about the children, all the time. This people like crux & antiC reporter can never experience, acknowledge, embrace, and thank God for, but for that it doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening. Crux has a “eureka” moment here and acts like it has discovered some fabulous heretofore untapped approach, but the reality is that it’s just them waking up to the fact that there has always been much, much more to prolife movement than the March, it’s just that they think they invented the news rather than report on it.
I’ll even go a step forward out onto the limb the Catholic elites so love to threaten and say that if Pope Francis is embracing some “new” approach that he got it from the regular and altogether holy and prayerful, peaceful and mercy filled hands of prolifers themselves who are all over the planet and bringing hope wherever they go. If Crux has better info on where he is getting the inspiration for this great new pioneering effort, then let them report on it completely.
Pope Francis’s silence is shameful.
The issue on the table in Italy is proposed legislation that would give legal recognition to civil unions. I remember that shortly after Pope Francis was elected it was reported that when the Argentine bishops were discussing how to oppose gay marriage he favored civil unions. Some say he did so seeing civil unions as a compromise that would forestall gay marriage. According to the reports, his approach was voted down by the other Argentine bishops. So it appears to be deja’ vu all over again in Italy. Pope Francis favors civil unions but a good chunk of the Italian bishops are opposed. Note the courage of those Italian bishops who have spoken up in favor of Family Day: they are standing up not only to the culture but also to the Pope.
I have to say that anyone who favors civil unions on the ground that they will forestall gay marriage is either: (1) naive, (2) stupid, or (3) disingenuous. Civil unions are the first step toward so-called “gay marriage.”
*Second sentence above should read, of course: “He acts like he hasn’t done any of those things which simply isn’t true…”
Well, it’s fine. We’ll make a deal with His Holiness. We’ll publicly support his environmentalism, pacifism, death-penalty abolitionism, and his other pet secular causes just as fervently as he publicly supports our pro-life efforts. Deal, Holiness?
Unfortunately, as a movie (I think) quotes St. Thomas More, the contrary is supposed to be the case:
“Qui tacet consentire”
Isn’t silence supposed to be assumed to be assent?
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Am reminded of the loud silence of the New York bishops as so called gay ‘marriage’ passed in that state.
We need leaders unafraid to proclaim the truth of Christ, the truth on family, marriage and sexuality….this silence and ignoring the evils we are contending with or ‘winking’ at them as if in a perhaps pseudo approval is not helpful to anyone. You cannot serve two masters…
Kiwiinamerica said it very well and I agree with the conclusion.
It is no longer surprising he said nothing about the Family Day or the legislation.
It is no longer surprising he said nothing about the March for Life.
I can’t say anything else for fear of being harsh and getting the boot.
Except this, what galls me even more than what he does is the silence of Cardinals and Bishops.
Shame on the men who should be yelling from the rooftops. Shame on those who twist even his silence into their own plots and plans. Why bother? Sooner or later he’s bound to back you up point blank.
Good on Mr. Peters. As usual. That was a smart response.
A non-zero number of now-canonized saints – in the Roman Catholic church and in other apostolic churches – were silent about, and sometimes even for a time complicit in, the great evils of their day. Pope Francis has had some good pro-life quotes – none while he visited my country, unfortunately – and I can imagine many current Cardinals, were they Pope, being less active on pro-life issues than he is. Anyway, when those canonized saints were being silent about the great evils of their day, their families, their friends, and even some of their enemies were (I guess) often praying for them (and, for those who do not fully recognize the infallibility of the canonizations in certain churches, some of their friends are still praying for them). The Church Militant exists in a world where evil is very persuasive to many souls, and we sinners really need to pray for each other.
“Series of non-actions” : That really defines it – nicely put Dr. Peters.
I think John Allen gets opposing sin better than Ed Peters.
For example, Ed Peters has so little understanding of forgiveness that he can’t see how it opposes abortion. In order to be forgiven of the sin of abortion, an aborter needs to admit its sinfulness.
By promoting God’s merciful forgiveness of aborters, Pope Francis is opposing the sin of abortion in a very effective way, by encouraging aborters themselves to confess to its sinfulness. Everyone knows the Church opposes abortion, restating the obvious does not achieve the same effect as getting aborters themselves to proclaim its sinfulness, even if at first only in the confessional.
This is very similar to the approach of Christ. Christ silences the accusers of the adultress, using their sinfulness: “Let he who has not sinned …Has no one condemned you…neither do I”. While silent in not condemning her, he speaks of sin only to insist on its future rejection.
Peters is right that this way of opposing sin is not new, it is as old as the Gospel.
