Is Pope Francis Starting His Own Reformation?
Though some Catholic commentators have warned that the main-stream media have purposefully manipulated some of Pope Francis’ words from his recent controversial interview, one writer questions whether the new pontiff is actually detached from the real world.
Writing at Aleteia, David L. Gray acknowledges that “it’s gotten substantially worrisome when you get an email blast from the heretical and dissenting Catholic organization, Call to Action, stating how encouraged they are ‘by Pope Francis’s remarks in his interview.’”
While Gray finds Francis’ interview in the Jesuit magazine America, “insightful” and providing “clarity into the beautiful charisma” of the pope, he ultimately decides that Francis has taken his own personal “total life experience” and concluded that it should be universal for all, imposing it on the Universal Church.
Gray describes what the Argentine pontiff is proposing as the “Reformation of Pope Francis.”
One of Francis’ most oft-quoted comments from the interview is the following:
We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the Church, for that matter, is clear, and I am a son of the Church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.
LifeSiteNews reported Friday that, in response to this comment, the United States’ largest pro-abortion organization, NARAL, posted an image on its Facebook page, thanking Pope Francis for his comments and signing its message to him from “Pro-choice women everywhere.”
Similarly, the New York Times published an article entitled, “Pope Says Church Is ‘Obsessed’ With Gays, Abortion, and Birth Control.”
Gray’s response to Francis’ words:
Is it universally true that it is not necessary [Gray’s emphasis] to talk about the intrinsic evils of abortion, abortifacient drugs, and gay marriage as often as possible? Absolutely not. I don’t know about Argentina, but I do know the world that I encounter everyday is on the precipice of losing countless generations to moral relativism. It is a world in which absolute truth does not exist. Indeed, it is a world that needs to hear salvation proclaimed and the faith catechized, but it is also a world that needs to be repeatedly told that life has value, that sex is marriage, and that marriage is for opposite genders. They need to be repeatedly told these things because the enemy is repeatedly telling them that life does not have value, that sex is for recreation, and that marriage is not gender specific. It is at the point now that whether we can first reach them through the Gospel or through natural law or through reason, we must help to save them by any moral means, lest they destroy themselves.
Addressing the issue of moral relativity and the secular push for “tolerance” in a recent interview, Cardinal Raymond Burke, America’s most senior Catholic prelate, said, “There is far too much silence--people do not want to talk about it because the topic is not ‘politically correct.’ But we cannot be silent any longer or we will find ourselves in a situation that will be very difficult to reverse.”
Similarly, in an article published by The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, about Francis’ recent comments about abortion and sexuality, California Bishop Robert Vasa, while recognizing the need for pastoral leadership, remarked:
Is there a need for teaching about those things? Absolutely. Are there some folks who overstep the boundary and say, 'OK we're preaching about this every single Sunday?' Well, there may be. But there's a vast majority of people who never talk about it.
Referring to abortion as a “social justice issue,” Vasa said that if “everyone talked about it a little, there would be fewer who feel the need to talk about it more.”
As someone who has been devoted to the “culture of life,” Steve Jalsevac, Managing Director of LifeSiteNews, states that, while he supports Francis’ emphasis on conversion and evangelization, he takes issue with his statement that we need not go on about issues of the sanctity of human life and marriage.
To me, Francis is right about clergy needing to get out of their chanceries and parishes and expensive institutions and going out to bring the people back to God. However, at the same time, I think he greatly underestimates the severe need for much preaching, teaching and especially encouragement that is still needed on the life and family issues and movements.
Gray goes on to assert that Francis’ words reflect so much of his own personal experience in Argentina that “it is as if our Pope is detached from the real world; as if he doesn’t recognize the hour.”
Troubled by what he views as Francis’ “indifference towards moral relativism,” Gray argues that the world really does need to hear clear moral truth.
“While in his new job, the Holy Father doesn’t yet seem to care to make the distinction between what the world needs to hear versus what the world needs to see,” he writes. “But if his indifference towards moral relativism is embraced in the West, it is the West who may not survive.”
Perhaps summing up the pope’s not-so-orthodox remarks in a nutshell, John Allen, Jr., writing at National Catholic Reporter, said that to conservative Catholics “it must now seem powerfully obvious that this just isn’t their pope.”
Writing that, if “truth be told, the liberal wing of the church will be cheered by the new pope’s language,” Allen concludes that the election of Francis to the papacy basically represents “a breakthrough for the Catholic middle.”