Matt C. Abbott
September 21, 2013
'Right-wing' Catholics still support Pope Francis
By Matt C. Abbott

Yes, I'm a "right-wing" Catholic.

But you already knew that.

Anyway...

Once again the secular media and Catholic blogosphere have been buzzing big-time about the latest papal interview in which Pope Francis seemingly downplays the Church's teachings on abortion, gay "marriage" and contraception – the key issues in our current culture war.

Not surprisingly, the usual suspects in the media are having a field day with cherry-picking the pope's responses. And they're doing so successfully, in my estimation. Heck, NARAL Pro-Choice America actually thanked the pope for his remarks.

Disgusting. The gall of NARAL to do such a thing. (Not that I'm surprised, mind you.)

But dare I say: If one is looking only at that particular interview, one could indeed draw the conclusion that the pope believes the Church is somehow too focused on "dogmatic and moral teachings."

The problem with the interview, said Monica Migliorino Miller, Ph.D, associate professor of theology at Madonna University and director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, "is the lack of clarity."

She said in an email that Pope Francis "wants to emphasize the pastoral nature of the Church and her missionary outreach" – and she agrees with this – but "as someone down in the trenches of the battle for life, I think the pope does need to take into consideration how those who truly hate the Church will exploit his lack of doctrinal precision. And that, sadly, is just what we are seeing."

Still, Professor Miller is supportive of him, asserting that he "has certainly not contradicted any Church teachings."

Also supportive of Pope Francis is Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.

"Upon receiving this request for comment, I was actually in the presence of the pope," Father Pavone said in an email, "because I am speaking at the Vatican conference today precisely on the topic of the priority of the abortion issue in the concerns of the Church."

The Holy Father "is not downplaying pro-life or pro-family activism at all," Father Pavone said. "Rather, he is strengthening it by rooting it in the context of the doctrines of the Faith and Catholic spirituality ... Nobody should try to use the words of the pope to minimize the urgent need to preach and teach about abortion. If they do, then it is context that is needed."

Judie Brown, president and co-founder of American Life League, said in an email that the pope "is inviting us to do more to focus attention in words and deeds on the dignity of the human person, born and preborn.

"Just as the 'confessional is not a torture chamber,' so too we who fight this battle must remember to imitate Christ, cut out the shrillness, and do more to share the Christ-centered identity of the human person in every circumstance. Like his name sake, St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis has a style that rankles some; perhaps being uncomfortable is a good thing as it reminds us of our own imperfections."

Father James Farfaglia, a priest of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas, praises Pope Francis as "a mystic and a genius" who "needs to be more prudent when talking to the media. As he reaches out to the marginalized, he runs the risk of alienating those who love him and the Church very much.

"But this is the problem with the mystics and the geniuses, even the prophets: They are often very misunderstood."

Father Richard Perozich, a priest of the Diocese of San Diego, believes the pope "is so right in saying that the Church should be a field hospital where the spiritually wounded – including those with same-sex attraction and those who are practicing and promoting homosexuals – can come to Christ for true healing, not to live in the wounded state forever."

Last but certainly not least, Father John Trigilio Jr., president of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, said in an email:

"Pope Francis did not discount the efforts of the pro-life, pro-family and pro-marriage movements and organizations. What he was saying was that the universal Church has a three-fold mission or mandate: to teach the truth (magisterium); to sanctify the people of God (sacred liturgy); to shepherd the sheep in love (hierarchy). All three come from the one and same Jesus Christ, who founded Holy Mother Church. As Christ was Priest, Prophet and King, so His bride continues His work of sanctifying, teaching and governing....

"Pope Francis did not give carte blanche to commit fornication, adultery, homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia, and so on. He is reaching out to the fornicators and adulterers, as did Our Divine Lord, to urge them to abandon their sins and follow the path of virtue. He reminds clergy – bishops, especially – that ordination is neither a career nor a job; it is a vocation and a mission.

"Teaching and defending the truth is one of our mandates, but we are also ordained to offer sacrifice, to console, to counsel, to advise, to solace, to bless, to sanctify, to absolve and to lead. If these are done with mercy and compassion, they can be done without compromising the truth and without cheapening grace."

Interestingly, on Sept. 20, the day after the aforementioned interview was published (and quickly cherry-picked by the secular media), Pope Francis told the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations:

"Your being Catholic entails greater responsibility: first of all to yourself, in the effort to be consistent with the Christian vocation, and then to contemporary culture, to help recognize the transcendent dimension in human life, the imprint of the creative work of God, from the very first moment of conception. This is a commitment to the new evangelization that often requires going against the tide, paying a personal price. The Lord counts on you to spread the 'Gospel of life'....

"Every unborn child, though unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of the Lord, who even before his birth, and then as soon as he was born, experienced the rejection of the world."

(Click here to read the story at LifeSiteNews.com.)

© Matt C. Abbott

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He has been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR and WLS-TV in Chicago, and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.

(Note: I welcome thoughtful feedback from readers. If you want our correspondence to remain confidential, please specify as such in your initial email to me... (more)

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