So I enjoyed the Pope’s visit and was impressed with what he had to say. Unfortunately, a lot of people seem to have been unhappy with the visit, thinking he should have said more on topic A and less on topic B. So here’s another episode of Quick Quips where I put onto the internet the eye-rolling, teeth gritting thoughts I’ve had as I read the news, the blogs and the comments made essentially bashing the Pope. So here we go.
What Radical Nut Came Up With…?—Oh Wait...
So, did you hear the radical words uttered at the Papal Mass this morning in Philadelphia?
"Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries. Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh like a fire. You have stored up treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter. You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous one; he offers you no resistance."
What is this radical Marxist agenda being spouted?
Oh wait—the Pope didn't say that. That was from the Second Reading from today’s Mass, the Epistle of James 5:1-6. Maybe, just maybe, the Pope is not spouting Marxist views, but is actually teaching the parts of Christianity that we have forgotten.
So Who’s To Blame For Misinterpretation Now?
So some Catholics have trotted out the old “if he would only speak more clearly, people would not misinterpret him” lament. But after seeing the comments in the (secular) conservative sites where every old bit of anti-Catholic slander going back to the 16th century has been hurled at the Pope (things like “we deny the resurrection because we have a corpus on a crucifix while Protestants have an empty cross” and the old “works alone”), I have to ask—do you really think these people would even want to find out the truth about what a Catholic had to say (as opposed being comfortable in their bigotry)?
If Only The Pope Had...
I've encountered something coming up in blogs and on Facebook, saying that if only the Pope had mentioned abortion directly in his address to Congress, they could have defunded Planned Parenthood successfully in the vote that came up the same day. Personally, I don't believe it. That would require there to be enough Catholics in congress that could have swung the vote that were:
- Not already determined to vote their position regardless of what the Pope taught.
- So ignorant of the Church teaching up to now that if the Pope mentioning it directly, they would have said "Oh, wow, what the hell were we thinking? It’s bad for Catholics to support abortion?” after the Pope spoke.
Dissenting Catholics who think abortion to be "a right" haven't changed their views when faced with the Pope's predecessors and I doubt they'd change now either...
The Pope Was So Silent on Abortion That Even Planned Parenthood Spoke Against Him—Wait a Minute...
Also of note is the fact that while conservative Catholics denounced the Pope for not speaking out on abortion, Planned Parenthood denounced him for his pro-life stance, saying the Church needed to change her teaching. When the enemies of the Church know that the Pope is pro-life, maybe—just maybe—the concerned Catholics need to realize that his message is getting through.
Guess the Pope Who Said This...
Here’s a Papal document which speaks on the environment this way:
34. Nor can the moral character of development exclude respect for the beings which constitute the natural world, which the ancient Greeks—alluding precisely to the order which distinguishes it—called the “cosmos.” Such realities also demand respect, by virtue of a threefold consideration which it is useful to reflect upon carefully.
The first consideration is the appropriateness of acquiring a growing awareness of the fact that one cannot use with impunity the different categories of beings, whether living or inanimate—animals, plants, the natural elements—simply as one wishes, according to one s own economic needs. On the contrary, one must take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system, which is precisely the cosmos.”
The second consideration is based on the realization—which is perhaps more urgent—that natural resources are limited; some are not, as it is said, renewable. Using them as if they were inexhaustible, with absolute dominion, seriously endangers their availability not only for the present generation but above all for generations to come.
The third consideration refers directly to the consequences of a certain type of development on the quality of life in the industrialized zones. We all know that the direct or indirect result of industrialization is, ever more frequently, the pollution of the environment, with serious consequences for the health of the population.
Once again it is evident that development, the planning which governs it, and the way in which resources are used must include respect for moral demands. One of the latter undoubtedly imposes limits on the use of the natural world. The dominion granted to man by the Creator is not an absolute power, nor can one speak of a freedom to “use and misuse,” or to dispose of things as one pleases. The limitation imposed from the beginning by the Creator himself and expressed symbolically by the prohibition not to “eat of the fruit of the tree” (cf. Gen 2:16–17) shows clearly enough that, when it comes to the natural world, we are subject not only to biological laws but also to moral ones, which cannot be violated with impunity.
A true concept of development cannot ignore the use of the elements of nature, the renewability of resources and the consequences of haphazard industrialization—three considerations which alert our consciences to the moral dimension of development.
Pope Francis and Laudato Si? No. Sollicitudo rei Socialis by St. John Paul II, written in 1987. That’s right, almost 30 years ago.
That Guy From Nazareth Would Be A Lot Better Speaker if He Talked About the Unjust Romans...
Continuing the theme of “The Pope didn’t speak on X,” I was struck by how the Israelites and the Apostles constantly wanted to know when Jesus was going to speak out on the corrupt tax collectors, the Roman occupation, the Samaritans and so on. Jesus rebuked them for their attitudes. But wanting justice was not a bad thing in itself. However, when considering His mission, an approach which did not to condemn the sinners but to sought to bring them to salvation, what people wanted to hear and what they needed to hear were often two different things.
The Pope seems determined to follow Our Lord’s example in how He approaches things. He didn’t come as a firebrand preacher—you know, the type most people cross the street to avoid. He spoke with gentleness and encouragement, addressing the issues that maybe we need to hear, and not putting the other guy in his place. A lot of people don’t like that—but then again neither did the Pharisees.
Ultimately I think that people who approached the Pope’s visit with an open mind and heart, seeking to learn, came away satisfied. But those who approached the visit with the assumption that “that idiot is going to screw it up again…” came away disgruntled. I believe the Pope presented the faith in a gentle manner, speaking to a nation that has forgotten how one is to be good, hoping to get them to listen. But Catholics who wanted blood sports where the Pope denounced Pelosi, Obama, Biden and so on, I think they missed the gifts of the visit.