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More on Conservative Reactions to Pope Francis

Lots of interesting content in this inaccurately headlined article from the Washington Post.  Some is insightful and heartening, some less so.  Here's a taste of some of the former (HT Balloon Juice):

Mary Ellen Barringer, a Silver Spring resident who attends Mass daily, says she misses Benedict “desperately.” Right away, she said, Francis challenged all Catholics to do more . She felt him saying to people like her: Writing checks to pro-life causes isn’t enough, you need to get closer to the disenfranchised and the poor. She felt him telling her she was being smug about less traditional Catholics. . . .

“Maybe Pope Francis is calling me to love someone whose views I don’t like. And how much better would the world be if we got over all this.”

 

Gregory Popcak, a marriage and family counselor on the radio and in private practice in Ohio, describes being sent deep into prayer after several clients used Francis’s public words to push back on Popcak when he explained church teachings on sex and love. One client recently quit, saying, “I’m much more of a Pope Francis-Nancy Pelosi Catholic, and you’re an old-school, Pope John Paul II Catholic,” he recalled.

First, he felt frustrated, then ashamed.

 

The story of the prodigal son came to him, and he saw in himself the good son. “The good kid who stayed behind, did everything his father told him to do, ,” Popcak wrote in a recent online essay that prompted dozens of people to share similar sentiments. “People who left the Church, who hated the Church . . . were suddenly realizing that God loved them, that the Church welcomed them, and all I could do was feel bitter about it.”

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Papalolotry is a bad thing.  Just about the time you start feeling smug that "your guy" is now in power and place, that changes and the next guy may well be the polar opposite.

Mislaced faith can be very misleading and ultimatly disappointing.

 

Popcak has been known to comment here from time to time.  Very interesting stuff.

Writing checks to pro-life causes is fine.  For Catholics who take it to the next level, like the wonderful little group who comprises our Respect Life parish ministry, there was a sense, before Francis, that even though it was a small group and somewhat on a different vector than many of the other parish groups (not to mention the larger society), they were doing important work that had the support of church leadership, from the pope on down.  Now that Francis seems to be reshuffling some priorities, I think there is a real possibility that pro-life work may become even lonelier, as they wonder whether the pope's heart really is in it, and people who don't cotton to pro-life advocacy seem to have been given permission to ignore the issue and even to despise those who do the work.

 

And here is a comment from Bernard Fellay, leader of the Traditionalist Society of Pius X:

http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2013/10/bishop-fellay-we-thank-god-ther...

Raber and I have had many disagreements about Greg Popcak's broadcasts about what a Catholic marriage should be (Raber listens; I try not to). Greg's comments in Eduardo's post made me think more of Greg and understand why Raber might get something out of his programs. Regardless of who is pope, Catholics in a position to counsel others on marriage (or anything else) might think about being a little less prescriptive in their advice on these highly personal matters. 

Jimmy, I like your typo, "mislaced faith." It makes me think of a shoe that's been improperly laced up, maybe having missed one or two of the grommets that makes the wearer feel vaguely uncomfortable and wobbly. I feel I'm a "mislaced Catholic," missing a couple of the essential "grommets" that prevent me from walking the straight and narrow.

The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Feeney conservatives) seem to be taking heart from the new pope's words:

http://catholicism.org/pope-francis-it-is-not-possible-to-find-jesus-out...

Now that Francis seems to be reshuffling some priorities, I think there is a real possibility that pro-life work may become even lonelier, as they wonder whether the pope's heart really is in it, and people who don't cotton to pro-life advocacy seem to have been given permission to ignore the issue and even to despise those who do the work.

Do you really think Pope Francis has "reshuffled" priorities?

It seems to me he's merely trying to get people to see the pro-life effort as part of a larger picture--a picture that includes love instead of the sometimes acrimonious, political, and polarizing nature of some (certainly not all or even most) of what might be construed as pro-life activities. I haven't stopped supporting the crisis pregnancy center, though I will not send money to the state organization that rates politicians solely on their positions on abortion. 

I think the pro-life work becomes misguided when it spends so much energy condemning artificial birth control. All this emphasis on a single act rather than on the entire marriage. As a pastor, I have known a number of really grim conservative Catholics who have large families, a lot of judgment against their fellow Catholics with smaller families, and a very rigid view on life in general. At the same time, I have known Catholics with smaller families who labor hard to to be good parents living a deep faith, reaching out to their neighbors in various loving ways, and who open to life in a really broad way, and who are people of great joy.

