For whatever reason, many secularists, and even several heterodox (or those tip-toeing the line between orthodoxy and heterodoxy) and liberal-minded Catholics, seem to think that Pope Francis is the first pope to have ever been compassionate or Christ-like. This is just empty rhetoric and does a disservice to all the great things previous popes in the last century have said about those who have been marginalized and treated unjustly in accordance with the dignity and love that is supposed to be given to every human being.What we have to realize is that Pope Francis is very different from Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
I had a nice, short conversation with the pastor of the church I went to for Mass this past Sunday. It was in regards to the pope's comments that week about the number of invalid marriages and what he had to say on cohabitating couples. Father mentioned what we all know: Pope Francis speaks off the cuff and exaggerates a bit. Kind of like when we're talking to someone and we say "I feel like everyone is against me." Well, no, not everyone is against you. There'd be 7 billion people that didn't like you then. Also, he mentioned, the pope wants to bring people into the Church. He doesn't want people to feel like they're not welcome, which is why he says that cohabitating couples have something there in their fidelity to each other. But sometimes, Father went on, he doesn't articulate things quite right because of the fact it's off the cuff. That's not to say that we don't get clear catechesis from Pope Francis, it's just that the times that he goes off the top of the head (which is often) is what makes the headlines. Especially on such hot-button issues as homosexuality and marriage.
It's obvious that the MSM doesn't make things better when the pope makes seemingly confusing statements. One comes from CNN which took pointers from those tiptoeing that fine line between orthodoxy and heterodoxy in Fr. James Martin and the heretical group New Ways Ministry which the USCCB has formally denounced. Led by the late Cardinal Francis George, the USCCB said:
"New Ways Ministry has recently criticized efforts by the Church to defend the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman and has urged Catholics to support electoral initiatives to establish same-sex "marriage." No one should be misled by the claim that New Ways Ministry provides an authentic interpretation of Catholic teaching and an authentic Catholic pastoral practice. Their claim to be Catholic only confuses the faithful regarding the authentic teaching and ministry of the Church with respect to persons with a homosexual inclination. Accordingly, I wish to make it clear that, like other groups that claim to be Catholic but deny central aspects of Church teaching, New Ways Ministry has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church and that they cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful..."It's funny, in a sad way of course, that media conglomerates like CNN will only take opinions of those that ratify the position that there is nothing damaging or sinful in regard to sexual activity outside of a valid marriage. Of course there are no references or questions asked to legitimate Catholic ministries such as Courage, or priests and prelates like Cardinal Raymond Burke or Msgr. Charles Pope. Why are those that are professing to be Catholic also stand in direct opposition to what the Church teaches? Why do they use the words of Pope Francis in a twisted manner to suit their erroneous belief that there is nothing immoral about sex outside of marriage, between homosexual couples or not? Indeed, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) released "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons" in 2003 under then Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, which in part emphatically states:
"Moral conscience requires that, in every occasion, Christians give witness to the whole moral truth, which is contradicted both by approval of homosexual acts and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons."
"In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection."Even though CNN and others would never write off on it, this is why it would be better if leaders in the Church with a more orthodox understanding of Catholic theology such as Msgr. Pope would be more apt to speak about such things than the editors of American Magazine. And this brings me back to the whole issue of the Pope's words not really being that revolutionary. We see here that the CDF has been well aware that the discrimination against those with same-sex attraction is absolutely wrong. Such people do need to be accompanied as Pope Francis says, because we're all sinners, and those of us of good will are trying to seek God's will; that is, to avoid sin so we may reach our heavenly home to be with Him for eternity. This is why we must share the whole Gospel with our brothers and sisters, even the parts that aren't "politically correct" in the West today. This is how we regain morality in a largely apathetic world, and starts on a personal level.
The Venerable Fulton J. Sheen said:
“A good start toward this collaboration of men of good will would be to declare a moratorium on name-calling. Love God and love for our neighbor applies to everyone, whomsoever he be, and regardless of his race, class or color. There are millions who do not share the joys of a Catholic that come from an absolution or a visit to the Real Presence of Christ on the altar, but if any one of us shuts up the bowels of His mercy against a stranger in need, whomsoever he be, the blessing of God cannot be upon him. Men of good will: unite! March separately according to the light of your consciences as presently given, but strike together for the moral betterment of the world."In a more direct manner towards those with same-sex attraction, then-Cardinal Josef Ratzinger said this in the CDF's 1986 letter on "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons":
"It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law."
|The Venerable Fulton J. Sheen|
"But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase...
"We recognize, of course, that in great measure the clear and successful communication of the Church's teaching to all the faithful, and to society at large, depends on the correct instruction and fidelity of her pastoral ministers. The Bishops have the particularly grave responsibility to see to it that their assistants in the ministry, above all the priests, are rightly informed and personally disposed to bring the teaching of the Church in its integrity to everyone.
"The characteristic concern and good will exhibited by many clergy and religious in their pastoral care for homosexual persons is admirable, and, we hope, will not diminish. Such devoted ministers should have the confidence that they are faithfully following the will of the Lord by encouraging the homosexual person to lead a chaste life and by affirming that person's God-given dignity and worth."Perhaps this encouragement Cardinal Ratzinger speaks of needs to be made manifest more by our leaders. You can't have the whole truth if you only focus on one thing. I think the Pope has made the truth clear throughout his time as a bishop and as Pope, yet those things are rarely reported on in the MSM. Remember when he mentioned he was "a son of the Church" in regard to the "five non-negotiables"? Probably not, because it was during the same interview that gave us the "Who am I to judge" misconstrument that the secular media loves to throw out there ad nauseam. But what of the others the Cardinal speaks of in this letter? Those that are supposed to clearly communicate the Church's teachings? Why aren't the people giving commentary to these outlets, such as the interview to CNN linked above, remembering this instruction? This is why prayers must be continually offered for our bishops and pastors, so that they may stay on the road of orthodoxy and present the Catholic faith in it's entirety. For Jesus is the Truth, the Way and the Life. He's not just "some" of the Truth... He's all of it. Members of the Church have marginalized people and done hateful things to them in the past, but as seen above, the Church has always taught we treat others with compassion. Pope Francis taught nothing new. In addition, it's clear what priests and bishops must do in regards to transmitting the faith. It's high time every single one of us in the Church stop having this selective amnesia.