I’ve been doing a lot of reading trying to get back to the blogosphere after a nice vacation. I don’t often have a chance to plow through everything listed on Catholic headline sites. I usually just pick what jumps out at me, so after subjecting myself to just about every story in today’s headlines, I’m a little depressed. Looks bleak these days for the Faith, despite knowing the end of the story.
So much jumped out at me it’s hard to know what to tackle first. Maybe the vacation was just a little too long! This, however, is the article that kept gnawing at me.
Those who read me know that I usually don’t comment much on Pope Francis. My main reason for not doing so is that I just don’t believe in spitting into the wind. I’ve got a wide variety of friends – both in my personal life and in the blogosphere – who hold every opinion on him, everything from questioning his validity to thinking he is the savior. I think I probably hold the opinion of many in the middle: on some days I’m happy, on others I’m befuddled, but this one struck me in the most negative of ways. Why? I just got the sense that it was all about him. “I, me, I, me, I, me…” and that’s not really a feeling I want to have about our Pope. I want to feel like the Pope is the guardian of the Church and not treating it as his personal sandbox and these comments don’t help. To be fair, the question was on his interviews, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many I’s and Me’s coming from the person who is supposed to represent the Church, not himself. From the very first quote:
I know this can make me vulnerable, but it is a risk I want to take,
I wanted to yell, “This isn’t about you, it’s about souls! People with evil intentions are using your interviews to prey on those souls!” To be fair, the quotes they expound on are often totally out of context, misquotes, etc. However, fool me once shame on you, fool me repeatedly and I might actually be the fool or so “rigid” in my ways that I can’t see that my ways might be a problem and require another tactic.
I might as well just go over all the quotes. Next:
“The Lord ‘interviews’ the disciples who are walking discouraged,” he said. “For me, the interview is part of this conversation the church is having with men and women today.”
OK, but does anyone remember what happened after the “interview”? There was a complete and utter smackdown for not getting it.
25 Then he said to them, Too slow of wit, too dull of heart, to believe all those sayings of the prophets! 26 Was it not to be expected that the Christ should undergo these sufferings, and enter so into his glory? 27 Then, going back to Moses and the whole line of the prophets, he began to interpret the words used of himself by all the scriptures.
He didn’t say, “Oh, you missed everything that you’ve been taught but that’s just fine.” Where is the response Christ gave, the clear delineation of where they ditched all that had been taught? That’s what we hope comes out of the dialogue, but it never quite seems to happen. We want Pope Francis to be a true father and then break bread with the children. As a parent, that’s what I want to see from my pope for my children. Sure, meet them on the Road to Emmaus when they are struggling and confused, but then give them the Truth and remind them what Christ did for them and what He left for them – the Church and her Sacraments.
“The interviews and Q&A sessions “always have a pastoral value,” Pope Francis said, and are an important part of his ministry, just like inviting a small group of people to his early morning Mass each day.”
I’d quibble here. They COULD have pastoral value. I don’t think it means they always do, especially when the responses are not clear. I mean, the Holy Father picked the Road to Emmaus story. After Christ’s “interview,” he reiterated EVERYTHING they had been taught about the Christ from “Moses and the whole line of prophets.”
The chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives, “is, let’s say, my parish. I need that communication with people.”
I don’t think ANYONE has a problem with him communicating with people. The problem people find is his lack of clarity. That’s kind of what the whole dubia thing was about. The four cardinals REALLY had communication with their flock, their priests, other cardinals, bishops, etc. They deserved the “dialogue” that the Holy Father speaks of, because they represent a HUGE number of Catholics, despite the Spadaro spin.
“There, too, on those trips, I like to look people in the eye and respond to their questions sincerely,” he wrote. “I know that I have to be prudent, and I hope I am. I always pray to the Holy Spirit before I start listening to the questions and responding.”
Cannot fault the method at all, but the problem is it’s been a problem more than a few times now. It seems like when it’s gone awry so many times, it might not be prudential to do it again and again. That said, who knows if the chaos that results ever gets back to him. You’d think yes since it’s the topic of the interview, but who the heck really knows anymore.