Some perspective. Prior to Francis pracitically every group was turned into a pro life group by the hierarchy. The diocesan official would visit charismatic meetings and deliver a pro life monologue. There was a pro life Sunday. It was all bishops talked about. Every other cause was an outsider. 

Same of Popcak for distorting the Prodigal Son message. As he often called out to others before: Time for him to  repent.........

The gospel message is that we all owe our life to the mercy of God. When we think we deserve then we lose it. 

Rita's link to Bernard Fellay's rantings are a cleaned up version.  This link gives a fuller picture.

http://www.cfnews.org/page88/files/14e8cf27a431ca52105cf70b45567b82-149....

Sister Lucia’s (of the Fatima apparition) reference to Chapters 8 through 13 of the Apocalypse is particularly chilling, since the end of Chapter 13 speaks of the coming of Antichrist.

Bishop Fellay noted that Pope St. Pius X said at the beginning of his pontificate the ‘son of perdition’ may already be on the earth. He also noted the original prayer to Saint Michael of Pope Leo XIII mentions that Satan aims to establish his seat in Rome.

The bishop quoted Cardinal Luigi Ciapi, the Papal Theologian of all the Popes from Pius XII to John Paul II who said, “In the Third Secret we read among other things that the great apostasy in the Church begins at the top.”

Am I wrong to read that Fellay is suggesting Francis is the anti-Christ?

Do you really think Pope Francis has "reshuffled" priorities?

I do ... he said in one of the recent interviews that the two most urgent problems are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old.  That was sort of a, "What?!!" moment for me.  (I admit I actually believe all that stuff about the right to life being the foundational right upon which all other human rights exist :-).)

 

 

Jack Marth,

Having read the version of Fellay's remarks on the site you linked before checking the Rorate Caeli site I too noticed how the latter had been sanitized, especially with regard to the third sevret at Fatima.  I think you are correct to think that Fellay is strongly suggesting that Francis is the anti-Christ.

Fellay's speech confirms the reservations of those who advised Benedict not to reconcile with SSPX.  The speech also puts Benedict's eforts to bring SSPX into full commnion in a very bad light.  It shows what SSPX really is and sharpens the question of why Benedict pursued them so assiduously.  It looks like he had very poor judgment in this matter.  Let's hope Fellay's speech puts an end to any future efforts to reconcile SSPX to Rome.  The comments on the speech, which are on the Rorate Caeli Twitter feed strongly predict that SSPX will now go into full schism with Rome.  I, of course, thought they alrady were in full schism.  Did they go into partial schism when Benedict removd the excomunications of the four bishops?

Jim, thanks, as always for your thoughts. I know you will forgive me if I don't venture into abortion as a topic. Past experience on here has taught me that it's generally unproductive for me to do so, though I do follow the comments of others.

Jean, no worries.  Fwiw, I read every comment of yours I see, and wish you would comment more.

A few days ago, there was a commemoration of the life of Eileen Egan, who coined the phraase "seamless garment." I read Pope Francis's take on the urgent problems we face today to be consistent with the notion of a seamless garment of life. To the extent that Cardinal Bernardin's embrace of this notion was pretty explicitly repudiated by so many clerics and lay people who have proclaimed themselves the "true pro-life community" it is not surprising that those of us who admired Bernardin and people like him feel a sense of relief.

It is, of course, right to insist that abortion is morally wrong and that Christian sacramental marriage is always a marriage between a man and a woman, so there is good reason to shwo respect for the "pro-lifeers" who have carried the torch in an unfriendly society. But it is also up to them to show respect for those of us who have felt maligned by some of the positions their leaders have taken, e.g., on voting, or on the Obama at Notre Dame fiaxco, or on Communion for politcians and public figures such as Ted Kennedy's widow. Their harshness is, if I understand Pope Francis, out of place.

Perhaps more evidence that Bishop Fellay et al. have demonstrably abandoned any pretenses that may have existed regarding reconcilaition with Rome:

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/10/15/nazi-war-criminal-to-get-church-burial/?hpt=hp_t2

 

“The angry screaming debates in parishes — I don’t want to go there again,” said Lawler. “Things were calming down.”

Perhaps Mr. Lawler didn't recognize that things were calming down because there weren't many people left in the pews who cared enough to debate.

Thanks for that link, Mr. Collier. Not surprising, given their anti-Semitism, that SPPX was willing to give Priebke, an unrepentant Nazi, a public funeral.  No concern about sending the wrong message on their part.  They tend to embrace that message.

