"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Pope Francis makes private phone calls.

"No, we do not listen in on the Holy Father's phone calls
 - check with United States NSA."*

Everyone knows the story by now.

The Pope called an Argentine woman married to a divorced man.  The woman's husband was the first to inform the media - claiming the Holy Father told his wife she could go to Communion - that she was doing nothing wrong.  The implication being it is now permitted that divorced and remarried Catholics may receive the sacraments.  Even the Pope cannot say that a sin is not a sin.  Tongues are wagging, but none of us know the details of the alleged conversation.

Did the Pope really say that? - The Vatican is not commenting.
"It's between the Pope and the woman," said the Rev. Thomas Rosica, a consultant for the Vatican press office. - CNN
Take note - the husband alerted the media - not the wife.  The Pope did not tell the husband what the wife claimed he said to her.  Only the wife spoke to the Pope, because she had written a letter 6 months earlier. She only told her husband what the Pope had to say to her after she got off the phone.  I suspect an excited somebody may have gotten a few things mixed up - or maybe heard what they wanted to hear.  Perhaps the wife didn't tell her husband the whole story?  Maybe the couple already lives together as brother and sister?

We don't know.  We won't know unless the Holy Father makes a statement or someone in authority issues a clarification.

That said, the advice given to another penitent should remain confidential, between the pastor and the penitent.  One size does not fit all.  We just do not know what was said.  Truth be told, what was said is none of our business nor is it our responsibility.

Just remember, Catholic doctrine on marriage and divorce cannot change.

St. John of the Cross wrote several precautions on how to be a good religious.  Though they are directed more or less to cloistered religious, the 'spirit' of his doctrine may be helpful for ordinary Catholics to consider.  Especially for those of us who can be distracted by sensationalized stories regarding the Pope and what he purportedly said in private conversations.  The following precaution pertains to the attitude the subject should have towards his superior.

The second precaution
12. Let the second precaution be that you always look on the superior as though on God, no matter who he happens to be, for he takes God's place. And note that the devil, humility's enemy, is a great and crafty meddler in this area. Much profit and gain come from considering the superior in this light, but serious loss and harm lie in not doing so. Watch, therefore, with singular care that you not dwell on your superior's character, mode of behavior, ability, or any other methods of procedure, for you will so harm yourself as to change your obedience from divine to human, being motivated only by the visible traits of the superior, and not by the invisible God whom you serve through him.
Your obedience is vain and all the more fruitless in the measure that you allow the superior's unpleasant character to annoy you or his good and pleasing manners to make you happy. For I tell you that by inducing religious to consider these modes of conduct, the devil has ruined a vast number of them in their journey toward perfection. Their acts of obedience are worth little in God's sight, since they allow these considerations to interfere with obedience.
If you do not strive, with respect to your personal feelings, to be unconcerned about whether this one or another be superior, you will by no means be a spiritual person, nor will you keep your vows well. - Collected Works
Official Catholic teaching is not released over the phone or through social media.

*UPDATE: What Fr. Lombardi really said:

Several telephone calls have taken place in the context of Pope Francis’ personal pastoral
Since they do not in any way form part of the Pope's public activities, no information or
comments are to be expected from the Holy See Press Office.
That which has been communicated in relation to this matter, outside the scope of personal
relationships, and the consequent media amplification, cannot be confirmed as reliable, and is
a source of misunderstanding and confusion.
Therefore, consequences relating to the teaching of the Church are not to be inferred from
these occurrences. - Vatican Radio, 4/24/14

Jimmy Akin has the best analysis of this story, go here.

"Listen here! I've just about had it with your prank calls!"


  1. Maybe it's a good idea for these papal phone calls to end?

    1. Fr. Blake suggested as much.

  2. Anonymous8:10 AM

    The woman in question is not a penitent, though, is she? For one thing, one can't make a confession over the phone and, for another, she is not doing anything wrong (according to the report of what the Pope supposedly said).

    1. I didn't know how to refer to her - my thought was the confidentiality that should exist between the one giving advice and the one receiving it, as in spiritual direction.

  3. As a parish priest, I agree with Michael that Pope F needs to reconsider these phone calls in light of this serious problem that this call has caused esp for those of us who are parish priests trying to follow church teaching, while this seems like a nice pastoral thing to do it shows why no other popes have done this as far as we know since it is so easily misinterpreted. Pope Francis sometimes seems to forget he is pope and not simply a parish priest.

