I had lunch with my pastor on Tuesday and the subject of Pope Francis came up.
One of the things he noted is that Francis tends to talk like a pastor counseling an individual in a specific situation rather than like a theologian making pronouncements on the faith.
The problem with this approach being that if you have the international media looking to spin your every word for the sake of drawing eyeballs and clicks not to mention pushing an agenda such pronouncements will likely not bear any resemblance to what you are actually trying to convey.
Yesterday was a great example.
I was driving to pick up a doctor’s note for my sick wife (Between my illness, being laid off and my wife’s illness February has been a bad month for me) and I turned on the radio and heard first CBS & then Rush Limbaugh, talk about the Pope and Donald Trump and the Pope and Contraception and did a double take.
Now if you are a faithful Catholic who is not familiar with the media’s regular attempts to spin everything the Pope says and does you might find yourself talking to your pastor this weekend and asking what’s going on? Is the pill OK to take now? Is the border fence considered a mortal sin?
However if you are a regular reader of the this blog you likely decided to do what I did, wait till you got home and look to see if John Allen vatican reporter extraordinaire reported on this and try to find the actual text of the various exchanges.
Lucky for Catholic everywhere Captain Ed Morrissey was on the job because at 4PM yesterday the Ed Morrissey show was coming on and lo and behold along with Salma Zito and our favorite Yid with Lid he had Mr. John Allen as a guest.
Here is the Donald Trump question and answer
Phil Pullella, Reuters: Today, you spoke very eloquently about the problems of immigration. On the other side of the border, there is a very tough electoral battle. One of the candidates for the White House, Republican Donald Trump, in an interview recently said that you are a political man and he even said that you are a pawn, an instrument of the Mexican government for migration politics. Trump said that if he’s elected, he wants to build 2,500 kilometers of wall along the border. He wants to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, separating families, etcetera. I would like to ask you, what do you think of these accusations against you and if a North American Catholic can vote for a person like this?
Pope Francis: Thank God he said I was a politician because Aristotle defined the human person as ‘animal politicus.’ At least I am a human person. As to whether I am a pawn, well, maybe, I don’t know. I’ll leave that up to your judgment and that of the people. And then, a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel. As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.
and here is the question on the Zika virus and contraception:
Paloma García Ovejero, Cadena COPE (Spain): Holy Father, for several weeks there’s been a lot of concern in many Latin American countries but also in Europe regarding the Zika virus. The greatest risk would be for pregnant women. There is anguish. Some authorities have proposed abortion, or else to avoiding pregnancy. As regards avoiding pregnancy, on this issue, can the Church take into consideration the concept of “the lesser of two evils?”
Pope Francis: Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. It is a crime. It is to throw someone out in order to save another. That’s what the Mafia does. It is a crime, an absolute evil. On the ‘lesser evil,’ avoiding pregnancy, we are speaking in terms of the conflict between the fifth and sixth commandment. Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape.
Don’t confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy by itself, with abortion. Abortion is not a theological problem, it is a human problem, it is a medical problem. You kill one person to save another, in the best case scenario. Or to live comfortably, no? It’s against the Hippocratic oaths doctors must take. It is an evil in and of itself, but it is not a religious evil in the beginning, no, it’s a human evil. Then obviously, as with every human evil, each killing is condemned.
On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, or in the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear. I would also urge doctors to do their utmost to find vaccines against these two mosquitoes that carry this disease. This needs to be worked on.
As you can see, in context this sounds a whole lot different that it has been spun. For example his giving “The Benefit of the doubt” to Donald Trump and his comparison of Abortion to Mafia murder apparently were not considered all that newsworthy.
Moreover if the media had bothered to actually cover the Pope in Mexico, as John Allen did, they would know that he was very hard on a particular group of people. The Catholic Bishops:
There’s yet another constituency in Mexico right now feeling rather thoroughly judged by the pontiff, and, for the record, found not altogether up to snuff: the country’s roughly 170 Catholic bishops.
In a remarkable 4,500-word address to the bishops on Saturday, one of the most developed and detailed speeches of his papacy, Francis laid out a vision of the kind of prelate he believes the Church needs today — and left little doubt that it’s not always the kind of shepherd it actually has.
and he didn’t spare the government of Mexico either:
During five days in Mexico, Pope Francis excoriated government elites for denying their people justice and peace, told bishops to do more to alleviate their flock’s suffering at the hands of drug traffickers and corrupt officials, and pointedly avoided the pomp of Mexico City in favor of more humble settings.
While popes often offer gentle criticism on visits abroad, Francis seems to have gone even further in hectoring his hosts this trip. Observers said the pontiff clearly feels that both the Church and the government have failed Mexico’s people.
“The pope literally believes that the devil is on the loose in Mexico, sowing death, misery, and resignation, and he believes that the state, the Church and the drug dealers are complicit,”
I suspect that last critique of Mexico’s government is something every single GOP candidate would agree with, including Donald Trump.
Too bad nobody in the MSM is interested in either reporting his words in Mexico or his words in context in this case. I guess it doesn’t generate enough clicks.
And I suspect my pastor is going to have to explain this to more people who come asking again.
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