Friday, August 02, 2013

Why are Catholics so worried about the Pope and what he says?


"He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."

The problem with the Pope - really?

Why do they attribute some sort of strategy behind the Holy Father's response to journalist's questions?  His answers are matter of fact - simple, clear, understandable.  He knows exactly what he is doing and saying - but I seriously doubt he's playing war games with journalists.  I also do not think the Holy Father needs handlers to censor him.

Yet EWTN spokesman Raymond Arroyo seems to think the Holy Father needs handlers, that he needs distancing from speaking directly to people - lest he be misinterpreted.
The entire episode reminds us that papal handlers do have their place. As cumbersome as they are, and as much as they distance the pontiff from his people, handlers can protect the Pope from this sort of misinterpretation. Off the cuff, vigorous expressions have their place, but so do unambiguous, vetted statements—especially when dealing with a media unversed in Church teaching.  
Likewise, others express worry - 'concern' over how the MSM and dissidents will misinterpret what the Pope said, and most especially, what he meant.  Just about everyone from self-appointed apologist-theologians with their own brand of online tenure and EWTN sponsorship, to Cardinals and bishops bend over backwards to clarify that the Pope's words were somehow impossible for ordinary people to understand without a clear understanding of what the catechism teaches.  They claim the Pope speaking in ordinary language is a "problem" - because his words may be hi-jacked by the enemy.

Don't cry for me Argentina.

I commented on a post a few days ago and said I doubt the Pope sees others as enemies.  I also doubt he needs handlers.  He's from Argentina people.  He lived through some pretty gruesome history and his life was anything but comfortable.  He knows how words are twisted, how propaganda works against the Church.  People are concerned about what and how the Pope speaks?  That's absurd.  Who do you think you are?

You want to censor the Pope?  You want handlers to keep him distant from the people?  You are afraid that he will be misinterpreted?  That's totally hypocritical.  That's like Peter remonstrating with Christ, trying to hold him back, saying he shouldn't have to suffer, he should avoid the cross.  Christ whipped around and said, 'get behind me Satan'.  The Gospel story should be sufficient to put us in our place.

The Pope said what he said.  Stop trying to speak for him.

Every Pope has said things and has done things that have been twisted to suit agendas.  How is that our concern?  Why do we think we have to worry about how the Pope's words are perceived?  Haven't we lived through misinterpretation of actual documents of Vatican II?  What about St. JPII kissing the Koran?  How about Benedict's condom statement?  It is not long ago pious pundits were worried Benedict wasn't allowed to do what he wanted, that his desires were not being met - handlers/bureaucrats were holding things up.  (Seriously - do you people talk and write so much you no longer remember what you say?)

Aren't official documents from the Popes and the CDF routinely ignored or reinterpreted to suit those whose responsibility it is to teach and abide by them?  Are not pastoral concessions/dispensations routinely made for Catholics in all sorts situations?  How about married priests?  How about annulments, which secular critics refer to as Catholic divorce.  How about admitting men with homosexual inclination to seminary?  Kind of an inconvenient truth, huh?

You are worried that the faith and Catholic teaching will be misunderstood?  That the Pope should only speak with prepared theological texts?  This is exactly what the Pope has spoken against - distancing the faithful through over dependence on academic, theological, dogmatic dissertation and cold, official statements in ecclesial language.

The Pope speaks directly, plainly.

He is the son of Italian immigrants.  He is the type of man who sits in the kitchen and talks with the family and friends who stop by.  He's ordinary.  He welcomes persons into his life.  He went into the favelas and made friends with ordinary people and spoke their language, shared their concerns.  When he says something, he means it.  He welcomes sinners and eats with them.  He doesn't brow beat theology and dogma and damnation every time he opens his mouth.

He doesn't need holier-than-thou handlers watering down or icing over the faith.

UPDATE 8/5/13:  But if you want to see the hand wringing in action - check out Fr. Z's post here.