I am very torn by these sorts of situations.  On the one hand, given our Church's history of anti-Semitism, our leaders need to be very clear they in no way condone Priebke's actions and his  failure to repent of them publicly.  On the other hand,  I tend to view access to sacraments and funerals like the ACLU views access to the protections of the 1st Amendment, one gets a funeral or access to the sacraments or the protections of the 1st Amendment no matter what.

I've always admired what Bishop McGann did at William Casey's funeral. 

http://articles.philly.com/1987-05-15/news/26162020_1_catholic-bishops-p...

I think Benedict wanted to bring the SSPX back into the bosom of Rome because they were validly ordainted.  And they were (are) men.  Womenpriests have also been validly ordained as priests by validly ordained and consecrated bishops of the Roman Catholic Church.  Benedict wasn't reaching out to them.  They are women, after all.  Not to worry.

Gerelyn:

Who are "The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary"?  This not a trolling question; I really want to know.

Gerelyn:

Never mind; I googled the name and now I know.

Do you really think Pope Francis has "reshuffled" priorities?

"I do ... he said in one of the recent interviews that the two most urgent problems are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old.  That was sort of a, "What?!!" moment for me.  (I admit I actually believe all that stuff about the right to life being the foundational right upon which all other human rights exist :-).)"

Jim P. ==

As I understand him, Francis is talking about his prioritizing his *actions*, not his ranking of values.  Acting for an end/value is not the same thing as the end itself.  Our ends -- our foundational values -- can remain the same while our priorities in acting for various ends may change.

  For instance, if one of your children was in the hospital dying, but was being given the best care available *at the time* and she doesn't need your attention, wouldn't you then attend to some of the other, lesser needs of your family, for instance, seeing that there is enough food in the house for the others?  You wouldn't change your values, you'd only change the actions you're taking at the time.

Many of us think that the way that many pro-life people are trying to defend their principles sometimes does more harm than good -- yes, that some pro-life defense is actually counter-productive.  Pope Francis apparently agrees that concentrating so heavily on abortion  *at this time* is not the wisest way to change votes and defend the unborn.  He is not saying that other *values* are most important at this -- he is saying that our priorities in acting ought to be directed to different ends at this time.

A similar way of thinking -- look at the just war theory.  It says that war is sometimes morally justifiable and some would say that sometimes it is necessary.  But the theory does not permit going to war *when there is no good hope of winning(.  Well, the same thing is true of some of the methods of some of the pro-life people (e.g., those who call their opponents "murderers"). Their actions have no hope of winning -- they only make winning more difficult in the future.  So their time would be better spent doing other things.

 Francis is not abandonning his *basic values* at all.  He is re-ordering *when* he will use various means to achieve his various moral goals.  He is exercising prudence.

Jack:

Read the article again. It is obvious that the SSPX is grandstanding using this issue. The article says that:

The Diocese of Rome said in a statement that Priebke's lawyer was asked to hold a "small, private" funeral in the Nazi war criminal's home rather than in a church.

A perfectly reasonable request that would have satisfied his right to a burial with close family and not create a public scandal and embarrasment. Note that the SSPX only then stepped in and decided to go whole hog and make it a public spectacle.

They seem perfectly at ease with serving as propaganda for this issue! What does that tell you. The "regular" (for lack of a better word) Catholic diocese offered a very reasonable accommodation first that would have spared all of us this embarrasment. Thank you yet again SSPX!!

 

Maybe this Priebke case is an ill wind blowing some good.  It has shown just how very radical the SSPXers are.  Francis the anti-Christ indeed!  They are making fools of themselves.  Hopefully those who sympathize with some of what the SSPXers are saying will now realize that the SSPXers are actually bonkers.

I can see why Benedict would have wanted to prevent a schism.  Their bishops are validly ordained, and they could cause trouble for centuries.  However, if the SSPXers make it plain that they're not just ultra-conservative, they're mad, the movement will probably die out relatively fast.

jim Pauwels

I do ... he said in one of the recent interviews that the two most urgent problems are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old.  That was sort of a, "What?!!" moment for me"

Jim, reading your comment was a what?!! moment for me too.

I think is unbelievable   if people don’t get that unemployment is more urgent problem  than abortion for our society. If you take a survey in my parish church at the end of the mass and you ask:  what is the most urgent problem here in Italy? 100 % will answer the unemployment. Without job you cannot marry, have family, there isn't a  future for society, there is also  a increase of inequality of society. No one  here will answer abortion.

