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Latest headlines resulting from Pope’s recent interview

September 19th, 2013, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

UPDATE 2013-09-20 11:45 AM EST – If this is your first time to CleansingFire and you’ve come to this site from reading the D&C, you might be interested in reading this post which provides some background as to why this site exists.


I’m posting this more hastily than I’d prefer simply because I’m already seeing the MSM headlines and because my inbox is getting hit-up with requests for comments.

As far as I currently understand, this is the interview that the MSM is reporting from:

A Big Heart Open to God – americamagazine.org

One “juicy” excerpt being:

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.

The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. 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.

You can get a taste of how the MSM is spinning the Pope’s words by reading this article on cbsnews.com – Pope Francis: Catholic Church must focus beyond “small-minded rules”

Below is what I sent to the D&C upon request for comment based only on the excerpt of the interview quoted above and from skimming the CBS News article. I plan to read the article in its entirety, but haven’t yet done so (I’m sure I’ve missed many points from interview, so please add your own voice in the comments).

Pope Francis is speaking about a matter of pastoral emphasis. He is in no way saying that the Church ought to change doctrines (which cannot change) or even disciplines (which can change). I can’t imagine any Catholic would disagree that the Church ought not underemphasize the core message of the Gospel (God’s immense love and mercy extended to everyone without exception). However, without further clarification from the Holy Father, it would be unwise to hypothesize as to particular people or circumstances that he is referring to as “transmitting a disjointed multitude of doctrines” while neglecting the “essentials”. The Pope is the leader of a world wide Church including over 1.2 billion members and it would be unwise to think he is speaking against a particular mindset in our little sphere of the Catholic world in favor of another mindset. Here in the US, I personally believe that the Catholic Church has underemphasized both the fundamentals as well as the peripherals (not that I’m conceding the above issues are peripheral) which has resulted in many of the faithful adhering to, perhaps unknowingly, moralistic therapeutic deism. Those outside the daily life of the Catholic Church might think certain issues are overemphasized simply because of what happens to make headlines in the mainstream media. The Church can spend 99% of her time talking about God’s love for humanity, his utter transcendence, and his desire to pour his mercy on all mankind and 1% of her time articulating doctrines such as the immorality of homosexual actions and guess which makes the headlines?

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29 Responses to “Latest headlines resulting from Pope’s recent interview”

  1. avatar Wayne says:

    Why not read the full interview and make up your own mind? Who cares how it is being spinned? Reading just this short excerpt out of context does not do the interview justice.

  2. avatar Rich Leonardi says:

    Ben,

    Pope Francis has spent decades dealing with the media and certainly knew how his words would be interpreted. I think we can take them at face value; going against virtually all evidence, he believes that de-emphasizing doctrine is key to the Church’s vibrancy.

  3. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Why not read the full interview and make up your own mind?

    Didn’t I state that I plan to? My comment was about as generic as it could be (I didn’t really make up my mind about much)

    Who cares how it is being spinned?

    Catholics in the DOR who have to deal with dissidents who will claim the Pope agrees w/ them.

    Reading just this short excerpt out of context does not do the interview justice.

    Right, which is what I was trying to get at.

  4. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Before I knew anything about the interview or any media reporting on
    it, I received he following text:

    “How do u take the words pope Francis said about “gays” and abortion…
    abc obviously is spinning what he said”

    So what is the first reliable Catholic source I went to in order
    to learn to what the text referred? CF

    So thanks, CF
    Now i will comment without doing any further reading as yet.

    The Pope knows of what he speaks and congratulations to George
    Weigel who has said many times since publication of his most recent
    and controversial book, “Evangelical Catholicism:

    “Pope Francis is implementing the evangelical Catholic reform for
    which The Second Vatican Council called.”

    At the risk of being really misunderstood, I will attempt
    to make sense of the Pope’s quoted above statements.

    John 7 :17 teaches the spiritual principle that understanding
    follows, does not precede, faith.

    Weigel wrote that today’s culture needs to first hear:
    THE GOSPEL PROCLAIMS, not “the Church teaches”.