18 comments:

  1. Lets be fair here. These people aren't making the bucks for nothing. Whether your caught-up in the vortex or muddling through the holy mainstream or tossed in so-called cafeteria queue it is hard work getting/making the Pope say what you [whoever you may be] want him to say when he speaks so plainly and without guile such that anyone can easily understand his own intentions.

    I mean, if this Pope lives long enough some people may become redundant. Well, one can dream, eh.

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    1. Very true. Isn't it funny that Francis the Holy Father, is so much more humble, quiet and gentle then a lot of the "media/internet," Catholic "personalities." He shakes up the "establishment," just as Jesus "shook em up," back in the day. Keep talking Francis, let the handlers go shuffle some paperwork (isnt there a banking crisis that they can be working on) and let you go out to the people and talk.

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    2. He considers homosexual acts and masturbation to be sins, Mack. You don't. You don't fool us.

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    3. Jericho dude....quit fixating on masturbation please...this is a family friendly blog.

      Maybe if you pick up some hobbies, gardening, sports, paint by number kits....

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  2. Amen! I find myself spending less and less time at other blogs and some Catholic sites due to the hysteria. Over every. Little. Thing. It is a relief to come here and read your sensible and well thought out words....even if I am still having sinful, covetous thoughts about your garden....

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    1. I agree with everything except the part about the garden. You should see MY garden--a chef's dream come true. Of course it helps that Oregon has an incredibly long growing season...

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  3. Hang on there Jane. Are you saying there are Catholic sites other than Mr. Nelson's?

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  4. Of course not! Mean culpa!!!

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. MEA ..... I love autocorrect

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  5. This was brilliant. I'm gonna link.

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    1. Really? Thanks. It was just 'off the cuff'.

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  6. I don't understand why any Catholic would be upset by anything the pope has said. For one thing, off-the-cuff comments are his own personal opinion and not ex cathedra dictums. But I have not heard him say anything that did not make sense to me.

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  7. Thank you for a very good post

    If you want to know what Pope Francis said, ignore the headlines and read the transcripts on the Vatican websites, Zenit, Vatican Insider and the other reputable sites. What he has said so far is perfectly intelligible and reasonable.

    If you recall Pope Benedict XVI had similar problems. The media would take a few words out of context and distort what he was saying. When you looked at the reputable sources for the full texts, what he said was simply the truth. The classic example of that was of course The Regensburg Address.

    Benedict was hated and pilloried by people inside the Church and outside. They distorted what he was trying to say and do. Hopefully that will not happen with Pope Francis

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  8. Why doesn't anyone trust the Holy Spirit to allow what needs to be said be said? People outside of the Church are trusting Francis and being drawn to him precisely because he isn't being handled--because he's speaking his mind and doing what he wants, and they like what they see and hear.

    This was an excellent post. I have become a daily reader since Kat or someone said a few weeks ago, "If you're not reading Abbey Roads, you should be." Love your art as well. God Bless.

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  9. Thank you for this, Terry. Who do so many Catholics feels it is their job to sit as judge and jury over the Vicar of Christ? Unless he lives up to their expectations and says and does things the way they feel he should, he is condemned. A traditionalist friend of mine forwarded an email from someone ranting and raving about the Pope and specifically about his "gay" comment, and actually called the Pope stupid and said he is a chastisement from God upon the Church. I feel exactly as you do in regard to these kind of comments, "Get thee behind me, Satan."

    This post will not win you any awards over at Pewsitter, which seems to love Pope bashing these days.

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  10. Linked in my own special way. This is excellent.

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  11. I am not one of those worried about our new Holy Father. His frankness has opened the conversation in a terrific way! But as with any recent pope, there are those in the press and the public very ready to willfully misrepresent what he says, and in those instances, I feel very free to weigh in. It is an open door to discuss what the teaching of the Church actually is, which many find to be more humane than they supposed (though, of course, it infuriates others).

    So, there is a problem, but it's not the pope. Of course lay people should be part of the conversation. Pope Francis should be able to count on us to join in his work of evangelization.

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