After reading the (English translation) interview of Pope Francis last night, I was taken aback with what he said on certain matters. He spoke like no other Pope I’ve heard, he spoke like a Jesuit (not at all sure if that’s positive). The candor, the ease and the seeming openness and acceptance. Here is where the liberal media is once again in a feeding frenzy. They think they smell blood but all they actually smell is they’re imagined hunger for the Church to change her teachings with regard to sexual morality.
A professor of ancient linguistics once told me that a protestant pastor may say the most outrageous thing about sexual morality and it will only make page three of a newspaper but when a comma is omitted in what the Pope says, it’s front page news. That, in gist, is what is happening here. Francis candidly talks to an journalist-atheist (that’s courageous of him, we could learn from that) about his thoughts on the problems confronting the Church and he preaches about a different way of approaching these (as it pertains to faith and morals) and everyone thinks that the method is the data. Sorry folks, no data-changing is going on.
After praying, sleeping it off and re-reading the interview, I realized that those things that bothered me were not really as bothersome as I imagined them to be:
1. F: “Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us. Sometimes after a meeting I want to arrange another one because new ideas are born and I discover new needs. This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.” The idea of evangelizing to a person is premised on some personal knowledge of that person’s biases and leanings. I’m guessing that by saying, “proselytism is nonsense”, this is in the context of the second statement “We need to get to know each other.” Converts are converted, not by mere preaching (some are catalyzed by this to be sure) but by a certain closeness to the one evangelizing assuming they are of Good Will as the pope has repeated many times. To make my point, I suggest that you watch movies of St. John Bosco and St. Philip Neri. Those involved in apologetics will get the pope’s point on this one.
2. F: “And I repeat it here. Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.” Remember folks this is an interview with a journalist who is an atheist, not a discussion on doctrine. Francis is teaching us how a dialogue with an atheist can proceed (not sure if it will be productive though) Clearly what he said is consistent with the Catechism. (CCC1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.”) and if you’re talking to an atheist, one does not have to go into doctrine so he (Francis) does not expound on this… (CCC ” 1800 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. 1801 Conscience can remain in ignorance or make erroneous judgments. Such ignorance and errors are not always free of guilt.)
3. F: “No, there are sometimes courtiers in the curia, but the curia as a whole is another thing. It is what in an army is called the quartermaster’s office, it manages the services that serve the Holy See. But it has one defect: it is Vatican-centric.” One thought which the liberal media failed to understand about this statement: Francis hates the heavy bureaucracy that is failing to allow the clergy to do their job. That’s all it is! It is no secret after all that the Vatican has been involved in a lot of scandals mainly through it’s different curial offices. Francis wants to rid it of the internal politics and backstabbing that victimized even Pope Emeritus Benedict!
4. F: “We always have been but the issue today is not that. Personally I think that being a minority is actually a strength. We have to be a leavening of life and love and the leavening is infinitely smaller than the mass of fruits, flowers and trees that are born out of it. I believe I have already said that our goal is not to proselytize but to listen to needs, desires and disappointments, despair, hope.” Yes the goal of the Church is to bring people to salvation primarily, by finding a “cure” to the ailment which is sin and this can only be done, first, by knowing who the sick are and what they are afflicted with, through their symptoms, so to speak. Proselytism comes second, he doesn’t have to say this, it is implied and he even mentions it in his first interview when he talks about catechizing those who are away after they have been drawn back in. (Will this method work, we’ll have to wait, pray, work and see)
…and for me the most amusing (after Pope Francis talks about the proselytism being nonsense) is this:
5. F: “But now let me ask you a question: you, a secular non-believer in God, what do you believe in? You are a writer and a man of thought. You believe in something, you must have a dominant value. Don’t answer me with words like honesty, seeking, the vision of the common good, all important principles and values but that is not what I am asking. I am asking what you think is the essence of the world, indeed the universe. You must ask yourself, of course, like everyone else, who we are, where we come from, where we are going. Even children ask themselves these questions. And you?” … “But can you define what you call Being?” … “All right. I did not want you to give me a summary of your philosophy and what you have told me is enough for me. From my point of view, God is the light that illuminates the darkness, even if it does not dissolve it, and a spark of divine light is within each of us. In the letter I wrote to you, you will remember I said that our species will end but the light of God will not end and at that point it will invade all souls and it will all be in everyone.” I think the Pope couldn’t help it. He must have felt he had an entry point and took it. The Pope actually starts to evangelize, “proselytize” to his interviewee, Scalfari! He holds back of course (read the entire transcript) because I think he realizes what he had just said and didn’t want to be pushy.
At the end of the day, the only thing I can say is that one hears what one wants to hear, especially the liberal media. Were the Pope’s words easy to misinterpret? Sure (and I’d have to admit it’s tiring to have to do this all the time). Did he intend to teach doctrine? NOPE. Did be intend to change the way things in the curia are run? It would seem that he does. Will he be successful? To the things that need changing , I pray and hope so!