    Once introduced to Christ crucified/ risen; once encountered/
    discovered; once experienced and celebrated, the decision to
    follow and obey is made. Then liturgical mystagogia and life
    long catechesis becomes embraced. Ah, now we sinners saved
    by grace, committed to on going penance and conversion, filled
    with the joy of the Lord can appreciate, understand and live the
    moral teaching of the Church as ‘life in the spirit’ , so that the
    “righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not
    after he flesh but after the Spirit”.

    Pope Francis is not a progressive dissident embracing the
    hermeneutic of rupture.

    God be praised. Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ; living
    and proclaiming Christ’s good news according to Sacred Tradition.

    At Cana the Virgin exhorted to do as he says.
    Could she be telling us to heed the Vicar’s words and model
    his actions?

  5. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    “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”

    Essentials? Necessary things? What fascinates? What attracts?

    What makes the heart burn?

    Answers to:
    Who is Jesus?
    What has he done; doing; and will do?
    What does this mean for us?
    What ought to be our response to who he is?
    … To what he’s doing?
    ….To what this all mans for us?

    The Son of God attracts and fascinates.
    The Word of God warms our hearts with the
    fire of the Spirit’s Love.

    Oh, yes, yes, Pope Francis knows of what he speaks!

    Come and see….

  6. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    ” going against virtually all evidence,
    he believes that de-emphasizing doctrine
    is key to the Church’s vibrancy.”

    With all due respect, the Pope believes
    proclaiming Jesus Christ, who is the
    good news, is key to the Church’s
    vibrancy.

    Even among the baptized are the unevangelized;
    the unconverted; the non-committed who
    are not disciples.

    Of course doctrine is very important. First,
    however, is the essential importance of
    the person of the incarnate Son of God
    and the transformative encounter with Him.

  7. avatar Nerina says:

    Really good discussion over at Fr. Z’s blog – http://www.wdtprs.com/blog.

  8. avatar BigE says:

    Seems pretty simple to me. Pope Francis is not back tracking on any current Church teaching. All I think he is saying is that the Pastoral and Evangelical mission of the Church should outweigh any unhealthy focus on doctrinal purity. That you don’t focus people just on doctrine, you focus them on the love of Christ. You get people into the Church, get their hearts burning, and then let God change them. A HUGE Amen to that. I think it flies in the face of an earlier attitude of some that a smaller more doctrinal uniform church was better than a larger more inclusive one.

  9. avatar Scott W. says:

    I’ve already experienced doctrinal de-emphasis: In my original RCIA conversion class. It was a disaster of feel-good esotercism. Only independent study and learning of what the Church actually teaches kept me going.

  10. avatar Rich Leonardi says:

    Decades of research show that converts and lukewarm Catholics are drawn to the Church primarily by three factors: (1) the Eucharist, (2) a person asking them in/back, and (3) doctrinal certainty. Think of it as a three-legged stool. Pope Francis has just taken out one of its legs.

  11. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    Sure, balance is a good thing. But, correct me if I am wrong, the Holy Father, does not want a church, composed of simply expressing dogma. And talking about homosexuality, abortion and birth control seem to fall under the category of “Dogma”.

    But where is he getting his information that these issues have been taught as dogma? For 40 years, we have seen bishops giving lip service to these issues in an occasional press release and article in the Cathiolic newspaper but there has been no mandate to preach these things to the laity on a regular basis. There has been no real teaching of these issues.

    So I am perplexed. Why isn’t he talking about the disconnect between paying lip service and real teaching. In eality, hasn’t there been an overemphysis on Social Justice and many more irrelevant issues?

    What most people will take away from this, as we have already seen in the main stream media, is that these sexual issues are not really important…that other issues are more relevant. That issues concerning sexual issues are less relavent.
    I cannot disagree more. For these issues have really NEVER been taught.

    So why is he sating “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.”

    I have to disagree with him. Where has he been for the last 40 years?

