I think it's clear that for whatever reason some people in the "mainstream media" are willfully misunderstanding Pope Francis. They seem to have decided that anything Pope Francis says is awesome and revolutionary, while everything that Pope Benedict said (or says) was/is backwards and repressive.
But, I happen to think it's good that the Pope is in the news and hopefully it will lead more people to investigate what he's really talking about. Mostly, it doesn't surprise me that people who don't understand Catholicism don't understand Pope Francis' message.
However, I am a bit frustrated with people who should know better who maintain that Pope Francis has a responsibility to choose his words in such a way that they couldn't possibly be misrepresented by anyone. That's just not possible!
Pope Francis is speaking the TRUTH in a loving, non-radical, non-progressive way. It's HIS way. And it seems to be reaching people.
I still have a great fondness for Pope Benedict. Pope Benedict's way is really more my personal style. But I do like how the love shines through in everything that Pope Francis says.
And as much as people on both extremes of this debate would like to claim that Pope Francis is saying something new, may I offer you this? . . .
"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 …
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.
I say this also thinking about the preaching and content of our preaching."
--Pope Francis 2013
"I remember, when I used go to Germany in the 1980s and '90s, that I was asked to give interviews and I always knew the questions in advance. They concerned the ordination of women, contraception, abortion and other such constantly recurring problems.
If we let ourselves be drawn into these discussions, the Church is then identified with certain commandments or prohibitions; we give the impression that we are moralists with a few somewhat antiquated convictions, and not even a hint of the true greatness of the faith appears. I therefore consider it essential always to highlight the greatness of our faith - a commitment from which we must not allow such situations to divert us.
In this perspective I would now like to continue by completing last Tuesday's reflections and to stress once again: what matters above all is to tend one's personal relationship with God, with that God who revealed himself to us in Christ."
--Pope Benedict XVI 2006
So . . . different years, different Popes, same Church, same hat, same message.
Dwija at House Unseen, Life Unscripted wrote a beautiful post called The Love Comes First in which she reminds us (with her own personal story) that Pope Francis' style is one we would all do well to remember, as people are rarely converted by throwing a bunch of rules at them.
The rules are there (and the rules ARE love), but as she points out, the love and understanding and Christian charity have to come first.
Here are some other Popey (Papish?) links from the last week or so, if you need to catch up . . .
From the horses' mouth (the highlights): An Interview with Pope Francis
The whole kit and caboodle: A Big Heart Open to God
Fr. Frank Pavone clears up some misunderstandings: I was having dinner with the Pope when worried pro-lifers started contacting me about his interview
“When I first found out I had cancer, I didn't know what to pray for. I didn't know if I should pray for healing or life or death. Then I found peace in praying for what my folks call, 'God's perfect will.' As it evolved, my prayer has become, 'Lord, let me live until I die.' By that I mean I want to live, love, and serve fully until death comes. If that prayer is answered, how long really doesn't matter. Whether it's just a few months or a few years is really immaterial.”
― Sister Thea Bowman, F.S.P.A.
(December 29, 1937 – March 30, 1990)
Golly, am I ever SERIOUS this week. Changing gears . . .
In case you've been doubting my geek-cred, I would like to present to you our two geekified by me iPads . . .
|Back: Map of Middle Earth by Daniel Reeve
Lock Screen: Hobbit Panorama by David T Wenzel
Home Screen: Conversations With Smaug by J.R.R. Tolkein
|Back: Doctor Hoo by Pu-sama at Deviant Art
Front: Same concept, longer scarf
Lock Screen: T.A.R.D.I.S. wallpaper
Home Screen: It's BIGGER on the Inside!
The coverings for the front and back are just big stickers that I custom made at skinit. They help protect the iPad from scratches and whatnot, but mostly are just super-fun.
And if, hypothetically, you dropped your one-day-old iPad on the bathroom floor and shattered the corner, this would hide any evidence of that.
This week we went on a really awesome field trip to Riley's Farm
in Yucaipa, CA. If you live anywhere in Southern California I cannot recommend it enough.
They have a Living History program with costumed re-enactors who were knowledgeable, funny, and always in character. There were tons of guided activities for the kids, plus I got to buy a delicious chicken pot pie and apple pie to bring home on the way out. There's nothing like letting someone else cook dinner after a busy day.
The farm is pretty far out of town, but we didn't hit much traffic, which in LA is really saying something. On the way home, however, I had another run-in with my arch-nemesis: California Freeway Signs.
I needed to get on the 10 West (I know you people in Chicago think it's weird to call it THE 10, but that's how we roll) to get home. I know because my GPS told me. But when I got to the on ramp, my choices were not 10 East or 10 West, they were "Beaumont" or "Lancaster."
Now, I am the first to admit that I am not an expert navigator. In fact, it is possible that I rely on my eleven year old son to find places if my GPS fails. But REALLY, I'm supposed to know if I want to get home via "Beaumont" or "Lancaster"? I have no idea where either of those places is! And I grew up in Southern California. How in the world are tourists supposed to navigate?
Anyway, I had a 50-50 chance. I picked right. We got home. But I was still kinda mad.
Have a great weekend! We're planning our annual Michaelmas party at which there will be feasting and beating on the devil with swords. Check back Sunday for all the details!