 

This constant mewling about what the pope said--whether pro or con, whether from "liberals" or, especially, "conservatives"--has really got to stop. I don't care about anyone's feelings in response to papal interviews, etc. This is all a totally irrelevant side-show that perpetuates the deeply unhealthy cult of personality surrounding modern popes. That is unhealthy for the Church, for us, and for Christian unity. Enough already!

http://www.realclearreligion.org/articles/2013/10/16/who_cares_what_the_...

Mr. DeVille,

thanks for the link and for your pointed reminder to keep first things first.

Of course, Merton, in the quote you cited, hardly followed his own godly counsel.

The bishop of Miami is prone to saying (and writing in op-eds) that if you don't have the right to life, then all other rights you claim are meaningless.  

I would modify that to say that if you don't live on a planet that is capable of sustaining life, then the right to life is meaningless.   George  W. Bush and his puppetmaster, Dick Cheney, wasted eight valuable years when they might have done something about climate change because they were in thrall to Big Oil.  

" Merton, a monk who died suddenly in 1968, once summed up the wisdom of the Desert Fathers of early Christian monasticism thus: 'Shut up and go to your cell!'"

I am glad that Merton didn’t take that advice.

I can't agree that unemployment is in itself more important than the killing of babis.  I have been unemployed, so I know something of what it feels like, and I assure you I'll take being unemployed over being killed any day.

The pro-life prudential issue is: what ought to be done at this point in historyt to protect innocent persons and improve employment.  At this time, I say that attending to the unemployment is more important for the simple reason that there aren't enough votes to protect the unborn, and there won't be until the people see that at some point the fetus is a baby and killing them is killing children,

 I have been unemployed, so I know something of what it feels like, and I assure you I'll take being unemployed over being killed any day.

I must confess that I really don't "get" this kind of talk. Pro-lifers, at least the political kind, seem to think it is more important to pass laws against abortion than to bring down the abortion rate. If abortion is a serious Christian problem, it seems to me the harm it does is to those who procure abortions, not the "victims." I am much more concerned about a child who is in danger of starvation than an embryo or fetus in danger of being aborted. I don't really understand why people care about babies who are aborted early enough to experience no pain, whether or not they are technically persons. If the aborted are persons with immortal souls, they are entirely in God's hands. Sympathy or empathy for aborted babies is, it seems to me, fantasy. But the suffering of a starving child or a poor, or sick, or unemployed, or disabled person is reality, not fantasy. You can see it. And you can do something about it. 

I do agree that in many ways abortion is a terrible thing. But as long as the Catholic Church is unalterable opposed to contraception—the only realistic solution to unwanted pregnancies—it is part of the problem, not part of the solution. 

Many more embryos and fetuses die of natural causes than are aborted. This is not—I repeat, not—in any way a justification for abortion. But it strikes me as insane to get all worked up about the alleged suffering of aborted babies if there is not some equal grief about the rest of the embryos and fetuses who die of natural causes. 

I think Jean's advice about not going down the abortion rat-hole in this thread is pretty sage, and I intend to follow it.  I just want to note that comments above from David N and mary illustrate what I had in mind in my original comment: pro-life advocates depend on the support of those with teaching authority, because a lot of people in the pews and on the streets don't see the point of it, and can even be hostile about it.

 

Ann Oliver,

This focus exclusively on the means as an end in itself is what I find to be the second most frustrating thing about the pro-life movement (the way it spreads false science is the first). No one asks how many abortions a proposed policy will prevent. No one asks whether voting for a particular candidate will lead to particular policies being implemented. All that matters is that one votes for the candidate who adopts a particular label and takes the right side on a handful of largely symbolic votes. All that matters is the magnitude of the problem rather than the effectiveness of the solutions.

The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary sprang out of the work done by Leonard Feeney SJ, who was by all report a charismatic priest in the mid- and late-1940s. He was working in and around Harvard University, though whether he was ever Catholic chaplain there, I'm not certain. But he was very persuasive to a lot of people before he began going off the rails. The Jesuits dismissed him from the order, I think, and he was finally excommunicated in the early 1950s. His error? Preaching that there was no salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church. As my high Episcopal mother used to point out, with some relish (she was a medieval historian, among other things) Feeney was simply being faithful to Boniface VIII's teaching in Unam Sanctam (1302), which says that submission to the Roman pontiff is necessary for salvation. I don't know whether anyone has made the case that such a view is not part of the Church's magisterium, and if not, why not. But there have been plenty of apologists who maintain that Boniface didn't really mean what you and I think he said.

