I’ve often had to defend Pope Francis from the charge that he intends to change Church teaching. To me, it was obvious that what the Pope actually had to say about marriage and family was nothing like what his detractors accused him of. But his detractors continued to speak against the Pope, ignoring what he did say and relying on partial quotes. When they were shown to be in the wrong, the result was to claim the Vatican was “issuing more clarifications,” implying that the Church was involved with damage control, and that the Pope was in the wrong.
In other words, the Pope was blamed for saying what he did not say, and for not saying what he actually said. People relied on biased sources, whether secular news sources with whom a person agreed with ideologically, or from religious oriented blogs who have a strong hatred of the Pope and, because of that hatred, portray what he does in a negative spin. While the sources of these distorted presentation will no doubt bear responsibility for grossly misrepresenting the Pope, that does not excuse the members of the faithful from learning the truth about a claim before repeating it to others. Rash judgment is a sin.
The latest bit of shame involves the response that came in response to the interview of Cardinal Kasper where he was forced to admit that his proposals did not ever have the support of the Pope:
ARROYO: Well you did say, and the quote is: “Clearly this is what he wants,” and the Pope has approved of my proposal. [To admit the divorced and remarried to Communion] Those were the quotes from the time …
CARDINAL KASPER: No … he did not approve my proposal. The Pope wanted that I put the question [forward], and, afterwards, in a general way, before all the cardinals, he expressed his satisfaction with my talk. But not the end, not in the … I wouldn’t say he approved the proposal, no, no, no.
This was a point where opponents to the Pope constantly bashed him, accusing him of intending to change Church teaching (contrary to all evidence), and it turns out that it was all relying on a fabrication. The Pope had expressed an interest in finding out how to better reach out to Catholics estranged from the Church, but he never said anything about permitting the divorced and remarried to receive the Eucharist.
That hasn’t changed anything when it comes to the anti-Francis crowd. I’ve seen some call this “a clarification.” I’ve seen others accuse the Pope of telling Kasper to be the Fall Guy. They won’t admit the fact that the Pope never was guilty in the first place. They still accuse him of being a Marxist or a Modernist or a Heretic. Personally, I see these antics and am reminded of the Psalms:
19 You give your mouth free rein for evil;
you yoke your tongue to deceit.
20 You sit and speak against your brother,
slandering your mother’s son.
21 When you do these things should I be silent?
Do you think that I am like you?
I accuse you, I lay out the matter before your eyes
It is time for the “super Catholics” to consider the consequences of their actions. In being so certain of their righteousness and refusing to consider the possibility of error on their part, they cause division in the Church and disturb the peace of the faithful (cf. Acts 15:24). They have to ask themselves whether they will trust God and follow the Church, or whether they will trust in themselves and disobey the Church. The first choice leads to salvation, the other to ruin.