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Monday, September 23, 2013

Catholics Cheer Pope's Remarks

Words matter. How we interpret words matter. Twisting words to massage our consciences matters.  

What did the Pope really mean during the three interviews by Antonio Spadaro, S.J. Editor in chief of La Civilta Cattolica (August 2013; Rome)? It seemed to fire the shot that was heard round the world. The interview was captured and then translated for the English world by a team of five translators. It was also translated into the various languages of the world for both believers and non. Interestingly, it continues to be in the news even a week later - that is impressive considering the news cycle seems to last one day at most - maybe a week if its huge. To read the 12000 word interview,  visit http://www.americamagazine.org/print/156341.See for yourself what you think the Pope was trying to say. This is my interpretation of his message.

 Francis' sentence (lifted from the translated document):  "The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules" does not in any way match up with the following statement from the press: "The church has become too focused on small minded rules on hot button issues like homosexuality, abortion and contraceptives?"

First, note that Pope Francis does not define when, where, and how the church has locked itself up in small things! Yet the press took that statement and defined it for the rest of us by running all of his next thoughts together as if this is the context of what he was thinking. In fact, NARAL thanked the Pope for including Abortion in this small mindedness. So what does Pope Francis do and say next? He meets with Catholic physicians the very next day and says the following: "Your being Catholic entails greater responsibility: first of all to yourself, in the effort to be consistent with the Christian vocation, and then to contemporary culture, to help recognize the transcendent dimension in human life, the imprint of the creative work of God, from the very first moment of conception. This is a commitment to the new evangelization that often requires going against the tide, paying a personal price. The Lord counts on you to spread the 'Gospel of life.'"!
Pope Francis strongly condemned abortion as a manifestation of a “throwaway culture.”
"Every unborn child, though unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of the Lord, who even before his birth, and then as soon as he was born, experienced the rejection of the world," the pope said. 

Do these words sound like a sentiment that NARAL can support?

The same can be said for the Pope's comments about contraception and homosexuality. As he says: he is a son of the Church. This means he has been formed by the Church and faith, hope and charity. He loves the Church but is its newest visionary, He sees how it can do more. He sees the need to bring the truth to people in a new way, a new language, and personally with love!  

I think he is saying this... Faith doesn't seem real to the little people when priests, clergy, Archbishops and Cardinals are buried by administrative details and fail to connect with the people on a daily basis - the little people not the big shots of the world. Religion doesn't seem to make a difference when so much of the donated money goes to bureaucracy rather than direct aid to the people of hurricanes, and other disaster relief. It doesn't seem to make a difference when we fail to provide ongoing help for women in troubled relationships and/or pregnancies - personally and time and  time again. It has little impact when the religion does little to nothing to support parents with special needs pregnancies. It seems to have little impact when young people attend Catholic academies for their  academics and sports and not matters of faith and charitable works of mercy and vocation development. It seems to have less impact when special needs children are left out of the Catholic education system. The pre-marriage formation programs last only weeks and we wonder why divorce is so common among believers. Church going parents seem to just be going through the motions when attending Mass and doing little to  nothing to swim against the tide of materialism and secularism. It does little good to hear the admonishments that we need to hear but think it points to someone else. It does little good to take the Pope's words and twist them so they fit my lifestyle. It does little good to talk against contraception without being able to explain why cogently and consistenly. It does little good to talk against homosexuality without conducting Catholic studies that really look at what it is and why is comes about. It does little good when we  'behold a God dead on the cross for our sake and not love him." It does little good when we behold a God dead on the cross for our sake and not be appreciative of his sacrifice and proving it by changing the way we live!

Is the Pope bringing the Church to a new place? I think so but not the place talked about in the secular press or by many of us. The real Pope is a revolutionary for Christ. He means it when he says " I ask you to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes that you are incapable of responsibility;  that you are incapable of true love."

Does this sound to you like he is trivializing abortion, contraception and homosexuality? It sounds to me as if he is really calling us to an even higher plain - to the Beatitudes. This is a tall order and only with God's grace can we love authentically. That means being close to Christ and he never suggested that we ought to just go along to get along!