  12. avatar JLo says:

    Thank you Rich Leonardi and Richard Thomas for assuring me that I am not alone in thinking this is a nightmare. Pope Francis keeps making statements in a new papal language: double-speak, which is confusing for everyone…. at best!

    Just saw Fr. Morris on FOX and he was gushing about how this Holy Father is merely puting the mercy of Jesus first. Then Fr. Morris read a letter from his sister who married her girlfriend (he said he did not approve) and she is so moved and happy at this Holy Father’s understanding of the love of Jesus for her in her life. Fr. Morris was thrilled! Said Pope Francis reached her with this message when all this time Fr. Morris could not. HUH??? She’s still “married”!

    Pope Francis in just six months has the entire world confused about Catholic teaching as he gives the MSM and the enemies of Holy Mother Church all the fodder they need to blast the true church. And I can’t believe he doesn’t recognize why the Church is losing followers, that the reasons are exactly opposite of what he told media!

    I hope and pray that Pope Francis will start to sit (kneel) quietly, preferably in Adoration, and back off his constant public statements and become a thoughtful, deliberative shepherd. Personally, that’s what I look for in my popes, not scurrying and currying and doublespeak. He says the Church has never been in better shape? Oh my. Enough from me. I, too, need to read everything, digest it, and pray, pray, pray, because at first blush, I find all this terrifying. +JMJ

  13. avatar Hopefull says:

    Shall we celebrate tomorrow being one year since Pope Benedict quickly accepted Bishop Clark’s resignation? But now I am getting more worried about his successor.

  14. avatar annonymouse says:

    I am interrupting my self-imposed hiatus (perhaps soon-to-be Gen-imposed hiatus), to weigh in:

    Rich, RT and JLo – be at peace. Here’s what the Holy Father had to say today (of course, it’s highly doubtful that this message will be front page news of any of our major dailies):

    http://www.todayscatholicnews.org/2013/09/pope-condemns-abortion-as-product-of-throwaway-culture/

    Let us not forget that the Holy Father is the visible sign of the universal Church’s unity. We may quarrel with our bishops, but it seems to me that we should take very seriously what the Holy Father teaches us and not glibly dismiss it as less than thoughtful or not deliberative. Francis is Christ’s vicar on earth, and we all can learn much from him. Moreover, we should be very, very careful about criticizing our Holy Father. Or about wishing that he would simply see the world the same way you and I do! Isn’t the Pope’s teaching all about calling us to conform our lives and minds to the mind of Jesus Christ?

    Perhaps Francis’ words (skewed as they have been by the press) ruffled our feathers yesterday (they did, at first, mine) because we have heard so little in the DoR about any of the matters he now seems to want to downplay. But after reading the interview, which I found actually to be strikingly beautiful, I look at it this way – this is a “both-and” – he wishes the world to know that these are grave sins, that he is changing no moral teaching, but he most of all wishes the world to know that Jesus Christ lived, died and was raised so that we all may have His mercy for our sins! THAT is the GOOD NEWS!

    And we Christians are to be joyful proclaimers of GOOD NEWS! So amen to the comments by Dominic and E above – we have to get them into the Church before they can really commence the life-long process of conversion and sanctification – ours is a Church of sinners, on our way to becoming (by God’s grace) SAINTS! That is the Pope’s message, I believe. So SMILE and CELEBRATE – we have the GOOD NEWS and we are called to share it with the world, to make believers in Christ Jesus to the ends of the earth.

    Bye again.

  15. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    Hi E and Mouse,

    Nice to hear from you. I will be hopeful. I am wondering if many on the DOR and other dioceses will think that this only gives them a green light to further living their skewed version of the gospel.

  16. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Grorge Weigel has posted an article regarding Pope Francis’s recently published interview.
    Mr. Weigel understands the pope’s comments and put them in their proper perspective. Enjoy the article’s introduction for readers:

    ” George Weigel explains that those willing to take Pope Francis “in full” will discern his conviction that “it is by insisting on conversion to Jesus Christ, on lifelong deepening of the believer’s friendship with him, and on the Church’s ministry as an instrument of the divine mercy that the Church will help others make sense of its teaching on [moral] matters — with which the New York Times, not the Catholic Church, is obsessed — and will begin to transform a deeply wounded culture.”

