The news from Rome is not good. An interview with Pope Francis has just been published in a Catholic magazine, which reads, in part:
“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.”
Pardon me, Your Holiness, but you’re plain wrong, especially when it comes to abortion. A Church that doesn’t speak out all the time against the great moral horror of its age is useless to the world.
Beyond this, there is the utter tone-deafness of Francis’s public statements since becoming Pope. Can he really not understand how this will be interpreted by the mainstream press and received by the masses? No matter what he may have been trying to say, it will be interpreted and received thus: “Pope says abortion is no big deal”. And worse, the people who take it that way are not wrong to do so. How else can one take his statement, other than something like: “Yeah, yeah – I know what the Church’s teaching on abortion is, but it’s really no big deal and not very important, so everybody just cool it with that stuff”? Is that not, in fact, the essence of what he said? How else can this reasonably be read, other than that the Pope himself is distancing himself from the causes of the sanctity of life and traditional marriage as much as he practically can?
What the hell can he be thinking? Can he not see how it knocks the legs out from under the global pro-life movement to tell them that they should all chill out about and not talk about abortion so much? Does he not know that these words will be used by enemies of everything the Church stands for, as rhetorical weapons brought to bear against those who fight for those things? That indeed, they already have been? And not only do his words encourage his enemies and undermine his allies, they make those allies look like fools for devoting their time and treasure to their – to his church’s – causes. It tells them, in so many words, that in doing so, they’re wasting time, thought, and energy that would better be expended on other pursuits (What, I wonder?). It tells them that their cause is lost, and that not only is there no point putting any great effort into it any longer, but that he, the Pope, the heir to St. Peter, has very little intention of supporting therm in any meaningful way.
And it’s not just this, but his statements on homosexuality, on atheism… they all become harder and harder to excuse or defend. I understand that any sinner can repent, seek God, and be forgiven. But this Pope’s statements come dangerously close to saying that unrepented sin is fine and disbelief will still get you into the Kingdom of Heaven as long as you’re a “good person” (Whatever that may mean, and by whatever standard that may be measured). If this is so, then what kind of fool am I – is any observant Christian – for believing, for praying, for repenting, and for avoiding sin, when I can have the same reward without bothering myself with all that effort and self-denial?
As a confirmed Catholic, these statements by the Pope cause a deep sense of anger and betrayal within me; a sense that the Church I’m getting today isn’t the same one I signed on to just a few short years ago. It makes me wonder if the Church is going the way of all the other institutions of the West – sliding bit by bit, by steady incrementalism, into the Cultural Marxist morass of late-stage modernity. All of which makes it increasingly hard to stick with Pope Francis, and, by extension, the Church he heads. I joined the Church; is the Church leaving me? Perhaps – the story of the Catholic Church over the last few decades has been that of one massive failure of leadership after another, and they seem to be getting worse instead of better. Having driven all the liberals and “cafeteria Catholics” away with their horrendous mishandling of the pedophilia scandals, will the Church’s leadership now drive away all the loyalists and conservatives by minimizing their core principles? And of so, what then? Irrelevance, in the mold of the Anglican church? Nothing else lies down that road.
One way or another, I’ll make no more excuses for statements like these. One or two of these kinds of statements could have been let slide as gaffes, but this is getting to be a pattern. If the Pope doesn’t mean these things he appears to say, then he needs – desperately needs – a minder with him whenever he’s within fifty feet of a microphone. If he did mean them, it’s a disaster for the faith, for the Church, and for its causes.