I think that one aspect of the aftermath of the abortion business and its cultural artifacts that is really completely unappreciated by media arms such as Crux and others has to do with the way in which a great many are converting every day to one side or the other completely away from media coverage, “culture wars” (lol) and even blogging and commentary. I think that when the dust settles on this period of our nation’s history, one will find that a great many observed the truly astounding and selfless acts of mercy that the much demonized and despized “prolifers” do all the time in the matter of course to help women and children, and were so convinced then of the truth of the Gospel, of the credibility of its witnesses, and of course then as well that life as created by God must truly be respected and reverenced in all its stages of development. What is not heard in mainstream media are the constant conversion stories, that because of prolifers, the lives of a great many have been forever changed to the better.
And, the darkness is there too, but it does not overcome the light. People are revolted, repelled, by what the abortion industry is about, they are horrified at the monster that Roe v Wade created, and they understand that we as a people are better than that, and that we all lose in ways never calculated or comprehended by this terrible scourage which has become insatiable beyond imagining, with acts of horror and torture continually served up as necessities in order to balance budgets, to provide this or that to the ones who got through arbitrary chance to live past those dread markers. People are converted by these too, by the reality, of what life for a “fetus” is really like, and the pain they experience, the pain their mothers experience in giving over to the rhetoric and legalism that it’s all for the best for everyone, and by the crassness and coarseness of the whole pursuit and its defenders which have made our civil discourse ugly and bereft of human goodness and kindness. As I watched the 2007 movie about William Wilberforce with a group of marchers on DC last night, I realized that the revulsion that so many have felt in these last years as the reality of the horror of the big abortion industry has finally registered in all its detail in the public’s conscience is the very same that the elite in London experienced upon having to see, smell, and witness up close a slave ship returned to port after its journey of death and inhumanity. What no one in these publications will discuss because it is like in Wilberforce’s day, “too polite” to mention has been revealed, and the public has become sickened at what they have seen. And, in Iowa tonight, some say that far from “defunding” we must “increase” and “expand” this macabre business trade, for the good of whom, though?
Pope Francis sent an apostolic blessing (via Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State and Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Papal Nuncio) to the 2016 West Coast Walk for Life. In the past, the Papal Nuncio has even attended and relayed the Holy Father’s greeting himself
um, “Go and sin no more?
stephen c says:
A non-zero number of now-canonized saints – in the Roman Catholic church and in other apostolic churches – were silent about, and sometimes even for a time complicit in, the great evils of their day.
Could you give some examples?
Mr. Allen makes the point (which Mr. Peters ignores) that Pope Francis has said that the clergy shouldn’t be the “pilots” on these moral issues in society because Vatican II. He argues that these matters are the province of the laity whose rightful role in society is to take the initiative and lead on without waiting for the clergy to lead, organize and command.
OK. I’ll buy that argument as far as it goes.
Not being a pilot, however, isn’t the same as not being on the plane. In fact, not being the pilot isn’t the same as not being near the airport, either. The laity get it when our clergy ignore or phone it in on certain moral issues and go to the mat on others.
unfortunately for your thesis, every television and all important newspapers here in Italy are telling that the Church is changing her doctrine, that the Family-Day was anti-pope, that Bergoglio shows the love which is able to accept the changing reality of marriage, etc. If the pope wanted to correct this perception, he would do that, wouldn’t he?
Without our shepards’ support we can be completely delegitimized as bigots out of tune with their own church, and we are – and everybody understands that.
But, can the pope at least say”ciao” when a million families come to Rome? Apparently not.
Please, stop being naive
‘there can be no confusion between the family willed by God and any other type of union,’
There can be no confusion between a Rolls-Royce and any other make of car.
Does that mean that we should only buy Rolls-Royces?
I wrote: “While silent in not condemning her, he speaks of sin only to insist on its future rejection.”
In other words, “go and sin no more”.
I guess you agree with me then that both forgiving a sin and exhorting a person not to sin is still opposing sin, while avoiding wasting time stating the obvious, as Ed Peters seems to require: “Adultery is sin”.
Christ does the same with the rich young man, Christ doesn’t list the obvious, the commandments, rather he gets the young man to do the listing.
I tend to agree with Daniel W’s point above, although I do not agree with his second point that states that somehow Ed Peters does not get the concept — however contrary to the Crux article this approach is not “progressive” or somehow not rooted in orthodoxy.
Obviously, to invoke mercy is to say that a situation cries out for it. Mercy is a characteristic of God, and is not inherently something we are in our natural states but can obtain towards it with participation in supernatural grace. To say that we as creatures need mercy and wish to apply it to situations of sin is to say that there is disorder, that the effects of sin are present and observable, they are palpable, we experience it from moment to moment. We are not “ok” just as we are; abortion is not “fine”, or made somehow a good just because of its Supreme Court legalism.
