Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Francis' latest interview

The pope has taken part in another interview . You can read about it at NCR and in TIME magazine and at the BBC. You can read an English translation of the interview at ZENIT. I'd just like to comment on some of what he said (quoted from the ZENIT translation) ...

The scandals that perturbed the life of the Church fortunately are now in the past. On the delicate topic of the abuse of minors, philosophers Besancon and Scruton among others, asked you to raise your voice against fanaticism and the bad faith of the secularized world that doesn’t respect childhood much.
Holy Father: I wish to say two things. The cases of abuse are terrible because they leave very profound wounds. Benedict XVI was very courageous and opened the way. And, following that way, the Church advanced a lot, perhaps more than anyone. The statistics on the phenomenon of violence against children are shocking, but they also show clearly that the great majority of the abuses come from the family environment and from people who are close. The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution that moved with transparency and responsibility. No one else did as much. And yet, the Church is the only one being attacked.

This is very discouraging ... the pope's assertions are absurd and shameful in the face of decades of worldwide abuse and cover-ups that only came to light because of investigative reporting and the work of civil authorities. Read what the editors at NCR wrote to Francis about his words here.

Many countries have regulated civil unions. Is it a path that the Church can understand? But up to what point?
Holy Father: Marriage is between one man and one woman. The secular States want to justify civil unions to regulate different situations of coexistence, spurred by the need to regulate economic aspects between persons as, for instance, to ensure healthcare. Each case must be looked at and evaluated in its diversity.

Sorry, this is not the wonderful surprise that some are suggesting ... Francis said/did as much back when he was in Argentina. And anyway, this is so too little too late. No one is going to give up on the justice of marriage equality for the consolation prize of civil unions. And meanwhile, the disingenuous back-pedalingg has already begun.

How will the role of women be promoted within the Church?
Holy Father: Casuistry doesn’t help in this case either. It’s true that women can and must be more present in decision-making posts of the Church. But I would call this a promotion of a functional type. And with that alone, one doesn’t advance much. Rather, we must think that the Church has the feminine article, “la”: it is feminine by origin. Theologian Urs von Balthasar worked a lot on this topic: the Marian principle guides the Church by the hand of the Petrine principle. The Virgin is more important than any Bishop and any of the Apostles. The theological reflection is already underway. Cardinal [Stanislaw] Rylko [president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity], together with the Council of the Laity, is working in this direction with many expert women.

Sigh. Another case of too little too late. Depressing that Francis references Hans Urs von Balthasar on women ... he once wrote a complementarianist paper on why women couldn't be priests. And all the Marian stuff - yikes! The pope doesn't seem to get that giving women some managerial jobs at the Vatican will not at all address the women's ordination issue. I'd say most women want to be priests for the same reasons most men want to ... they feel called by God ... it's not about getting a management level job. See what William Barry SJ and Francis Clooney SJ have written about women being called by God.

Half a century after Paul VI’s encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” can the Church take up again the topic of birth control? Your confrere, Cardinal [Carlo Maria] Martini [the late Archbishop of Milan] believed it was now time.
Holy Father: It all depends on how the text of “Humanae Vitae”is interpreted. Paul VI himself, towards the end, recommended to confessors much mercy and attention to concrete situations. But his genius was prophetic, as he had the courage to go against the majority, to defend moral discipline, to apply a cultural brake, to oppose present and future neo-Malthusianism. The object is not to change the doctrine, but it is a matter of going into the issue in depth and to ensure that the pastoral ministry takes into account the situations of each person and what that person can do. This will also be discussed on the path to the Synod.

Really? Good luck with that. Despite the pope's popularity, people are not being swayed by him into accepting failed doctrines ... there is no way that Francis will be able to sell Humanae Vitae. It was rejected when Paul VI wrote it and it is even more so rejected now ...

More than 90 percent of Catholics in Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Spain and France support the use of contraception. Those less inclined to support it were in the Philippines (68 percent), Congo (44 percent) and Uganda (43 percent). In the United States, 79 percent of Catholics support using contraception.

Overall I found the interview disappointing .... Francis is not the pope I had hoped for.


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