    Find and read “The Christ-Centered Pope National Review Online By George Weigel
    September 20, 2013”

    In the mean time, for us who are especially anxious, terrrified, disappointed or just surprised, try singing:

    “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in his wonderful face,
    and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light
    of his glory and grace.

    O soul are you weary and troubled, no light in the darkness to see,
    there’s light for a look at the savior and life more abundant and free.

    Turn your eyes upon Jesus look full in his wonderful face and the
    things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”

    Pope Francis knows the friendship of Jesus and is communicating the joy of that
    saving friendship to us.

    Come and see…..

  17. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    JLo,

    What many in the DOR, and everywhere else have been touting for years is that showing mercy means tolerating and allowing sinful behavior. Jesus never did anything of the sort. His purpose was to instruct the sinner so as to never sin again.

    Perhaps many of these Modernist “soothsayers” really want morality to change and they are acting as if there is a new more permissive morality.

    God, give us good shepherds

  18. avatar BigE says:

    @Richard
    Just curious Richard…what do you think Jesus would have done if the sinner fell down and sinned again? Do you really think Jesus’ purpose was to instruct the sinner to never sin again? Do you honestly believe any of us are really capable of “sinning no more”? Or was Jesus primary purpose to show us how much he loved us, despite our our sinfulness and brokedness?

  19. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    He would forgive him, again, and again, and again. But he would never stop instructing him or her not to sin.

    Jesus told the woman at the well: Go and sin no more”. I quote the Master. Love means instruction and not simply “loving someone” and letting them persist in their sins. “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”.

    And when we sin, the importance of confession is paramount.

    The winner in this spiritual journey is on wwho stands up on their feet one more time than when falling down.

  20. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    So may I quote an article on Fox news by someone in Catholics United, a hereterical organization already twisting the message of the Holy Father.

    – A bishop in Illinois compares Obama to Hitler because of Obama’s policies allowing women greater access to contraception.
    – A bishop in Arizona excommunicates a Catholic hospital because it authorized an abortion to save the life of a dying woman.
    – A bishop in Washington, D.C., denies health care benefits to his employees as a way to circumvent non-discrimination protections for gay people.

    He calls these examples errors.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/09/20/thank-god-pope-francis-says-catholics-need-attitude-adjustment/#ixzz2fTRL4mJm

  21. avatar JLo says:

    I have for many years implicitly trusted George Weigel’s Catholicity. I am so happy to read him on what was becoming for me a stumbling block, i.e., a talkative Holy Father whose remarks provide both fodder to the MSM and confusion to believers. I echo Mr. Zarcone’s suggestion to read Weigel’s article. If you are agitated, it will give good counsel and hopefully give you peace… at least I found both in reading it.
    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/359042/christ-centered-pope-george-weigel/page/0/1?splash=
    +JMJ

  22. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Perhaps it is unfamiliarity with the insights one gleans from the Sacred Scriptures.
    Or, maybe it is unfamiliarity with the Good News itself.
    Hopefully, it is not unfamiliarity with the person of the Son of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    Yet, on this most faithful of Catholic websites, visited by faithful and committed Catholics, one reads:
    * Pope Francis believes that de-emphasizing doctrine is the key to the Church’s vibrancy.
    * Pope Francis has just taken out doctrinal certainty.
    * I have to disagree with him. Where has he been for the last 40 years?
    * I am not alone in thinking this is a nightmare.
    * Pope Francis keeps making statements in double-speak,
    * at first blush, I find all this terrifying.
    * now I am getting more worried about Pope Benedict’s successor.

    May I remind all of us, CF brothers and sisters, we are reflecting upon the apostolic work of Christ’s Vicar on earth, Pope Francis?

    Doesn’t it occur to us that we are sounding like the Pharisees depicted in the New Testament? What a shame that those most religious of religious Jews were unable to perceive, hear, believe and obey the Living Word of God, the Incarnate Son of God who was in their midst.