Another aspect though that is curious and Crux is representative of the way the Western media participates in a deception, whether consciously or not, is the way in which the position of being “pro choice” continues to be favored with the association or label of somehow representative of “progressivism” or even “feminism”, such that clinging to these labels is now an instance of ideology at the expense of humanity or humanism, and this betrays any sort of notion of progressivism or liberalism which supposedly or in theory anyway is something that cuts through tired and overly defended or specially invested interest by elites or those in power in order to recognize an update or change in the will of the people as well as scientific discovery. Something that is adhered to just because we have always now done it this way or because it is enshrined in legalism and not the spirit of the law and that no longer serves the overarching good of humanity is not by its nature qualified to be deemed “progressive” rather something like that is more of the order of a totalitarianism and of precepts that must be upheld no matter the cost, no matter the human costs.
In fact, science has made a mockery of the Roe decision which rests upon the scientific knowledge of developing life in the womb state then known in the late 60s. It is truly ignorant to cling to a defense of a law that cannot acknowledge current scientific knowledge. It is a refusal to utilize scientific knowledge for the good of mankind.
Further the legal arguments at the time of Roe envisioned a very small number of women sacrificing their children’s lives. If through some kind of Dr. Who time travel mechanism the horrors of the generations and family lines destroyed through a now thriving abortion culture and industry could have been presented to the Court in oral argument at the time of the decision, much as the way several saints in history were granted visions of suffering souls in order to understand better what the stakes were, then in all likelihood the decision would not have been handed down as we labor under its faults and twisted logic today. Looking at the record and getting a sense of the mind of the justices making the decision, not to mention the mindset at the time of Ms. Roe herself, it becomes an exercise in artificial dogma wherein a whole wing of political thought is chained to or held hostage to an out of date contstruct of legalism which carries no longer any basis in reality, whether scientific or experiential to our shared humanity.
May God have mercy on the souls who advocated for the horror we as a country labor under today, the justices and the politicians who stop at nothing to satisfy a craving for death of our next generation without limit or the benefit of reason, science, reality.
I disagree with the esteemed Dr. Peters. Non-action is a choice as well. While I do not expect the Pontiff to come to the US for the March for Life as it is an American protest for an American decision, I do see the Pope’s silence in Rome of all places to be complicity. I am very tired of making excuses for this Pope. He is a globalist all be it a friendly one. He makes nice with the world with a mild Catholic veneer. Yet, we know the Pope will come out strongly or rebukingly towards things. The overly important use of air conditioning comes to mind. In the meantime, souls are being lost by the boatload.
I am not making excuses for anyone, however, I think it important, when we lament what hierarchy may do or choose not to do, that in many ways given the grassroots and authentic movement towards prolife increasingly (not reported on of course, which doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist) makes action or non action by hierarchy relatively irrelevant. The movement is now not only ecumenical and interreligious, but, also secular, humanist, feminist as well, and does not rely on every word emitted from on high from anyone for its authority that abortion is an evil and is a horror upon the character and well being of a nation just exactly as the slave trade was in its time. It is dependend on greed and arbitrary decision as to who will be tortured, dismembered, executed, and not permitted to speak or exist, and not related to reason, science, humanism. So I for one really do not care anymore what the Pontiff might throw as a bone.
For decades, a lot of dissenting and ridiculous pastors fought prolife believers in the very places they should have been supported and nurtured spiritually. Now that their actions are rendered of no moment and demonstrably far from the will of humanity and contra human rights, there is little that this group may say or do, from whatever vantage in the hierarchical scales, to award bona fides, or not. Just as many who comment here are often confused as to what hierarchy in this country and elsewhere are doing, seeing their pronouncements, actions and nonaction in the face of so many things inexplicable and devoid of logic or mercy, so too the media is really left to grasp at straws and conjecture as to the mind of Pope Francis. Crux speculation on this being exhibit A.
Instead of lamenting the lack of solidarity with prolife and profamily, we should embrace and rejoice in the fact that these are being embraced as goods on a wider basis, in reason, in science, in human rights, the day is already here, and we need not rely upon what the media always would disparage as a Roman Pontiff throwing his weight around to dictate to us lemming and brainless automaton lemmings. Goodness and truth does not depend upon bad clericalism or even just simple recognition of the truth and the basic respect it was always owed and often never came in some “parishes” or places of squatting by partisans in Catholic clothing.
