"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