Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Reading the Holy Father's words in context ...

I have been waiting all week for this visit.

Now back to regular posting...

"This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign - but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah." - Luke 11

What he says comes from the heart, in this he reminds me of the saints - especially the paternal saints - Jesuit fathers, parish priests who were fathers to their parishes, missionary priests and bishops who mingled and shared the lives of the poor.  I think many of the old ladies online are being led astray by some of the specious clerical commentaries, as well as the incessant criticisms made by former seminarians and theological students who seem to adhere to a strictly legalistic interpretation of what the Pope says and does.  There is a conservative element entrenched in right wing politics unable to see beyond their own agendas, fearful of counter political agendas, always judging by American human standards, that which is God's providential action in our midst.  They 'pull-quote' papal allocution's to give the impression the Holy Father is unfaithful to Catholic teaching.    As today's Gospel affirms (for me at least), in this particular Apostolic visit to Mexico,  "there is something greater than Solomon here, there is something different from Jonah here."

Pewsitter and RomeReports pulled the following quote from the Holy Father's address to families - as if to suggest the Pope is approving irregular marriages:
"I prefer wounded families because they are the result of a true love." - RR

Yet what follows is what the Holy Father actually said about his love for those who struggle, even though they may be in irregular circumstances and even illicit marriages:

The meeting began with testimonies from a young couple; a family made up of divorced parents in a new relationship; Manuel, a disabled adolescent; Beatriz, a single mother, and various other couples from the diocese of Tapachula who had been married for many years.
"Today we see how on different fronts the family is weakened and questioned. It is regarded as a model which has done its time, but which has no place in our societies; these, claiming to be modern, increasingly favour a model based on isolation. … It is true that family life is not always easy, and can often be painful and stressful but, as I have often said referring to the Church, I prefer a wounded family that makes daily efforts to put love into play, to a family and society that is sick from isolationism or a habitual fear of love. I prefer a family that makes repeated efforts to begin again, to a family and society that is narcissistic and obsessed with luxury and comfort. … I prefer a family with tired faces from generous giving, to a family with 'made up' faces that know nothing of tenderness and compassion. I prefer a man and a woman, don Aniceto and his wife, with faces that are wrinkled due to the daily struggles over the fifty years of strong married love; and here we have them". - VIS

How can we, in our cozy homes, living with abundance, luxury, and comfort, paying millions to support corrupt politicians in their ambitious campaigns of false promises and bitchy rhetoric, even begin to understand the plight of the marginalized, discriminated against people the Holy Father speaks to.  He mingled with these people throughout his ministry, as priest and bishop, how can we judge the fatherly concern, the pastoral care shown by the successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ, towards these truly, really poor - not just temporally, but deeply poor in spirit?

How do we dare to do so?

Gossip monger priests online waste their time, their vocations nit-picking what the pope says or does, writing articles defending financial institutes, or pointing out flaws in politicians supposedly on their side, not mention their connections, as one priest does in his latest political writings for the Republican political franchise.  Is that his job?  Recently, another online priest affiliated with the Acton Institute, promoted a new exposé titled, Poverty Inc. - all about exposing the big business that is involved in the ending poverty game.  He calls it an 'action item'.  Is anyone surprised?  Surely inquiring minded, militant Catholics can't be surprised at this news.  I'm talking about those who rail against the USCCB campaigns and fundraisers, and expose Catholic Relief services and tell people not to donate.

Though there may be a place for the filthy business of exposé, that is not the Church in action.  The mission to the poor is an apostolic, evangelical vocation - not a business.  Neither is it about dollar-barometers on your website, selling tickets to an event, pre-ordering books and films, counting and adding up your contributions on your sacrifice beads or for your tax accountant, nor is it about hawking Bible-banger verses about how expensive it is to receive or show mercy to sinners or those who call you out.

There's big money to be made in religion as well - obviously.

Yet as the Holy Father said to the inmates: "No one is beyond the reach of God's mercy."  So there is hope for us too.


  1. One of your best posts. I love this pope. Amen.

    1. "I think many of the old ladies online are being led astray by some"

      I beg to differ dear Terry. ;p

      I am to be counted among those who so far have found nothing objectionable in what Papa has said or done while in Mexico or anywhere else in this grand ol' world of ours. The Spanish media here in L.A. has been nothing but positive and uplifting. Catholic media such as El Sembrador and Hombre Nuevo and Guadalupe Radio have been great. I no longer venture onto any site that offends my faith in the Church or our Holy Father especially "Catholic websites." No thanks.

    2. Haha - I wasn't writing about you and you know that.

      Thanks to you both.

  2. It's not to late to give up prestigious lay people up for lent!

    1. Joshua - you made me laugh out loud!


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