Pope Francis’ recent controversial remarks on the Church and abortion, contraception, and gay marriage are being greeted by the Church’s detractors like a gift from the heavens. For secular progressives, the pope’s comments are cause for wondrous elation. They have dawned a new era in “tolerance” and “change” from Rome and for the planet.
In truth, the Holy Father’s statement was utterly butchered and completely misrepresented, especially by the predictably awful but extremely influential New York Times.
But that, in itself, is a problem. Liberals and liberal Catholics and secular progressives are running hog-wild with many of Francis’ remarks, exaggerating and exploiting them for their completely contrary ideological, political, and cultural purposes.
A friend of mine named Bo, who attends a parish in Western Pennsylvania, shared the reaction to Francis’ comments by his very liberal priest. On contraception, Bo and his fellow parishioners were told that the issue is “dead and just remains to be buried.” The priest’s discourses on gay marriage and abortion were even more offensive. “In a nutshell,” said Bo, “we were told that we didn’t need to worry about either gay marriage or abortion.”
That’s just one reaction. Here’s another:
I was mortified when I did my regular perusal of People’s World—the flagship publication of Communist Party USA—and found not one but two pieces exalting the Bishop of Rome. One was tellingly titled, “Welcome Pope Francis, campaigner against corporate greed!” The other was likewise tellingly titled, “Pope Francis: a breath of fresh air.” Said the writer: “We Communists … have much to learn” from Pope Francis.
It’s no exaggeration to say that communists, like secular progressives, are excited about this new pope, and not because they’re suddenly thinking about becoming Catholic. No, they believe he’s more like them. They like him because they think he agrees with them.
Thus, I say here, with all due respect and deference, that Pope Francis needs to be extremely careful about what he’s saying and how he’s saying it, because every imprecise statement is ripe for severe misinterpretation, exploitation, and abuse.