I find some of John Allen’s choices in terms to be unfortunate:
The“anti-abortion” and “anti-abortionist” name tags given to us who believe in the sanctity of life are the preference of abortionists: They prefer this monicker over “pro-life” , because “pro-life” is a stronger reminder that abortion directly and intentionally destroys human life at it’s most vulnerable stage. People who are “pro-life” generally prefer to be called exactly that : “pro-life“. I wonder if Mr. Allen is aware of that ?
It’s like the difference between “anti-gay” and heterosexual : Put the prefix “anti” in front of the word and whatever follows is portrayed as the antagonist. In essence there is nothing wrong with a heterosexual feeling some revulsion when actively homosexual imagery is suggested to his or her mind – it isn’t appealing to us. But try expressing that sentiment publicly in the world today and you’ll have the gaystapo hunting you down in no time flat with their persecution machine.
I now know considerably more than several women who have had abortions . Most of them deeply regret the fact they ever had the abortion ; several don’t (or don’t admit it yet). But every one of them, even those who have confessed the sin , still have this terible wound they carry around with them. So we shouldn’t pretend that once forgiveness is given , everything will somehow be cuddly cozy again. Healing from the effects of abortion can take an entire lifetime.
The media (even amateurs like Crux) shouldn’t downplay something as grave as abortion. What the Mercy is proposing is a first step (well, second actually – you have to admit the sin first) to initiate care for our wounded. That’s good. However it being equally true, from a Catholic perspective, that the confessional has always been there , today the sacrament of Confession has truly been made less and less available. Before conferring the faculty on all priests to forgive the sin and crime of abortion, wouldn’t it have made a little more sense to come out with something that would kick some of the butts of those slackers who have been inordinately avoiding conferral of the sacrament all the way back into the confessor’s side of the confessional ? No offense intended, I’m a slacker too at times – but I’m not ordained. But strategically , it makes better sense.
We’re still only treating the wounded though in the above : We aren’t concentrating on the war.
Further to strategy, sorry guys, but this part Mr. Allen wrote really bugs me:
Sooner or later somebody is going to have to say something because abortion is demonic in nature. Even the marches in and of themselves are not enough. If those are all we’re going to do – with or without the Pope joining in, Satan will laugh at those efforts. If we really want to beat abortion, it is going to take fervent and persistent prayer , and fasting – for those who will. How on earth we would ever expect to implore anyone to do any of that without saying anything is rather a bewildering proposition.
There has been no exhortaion to prayer ! Catholics have to be people of prayer . . . or else we’re going nowhere. Worldwide, at the time of this posting, since 1980, there have been : one billion , four hundred and three million, four hundred and twenty-nine thousand abortions ; 1,403,429,000
Crux gave no exhortation to prayer in their article. After Crux attacked Cardinal Burke in an article a little more than one year ago , Christopher A. Ferrara- President and lead counsel for the American Catholic Lawyers Inc., who has been at the forefront of the legal defense of pro-lifers for the better part of a quarter century , wrote in The Remnant that Crux Magazine with its “recent hatchet job on Cardinal Raymond Burke” exemplified the development of “the emerging virulent anti-Catholicism of certain ‘mainstream’ Catholic journals.” The article, all about Crux, was appropriately titled The Rise of Know-Nothing “Catholic” Journalism.
In fairness to Mr. Allen, Religion News Service’s David Gibson ( an apparent convert to catholicism) – was the author of the Crux hit piece roughly one year ago.
After trying to follow the meanderings of Crux in several of Mr. Allen’s articles now , I have come to the conclusion that regularly and in all probability, Crux falls under that unenviable classification of “lukewarm“.
Read what scripture has to say about being lukewarm. At least, with Fishwrap , you can tell where they stand – even if it stinks.
But with Crux , it’s never clear.
Robt Brown – Out of filial respect I do not like to discuss the repented sins of canonized saints, and I have heard several homilists spend too much time in a sermon on the failings of this or that New Testament apostle (typically Thomas or Peter, both of whom were better on their worst day than I am on my best). However, as the Bible says, whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction and our encouragement, and so, to take two examples from the family tree of Jesus, David and Solomon (both commemorated as saints in many places) certainly sinned through silence about the great evils of their day (not to mention multi-year and repeated participation in such evils in the case of Solomon). Something changed in their heart for the better before they died: who knows who it was who prayed for them?
Grumpy Beggar, “anti abortion” — exactly because they neither confirm nor deny that there is a real live human being fetus going under the guillotine, and because they take their journalistic marching orders from a certain dogma that must always be served up triumphant style. It just goes to show that after years of pretending the March for Life doesn’t happen, and after years of being encouraged by elitists and greed to look the other way, they actually believe their own propaganda, and the omission of their reporting and coverage of March for Life, etc., has wound up hoisting them by their own ignorance.