Friday, September 20, 2013

How NOT To Read Pope Francis

A good rule of thumb is to not read what Pope Francis says through the lens of the headlines of the mainstream media. If you read a headline that says "Pope Francis thinks Catholics are obsessed with homosexuality, contraception, and abortion" and then uncritically accept that the headline is accurate and free of all bias, you are setting yourself up for failure!

And if you are reading a news report on what Francis said, with its own interpretation, instead of going to the actual primary source, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU??!! That is laziness of the worst kind. Go to the source! If you can read the New York Times, you can read and comprehend what the Pope said in the actual interview he gave. Think for yourself, do not let the New York Times or any other outlet think for you! You have no right to get mad at the Pope or criticize him because you are too lazy to read what he said in the context in which he said it. "But it's too long!" LAZY! If you can't be bothered to read the whole of what the Pope said, and you go around attacking him based on a faulty news source, you are committing a grave act against charity for which you will be called to account.

Here is the passage that is causing such controversy (but don't just read this, read the whole interview):

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time."
He doesn't say we can't insist on these issues, rather we can't insist only on these issues. Does this mean the Pope isn't concerned with these issues or that he thinks the Church should change her position on them? Read what he says!  "The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church..." Do you hear that, the teaching of the Church is clear! Have you seen any mainstream news reports that include this line? Why not, do you think? Because they are BIASED! They want Francis to say something that he isn't saying, so they pick and choose from the interview, taking his words out of context and fashioning sensational headlines so you will click on their links and give them higher traffic, which results in more adds and more money. Mainstream media is driven by mammon, why would you think they are going to give you the truth?! Francis is not going to change the teaching of the Church. He agrees with the teaching of the Church. The Church is clear on what she teaches and Francis is a son of the Church, which means what the Church teaches, he teaches and believes! It's all right there if you just read Francis according to Francis and not according to the mainstream media.

But, you say, he says "it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time"! Look at the context!

"Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow."
Francis, as a Jesuit faithful to the original charism of his order, is speaking in the context of missionary preaching. Francis is calling the Church to renewed missionary work, which focuses on the essentials. From the essentials flows the moral consequences. So what are the essentials that Francis wants us to focus on?

"Jesus Christ has saved you."
This is the first proclamation. The gift of salvation through Christ must always be first. From that follows moral consequences. What are we being saved from? Sin. We have separated ourselves from God. What is needed is a recognition of this fact that leads to repentance and from there an acknowledgement that we cannot save ourselves; that salvation comes from Christ alone. With this first proclamation of Christ's saving action, we can be drawn to a life that seeks to live in imitation of Christ. It is the saving action of Christ that must guide all subsequent discussion, especially morality. If one focuses on morality apart from the reasons for living a moral life, the proclamation of morality is going to fall away, having been set on a rocky foundation. Why must we live a moral life? Because Christ died for us in order that we may have eternal life. Our new lives in Christ should reflect that reality.

Pope Francis thinks that we have lost a proper emphasis on the first proclamation. It is this that he hopes to restore. He does not wish to change the moral teaching of the Church, but rather to put it in its proper context. Pope Francis is a son of the Church and we should read him (him, not a news report that claims to represent him) with charity in the context of his fidelity to the Church. To do otherwise is to slander the Vicar of Christ.

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