    When we come upon a difficult to understand passage of Scripture, do we just outright reject it, rant and rail against it; or do we patiently wait upon the Lord, praying for light?

    Let’s refuse to be unwilling to wait upon the Lord and reflect upon his Vicar’s actions and words? One of us hopes and prays that “Pope Francis will start to sit (kneel) quietly, preferably in Adoration.” I suggest all of us do the same and listen.

    To help us to that, I offer an article posted by George Weigel. Let’s give Weigel’s thoughts the necessary reflection and prayer that just might facilitate our appreciation of what Pope Francis is saying and doing. The Church’s vibrancy and our own salvation might depend upon it!

    http://www.eppc.org/publications/the-christ-centered-pope/

  23. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    JLo, While you were posting your 7:34 PM comment, I was writing and posting my most recent one.

    Honestly, I am glad to read that you are experiencing peace and that Weigel’s article helped.

    We are siblings in the Lord, JLo, and the Pope is our Holy Father, our Universal Pastor.

    How fortunate we are to be Catholics who belong to the family of God. How blessed we are to be invited to the Eucharist, to Holy Mass in which our Savior Lord is made present in a real and substantial way.

    Let us pray that Pope Francis facilitates “conversion to Jesus Christ, lifelong deepening of the believer’s friendship with him, and the Church’s ministry as an instrument of the divine mercy that will help others make sense of its teaching…”

  24. avatar y2kscotty says:

    Good to see “Mouse” again. After reading all the comments so far, Mouse seems to be making sense and Dominick seems to be acting with great prudence and counseling the same.

  25. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    I have some thoughts about what has been stated by the Holy Father.

    The hearts of the disciples from Emmaus were on fire but who put them on fire? It was Jesus. Now, today, who is going to fill the hearts of the faithful with that kind of fire? Our priests and bishops? I doubt it. Look at what we are experiencing. Heretetical, lukewarm clergy. And most faithful Catholics may not have such fire.

    There are exceptions like Blessed Mother Theresa JP2 but for the most part, the clergy is incapable of starting this fire.

    Come Holy Spirit. Enrich the hearts of the faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.

  26. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    I’ll second Nerina’s suggestion to read Fr Z and also Phil Lawler:
    http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otn.cfm?id=997

    (By the way, some of my friends have argued, with ample justification, that the Pope is simply wrong to say that the Church has spoken out too often about abortion, homosexuality, and contraception. In fact, my friends observe, bishops and priests have been conspicuously silent on those issues. That is sadly, undeniably true. Yet still the Pope has a point. Bishops and priests do not constitute the Church. We are the Church—you and I, as well as the bishops and priests and religious. Have we, you and I, sometimes taken pleasure in denouncing an evil, when it would have been more effective, and more charitable, to say something about God’s merciful love? I, for one, plead guilty to that charge.)

    or.. better yet, just re-read the Holy Father.

  27. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    Ben,

    Yes. We are the Church. But it is the voice of a very small number of Catholic laity who are speaking up on the issues you mentioned. Something like Joshua’s 600!. But I can never say that bishops and priests have done their duty teaching and preaching about it.

    In conversations it is how the message is presented and yes, we have to be as diplomatic and charitable as possible in proclaiming that message.

    I take Christ’s words to heart. You must be sly as a fox …….. in proclaiming that message. You change your tone as to the audience you are addressing.

  28. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Rich, you said:

    he believes that de-emphasizing doctrine is key to the Church’s vibrancy.

    Could you please provide some evidence for this statement?

  29. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    Ben,

    We all know about the silence of the clergy concerning birth control over the last 40 years.

    No, all of a sudden the pope says we cannot be dogmatic when discussing these issues.

    It seems contradictory when few have ever fufilled their missions preaching about it.

    So we go from absence of preaching to warnings not to be dogmatic about the issue.

    To me it says, don’t be dogmatic about a phantom. Wouldn’t he do mure justice to discuss the silence of the clergy? The issue of birth control gets another black eye.


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