The Slaves were an offshoot of Feeney's group. They inhabited a house called the St. Benedict Center, just off Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, and right opposite St. Paul's, the parish church that serves Harvard. They were still active when I arrived there as a grad student in '56. For some years they maintained a house in Harvard, Massachusetts (west of Concord, and no connection to the university of the same name). Feeney was apparently reconciled to the church in 1972, though what he did about Lumen Gentium I know not.

I just want to note that comments above from David N and mary illustrate what I had in mind in my original comment: pro-life advocates depend on the support of those with teaching authority, because a lot of people in the pews and on the streets don't see the point of it, and can even be hostile about it.

Jim,

Well, what do those with teaching authority say? Please note that a key thing I said was the following:

Pro-lifers, at least the political kind, seem to think it is more important to pass laws against abortion than to bring down the abortion rate.

If that makes sense to you, I wish you would explain it. Here is a communication I received in an e-mail some years ago from someone who is somewhat of a public figure and whose name you would recognize. The Test Question was something I posed:

 

TEST QUESTION: Which government approach would you prefer to see in the United States, one that

A. Strictly prohibited abortions and as a consequence reduced them by 20 percent?

B. Did not legally prohibit abortions but decreased them by 40 percent?

 

I would answer "A" because it is not our job to control the outcome.  It is only our job to preach the truth. The outcome is up to God. Our job as Christians is to be a prophetic voice and to leave conversion to him.  The problem with the consequentialist thinking of progressives on this issue--in my mind--is that it takes control out of God's hands and assumes that we, by hedging and engaging in casuistry can somehow coax the results we want out of the circumstances. Speaking as one who makes his living getting people to change, I have never found this approach to be effective.  Speak the truth, and let the chips fall where they may.

 

This is what I take to be the political position of many people. There must be anti-abortion laws, even if they are counterproductive.

 

The other position I criticize is imagined or fantasized personal grief over the alleged suffering of aborted babies. I am not talking about babies aborted in the later stages of pregnancy who surivive briefly and are left to die. I am talking about the majority of abortions that take place so early in pregnancy that there can be no question of awareness or pain. It is simply impossible to have empathy for a 9-week-old fetus being aborted. I am setting aside moral questions here and talking about emotional ones. It is easier for me to conceive of having empathy for a cow, or calf, or lamb, or chicken being slaughtered for food than to empathize with a 9-week-old fetus that has not a glimmer of self-awareness or sensation. No matter how wrong it may be to procure an abortion, it seems to me that it makes no sense to concern oneself with the alleged suffering of the 9-week-old fetus, because it doesn't suffer. If there is an afterlife, we have no idea whatsoever of how or whether it would be different for an aborted baby than for any other human being. 

 

I do not see how it would become a better word if abortion were universally outlawed but widely practiced, and to be honest, I don't see how it would be a better world if abortion were universally outlawed with some success in preventing a reasonable number of abortions.

 

I don't see why it should be a major project of the Catholic Church to lobby for anti-abortion laws in a pluralistic democracy, or to lobby against same-sex marriage. I don't see what it has to do with the Gospel. 

Ann Oliver,

I can't agree that unemployment is in itself more important than the killing of babis. 

It's not that it's more important but that our ability to affect the level of unemployment is much greater than our ability to affect the number of abortions, especially through the methods prefered by the pro-life movement. Ironically, blanket support for the Republican party is increasing both abortions and unemployment as they work to reduce both access to contraception (which prevents abortions) and prevent the government from supporting the economy.

 

our ability to affect the level of unemployment is much greater than our ability to affect the number of abortions

Really?  Anyone checked the unemployment rate for the last 25 quarters or so?

 

 

blanket support for the Republican party is increasing both abortions and unemployment as they work to reduce both access to contraception (which prevents abortions)

Really?  Anyone checked the trend in abortions in the US since 1960?

 

"Free birth control cuts abortion rates by 62%"  ...  http://www.livescience.com/23726-birth-control-abortion-rate.html

"Unsafe abortions rise as contaceptive funding is cut"  ...  http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21372-unsafe-abortions-rise-as-con...

Crystal - let's give the HHS mandate a year and see what happens to the number of abortions in the US.  Okay?

 

Now that Francis seems to be reshuffling some priorities, I think there is a real possibility that pro-life work may become even lonelier, as they wonder whether the pope's heart really is in it, and people who don't cotton to pro-life advocacy seem to have been given permission to ignore the issue and even to despise those who do the work.

