As a fairly conservative Catholic I’d be lying if I said that Pope Francis’s off the cuff pronouncements didn’t leave me like a James Bond martini: shaken not stirred.
All manner of theories have been put forward for why this is but the fact is that if you have to employ dozens of people to explain what you said you have failed at the core criteria of effective communication: being accurately understood. If this happens with monotonous regularity you need to either shut up or think through your statements before you shoot from the lip… especially if those utterances have an impact on the faith and religious practices of about a billion people.
Having said that, it was a pleasure to see Pope Francis address the inherent and intractable evil of “homosexual marriage” head on. Via MSNBC:
In a reference critical to gay marriage, Pope Francis on Friday warned against an ideological colonization of the family, during his five-day visit to the Philippines, Asia’s most Catholic country.
At a rally for families in the country’s capital of Manila, the popular pontiff spoke of an “ideological colonization that we have to be careful about that is trying to destroy the family,” the pope said through a translator. Many people understood his remarks as a reference to same-sex marriage.
“The family is threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life,” Francis said at a Mass in Manila. “These realities are increasingly under attack from powerful forces, which threaten to disfigure God’s plan for creation.”
He also praised strongly Pope Paul VI’s controversial 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, or On Human Life. “He had the strength to defend openness to life at a time when many people were worried about population growth,” Francis said of the former pope.
It looks as though MSNBC is suprised the Pope is Catholic and is standing by the definition Christ, Himself, gave us of marriage.
For the non-Catholics, Humanae Vitae was a prophetic encyclical by Pope Paul VI who, at the height of the “sexual revolution,” pointed out that severing the linkage of sex from the ideas of love, commitment, monogamy, and procreation would result in sex becoming a recreational activity with a concomitant effect on how women, children, and families are viewed by society and how men and women relate to one another.
Liberals have been giddy ever since Pope Francis ascended to the Chair of Saint Peter. A writer in Crisis magazine (@DrPaulKengor) notes that Pope Francis’s opposition to homosexual marriage is long standing (this is a good article for anyone looking for a critique of the Pope’s off the cuff style and what it means):
My piece was on liberals’ love of Pope Francis on gay issues. Being driven as they are by emotion, they easily construed his kind and tolerant words toward gays as a certain coming embrace of gay marriage. For a liberal, A must always lead to B and then to Z, with nothing in between. I argued that they are deceiving themselves, a duping of their own doing. I laid out various Francis’ statements affirming traditional-Biblical-natural marriage, as well as his extremely strong remarks back in Argentina, where he declared same-sex “marriage” a diabolical effort of “the Father of Lies” to “destroy God’s plan … and deceive the children of God.” He said then—only four years ago—that gay “marriage” discriminates against children “in advance,” depriving them of “their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God.” At stake, said Cardinal Bergoglio, was “the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts” and the very survival of the human family, with Satan at work.
I noted that if one actually pauses and does a little research, examining each of Pope Francis’ many comments on marriage, one finds an obvious consistency that has never wavered from Church teaching. It’s only his language and tone that has changed.
I further noted the increasing number of statements from Francis in recent months, including widely unreported remarks just after the synod, when he remonstrated “that the family is hit, that the family is knocked and that the family is debased.… Can everything be called a family? How … much relativism there is in the concept of the Sacrament of Marriage!” He complained: “What they are proposing is not marriage, it is an association, but it is not marriage! It is necessary to say things very clearly and we must say this!” The Holy Father condemned the “new forms, totally destructive” of marriage.
Pope Francis will always be a Jesuit from South America. In that regards, he is going to speak to the economic conditions that he is familiar with. Poverty in Latin America does not include a flat screen television, an ObamaPhone and a car. I’m equally sure his statement on global warming, due for release this summer, is going to be chock-full of left-wing, pseudo-science. Fortunately, these are not matters of Faith and Morals and while I am obligated to give him a fair hearing, I am under no obligation to believe or act on them. What is important is that Pope is not caving on key issues that define what it means to be a Catholic Christian.