9 For this is a rebellious people,
Children who refuse
to listen to the instruction of the Lord;
10 Who say to the seers, “Do not see”;
to the prophets, “Do not prophesy truth for us;
speak smooth things to us, see visions that deceive!
11 Turn aside from the way! Get out of the path!
Let us hear no more
of the Holy One of Israel!” (Isaiah 30:9-11)
Monday, January 26, 2015
"This is a Rebellious People..."
Things are really getting out of hand, and falling much faster than I would have expected, but to some extent, I have to say I am not totally surprised that they are getting out of hand. Just not this fast and this irrationally. What we are seeing is the Pope besieged on both sides now. Conservative Catholics have been opposed to him almost from the word “Go,” determined to establish he is a liberal—if not a heretic. Liberal Catholics are beginning to turn on him now that his words in the Philippines have demonstrated he is solidly a Catholic. Both sides firmly believe he is in the “other” camp.
(If you want to know where I stand, regarding the Pope, I stand right here)
He is blamed for how others have misinterpreted his words. The allegations are that if he spoke clearly, people would not have misinterpreted him. But that is false reasoning which overlooks that the vast majority of people do not get their words from Vatican Information Service or Zenit or the like, and especially not from transcripts. They get their news from the secular media, which has routinely reported soundbites, ignoring the concept the quote (or partial quote) has come from. Every single time we have looked at a soundbite in context, it has turned out that the secular media has gotten it wrong. For example...
The Pope did not say “Who am I to judge?” in the sense of saying he was in favor of same sex relationships. He was saying it in the sense of speaking about a priest with a notorious past who repented. He did not say “breed like rabbits” and speak against large families. He spoke about a specific problem—some people who say they will indiscriminately have children without considering the consequences because they “Trust in” the Lord, which is basically “putting the Lord to the Test” (see Deuteronomy 6:16, Matthew 4:7, Luke 4:12). He did not call for recognizing same sex “marriage” and divorce and remarriage at the extraordinary synod of 2014. He called for finding ways of reaching out to people in these situations. He didn’t condemn capitalism as a system. He called for places where it was causing harm to reform.
I could go on and on, and I’m sure the media will...
In short, nothing that outraged Catholics was actually said as they interpreted the words to mean, but they still hold these statements against him. It’s even gotten to the point that when the Pope praised mothers and grandmothers for their role in passing on the faith, some people went so far as accusing him of ignoring or denigrating men!
But since these people are saying of something that is not so that it is so, we can say they do not speak the truth. The question is, do they know it is not the truth when they say it? Or do they just refuse to consider they could be misinterpreting him? Now, I am not God, so I cannot speak to these people and their intentions. But I can say that if they know they are speaking something that is not true, then that is lying—strongly condemned by the Catechism (CCC #2483-2487). But if they do not know whether what they are saying is true or not, then they are making a rash judgment—also condemned by the Catechism (CCC #2477-2478) and, given how these false accusations are damaging the reputation of the Holy Father, it can also be calumny (CCC #2479) if it is done with the hopes of discrediting him.
It's at the point where I think it is far more than just hostility to the misinterpreted words. I suspect that some people dislike the fact that the Holy Father is affirming Church teaching that is unpopular to their political views and seek to discredit him to justify their own disobedience. Some people out there point to the misrepresentations that make him seem indifferent to Church teaching or denigrating people or fomenting heresy, and say that the Pope can’t be trusted, and therefore his teachings can be ignored. Such people seem to be behaving as rebels. They don’t want to hear the unpopular Church teachings—I have heard some people say “Why doesn’t the Pope talk about this instead?” But the point is, if we accuse those Catholics who set aside the teachings on sexual morality as being “cafeteria Catholics,” then we must not be guilty of the same charge. Yes abortion, contraception and homosexual acts are sins. But they are not the only sins. If we choose to set aside teachings on other areas, then we are hypocrites.
So it’s important not to be a rebellious people. If we find ourselves challenged by a statement of the Pope, the first thing to do is to ask whether he actually said what was alleged. If it is not, we have to let go of any wrongly placed hurt and not blame him for misrepresentation. Second, we have to ask whether we are upset because his words are challenging us. If they are, then we should consider whether our problem is with God, rather than with the Vicar of Christ. When he teaches, we must listen.