    1. I can only imagine what you must face after news stories like this. What must hrt was the comment that some priests are more papist than the pope. I so hope he didn't say that! God bless you Father.

    2. Anonymous12:48 PM

      I do hope you hang in there, Father. We need your witness as a faithful priest to Christ the High Priest and His Truth. Your witness does matter.

  4. By not commenting, the Vatican is letting the story as told stand. What the world now knows and is accepting as true are the comments by the husband. Comments not corrected by the wife.

    The entire world now thinks the Church is changing its teaching, and while it may be true that Church teaching cannot change, nevertheless the entire world will soon see the Church as having changed and will live their lives as if it has changed.

    But I'm choosing to look on the bright side. At least this is solving the annulment scandal because soon virtually no one will seek one because adultery will no longer be seen as sinful, so why bother getting an annulment.

    1. I worked with a woman whose husband got an annulment after he left her for another woman and remarried. It was devastating for her. I knew another woman whose husband left her and remarried, though he never sought an annulment - she considered the sacramental bond remained and continued to wear her wedding ring. Divorce is a terrible, devastating event.

      The comments today help me realize how disconcerting all of this is, how deeply it pierces the heart of those who struggle to live faithful lives after a marriage has been 'taken away' - broken, stolen.

    2. My experience with annulments is the same. It's 'charity' towards the one spouse while ignoring the destruction to the other spouse and their children.

      When I first read this story, my first thought was "typical, the wife who got shafted by her adulterous husband and forced to live a life of loneliness is barely even a consideration" I wonder what the husband's wife thinks of her husband getting a reported papal approval for his crime against her. For her sake, I hope Pope Francis makes one more phone call to her.

  5. There's nothing we can do about this. At least there's nothing I can do about it. Here's my roadmap: live the Beatitudes and perform the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy while constantly asking the Lord for forgiveness because I don't do these things very well.

    1. That's pretty much my plan too.

    2. Frank wins Best Comment In This Thread Award from your's truly. - this won't prevent me from adding my own nonsense but I do want to acknowledge my better.

  6. This is an interesting phenomenon in the day of Internet news and communication. Things were different in the old days, and Popes, just like everyone else, need to take the current realities into consideration.

    1. My thoughts exactly. Every action has a consequence and it seems like this one is gonna cost somebody something, somewhere.

      Perhaps the novelty is wearing off, I don't know.

      Our Lord Jesus Christ can sort it all out with Papa Francis and all concerned.

      I have bigger fish to fry...my own personal ongoing conversion though of late it has been a struggle and I am getting lazy...but Frank's roadmap is the best course of action...the safer route too.

      I am going to keep trying. ^^

  7. Terry, the way you wrote this post is the best answer to 'Should I continue to blog?' A definite 'yes'. I calmed down after reading your post...even if the Pope didn't say what he is alleged to have said, it's obvious there are mighry forces at work; as Fr. Blake wrote, we're dealing with direct words of Our Lord's...anything different is anti-Christ

    1. We need to support one another in prayer. Thanks Father!

  8. Let's make sure that in condemning spurious and easy annulments, we don't end up decrying ALL of them. I just went through one, and I even wore my wedding ring for the three years it took. My "marriage" lasted for less than 2 years, and my "wife" divorced me *because* I felt unable to avoid Catholic teaching any longer.

    There's a basic fact that many marriages contracted in the past 50 years have been conducted with severely deficient understanding of the duties and obligations of Catholic marriage and vows, by people who often speak the vows and don't mean what they should mean.

    I believe my "marriage" was invalid, and I thank God that I now have the opportunity to pursue a good and holy marriage in line with Catholic teaching.

  9. Poor Pope Francis..you know he is catching holy hell from this mummies in the Vatican! On his behalf he is a guy..so he was probably watching soccer and just said..Uh, huh..yea..Uh,huh.." and she being a woman heard what she wanted.

  10. Song for this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lLmB8PBsXo

  11. "We don't know. We won't know" but that won't prevent the paid and unpaid Catholic blaghosspear from having at. "Official Catholic teaching is not released over the phone or through social media. " Hang on one minute, Terry, that sounds far too much like common sense and perhaps even Charity.


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.