After the outrage and the Je suis un lapin Catholique (according to Google Translate, “I am a rabbit Catholic,” a supposed protest against what was actually a misquote of the Pope) posts, we have confirmation. Those who were offended at the Pope’s words got it wrong. In the article, "Pope Francis surprised by misunderstanding of his words on family :: Catholic News Agency (CNA),” we see that the Pope in no way meant to speak against large families.
Before I saw the actual transcripts, I was pretty sure I knew what it meant when I first saw what we now know was a media misquote. The transcripts confirm it. But that didn’t stop some Catholics from being angry at the Pope. Once again, people said that the Pope was to blame for speaking unclearly. Others believed the misquote was a condemnation of large families.
I have to say, I am tired of seeing this story repeated ever since his election to the Papacy. Every time there is a “shocking" story, it turns out that that the Pope was misquoted. The transcripts show that the media has taken their soundbites out of context, or misattributed what someone else said to him or misunderstood what he was even talking about. Yet every time I see some Catholics get up in arms and blame the Pope, disturbing the peace of those Catholics who want to trust but don’t know what to make of all the outrage. In some cases, this behavior could be considered Rash Judgment, condemned in the Catechism. The Catechism in paragraph 2478, quoting St. Ignatius of Loyola, warns us:
Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.
But in many comboxes and in blogs, we are seeing that some Catholics aren’t ready to give a favorable interpretation to the Pope’s words. They don’t seek to ask him how he understands his words. They assume he is wrong and even if that were true (it isn’t) then fail to correct in love. Instead we get people treating the Pope like some idiot uncle or a heretic out to change Church teaching.
It’s time for Catholics to treat the Pope with the love and respect he deserves as the Holy Father. It’s time for them to consider that the media got it wrong, not that the Pope. It’s time to get the facts first before blaming him. If we were to trust God more in His promise to protect the Church and put less trust in the media to report the Pope accurately, I think we would find we were less alarmed about the state of the Church.