This one really got me:
His favorite interviews, he said, are with small, neighborhood newspapers and magazines. “There I feel even more at ease,” the pope said. “In fact, in those cases I really am listening to the questions and concerns of common people. I try to respond spontaneously, in a conversation I hope is understandable, and not with rigid formulas.”
Oh, how I wish that were true all the way around. A couple comments on that. First, he should ALWAYS be on guard. Next, the press represents the common people?! And then we’re back to “rigid.” Was Christ being “rigid” when he laid out every word spoken about him by the prophets? I just wish he understood that clarity is good, clarity is not rigidity.
“For me,” he said, “interviews are a dialogue, not a lesson.”
Anything jump into anyone’s mind? How many times did the disciples call Christ “teacher?” I don’t remember him being called “dialoguer.” Honestly, I want him to be the ultimate pope. I want him do things like pay his own hotel bill and call “gender theory” a nuclear weapon, but these quotes didn’t bring me there.
Even when the questions are submitted in advance, the pope said he does not prepare his answers. Watching the person ask the question and responding directly is important.
OK, you’ve got the questions in advance. They’re not going to change, but one can’t prepare a well thought out response that might be less easily twisted and still listen and respond directly to the question???
Yes, I am afraid of being misinterpreted,” he said. “But, I repeat, I want to run this pastoral risk.
Why would anyone want to run the risk of being misinterpreted and run the risk of souls being led astray??? Look, I’m only human but I just don’t get it. If my child comes to me with a weighty question, you’d bet I’d take the question in advance if I could get my hands on it! If I had the opportunity, I wouldn’t go with, “I’m trying to be a genuine, authentic parent and have a genuine, authentic dialogue with my child, so I’m going to pass on the opportunity to be prepared and take a parental roll of the dice!” That’s really what we’re talking about here. I’m not going to play craps when a soul is at stake. Would I be “rigid” or loving with my want of clarity for the soul of a child I carried and raised? My kids would probably go with rigid. Ha! That said, my children, just like the rest of us, don’t always want the truth, right? We want the nice cushy road. I don’t understand why the truth can’t be given with the love surrounding it like a halo. Like so many, I just don’t get the logic of Pope Francis some days.
The article on papal interviews wasn’t the only story that caught my eye. In fact, this story hit the very same day.
Now, Pope John Paul II visited a prison (and the guy who shot him), and Pope Benedict XVI visited a prison, but Pope Francis decided to invite 20 prisoners out of prison to lunch. Guess what? Two prisoners of unknown and possibly dangerous convictions escaped. I cannot help but see this incident as symbolic of what’s going on in the Church today. The Holy Father wants to extend what he thinks are new and improved overtures of kindness to some who are sure to feel “marginalized” (the Jesuits’ favorite word!), and some of the more nefarious “inmates” in the Church decide to run wild (ahem, Fr. Martin!). Now, do I think these overtures are anything but genuine and done out of love? My guess is that they are. (I’m sure some of you are about to throw “naïve” and “pollyana” at me. Get your own blog!) That’s really not the point. That said, I can very well say that prisoners escaping is not a good outcome. People with evil ideas will do what they are going to do, but it doesn’t mean we have to make it any easier on them to do so. My feeling is “no.”
When I was wondering what other papal interviews looked like, I came across this interview of Pope Benedict. When he says “I” and “Me” he’s putting himself in the role of the faithful, not the Pope. I’m throwing it in because it was great and touches on what we need from the Church and some of the topics of this week like Luther.
Just to be clear, I’m not saying the pope is a heretic (not in my job description). I’m not saying he’s got evil intentions (out of my purview). I’m not speaking to anything doctrinal or canonical the Pope may or may not have done (well, well above my pay grade). I am speaking to this article and the Holy Father’s remarks expressed in it, and they concern me and I’m betting it concerns some of you. I’m just here to say I feel your pain and you totally have reason to feel like you look like a confused German shepherd these days. This too shall pass.
For those feeling a bit, let’s be honest, annoyed, cheer up! We’re either in end times as some have said, or we’ve got miles to go. Either way, pray for the Church and pray for the world. Avail yourself of the sacraments and let’s pray that the Holy Father gives some clarity to our own personal “dubias” as well as those already stated. I can’t imagine anyone having a problem praying for clarity (well, except for those who ascribe to the “confound and confuse” method) no matter what your feelings on the Holy Father.