I don’t think Pope Francis will be reshuffling priorities and I thought my friend Jim might be too pessimistic in describing the attitude of those “Catholics” who despise pro-life advocates but, having read some of the comments here, I fear he was correct.

 

…contraception—the only realistic solution to unwanted pregnancies…

It’s been a while since I’ve read something as out of touch with reality.

 "I don't really understand why people care about babies who are aborted early enough to experience no pain, whether or not they are technically persons."

David N.--

What do you mean being "technically a person"?

You say that if someone is not conscious it's ok sometimes to kill him/her.  What's the difference between killing a sleeping person and one who isn't sleeping?  I'm serious.  What are your reasons? 

 

You say that if someone is not conscious it's ok sometimes to kill him/her.  What's the difference between killing a sleeping person and one who isn't sleeping?  I'm serious.  What are your reasons? 

 

Ann,

 

I didn't say that at all!

 

Note, for example, that I said, "I am setting aside moral questions here and talking about emotional ones." I am talking about the people who work themselves up to imagine they empathize with the suffering and personal loss of "innocent little babies." There is no reason to imagine that a 9-week-old fetus suffers pain during an abortion. If a 9-week-old fetus has a soul, there is no way to know if its eternal fate is diminished or enhanced by having its life end so early. If it is diminished, that is then also the case for every embryo or fetus that dies of natural causes, and the death rate for early embryos is staggering. 

 

There is a major difference between a person that is not conscious and an alleged person who has never been conscious. But I am not saying it is "okay" to kill anyone. My argument is that the wrongness of killing a persons in many circumstances has nothing to do with sympathizing with that person. For example, I would (probably) agree that it is wrong to deliberately kill someone who is terminally ill with, say, brain cancer or a brain injury that renders him or her incapable of ever gaining consciousness again. But the wrongness of killing such a person has nothing to do with feeling sorry for that person's suffering or loss of future life. A person who can never regain consciousness doesn't lose anything by being killed. 

 

I believe it was Archbishop Chaput who envisioned people who voted for pro-choice candidates being confronted in the afterlife by aborted babies. What, exactly, would be the complaints of the aborted babies? 

 

It’s been a while since I’ve read something as out of touch with reality.

 

Mark Proska,

 

Are you claiming that modern contraceptive drugs and devices, when used consistently and correctly, don't work?

 

The fertility rate (number of births per woman) in Niger is slightly over 7. In Singapore, it is 0.79. Would it be your contention that people in Niger must have about 8 times the amount of sex as people in Singapore? 

Hot damn, I'm going to Niger! :-)

Just one more thought on Eduardo's original post.  It's been noted that conservatives, in particular, have been struggling to understand how much weight and authority to attribute to a papal interview, especially when his remarks seem to signal a shift in direction from previous papacies.  Technically and formally, such things would seem to carry little or no weight in the canonical sense; yet as indicators of the Holy Father's views and priorities, it seems reasonable to infer that his remarks are, intentionally or not, laying the groundwork for future exercises of the papal teaching office that may have more formal, canonical heft.  And of course, if we judge the importance of his remarks by the positive impact they've had among the Catholic (and non-Catholic) faithful, they're enormously weighty.

My own view is that this will become more clear over time, as (God willing) Francis accumulates a more complete record of homilies, encyclicals, interviews and such.

 

Jim Pauwels,

We know how to improve the unemployment rate. The problem is that the Republicans who get unwavering loyalty from pro-life voters are primarily concerned with laying off government employess and cutting assistance to the poor and unemployed so that they can give the rich tax cuts.

Do I recall correctly that it was Mr. Ward (part of the Sheed and Ward) family lines who, in the 1930s said that he wished he could have a papal pronouncement deilvered to him at breakfast each morning? I myself am delighted with Pope Francis and his talks. But, as someone, perhaps Claire, said earlier, we have our own responsibilities to think and speak about our faith. This, I think, is an important thrust of Francis's talks. That is, just citing what he says is not enough. Take what he says to heart and then respond in a comparable spirit of respect and humility.

The problem is that the Republicans who get unwavering loyalty from pro-life voters are primarily concerned with laying off government employess and cutting assistance to the poor and unemployed so that they can give the rich tax cuts.

I see.  Are pro-life voters uniformly moronic, in your estimation?

 

I see.  Are pro-life voters uniformly moronic, in your estimation?

Not at all.

Politics involves making choices about what issues one cares about most. The more one bases one's support on a single issue, the more effective one's lobbying is on that issue but the less effective it is on all the others. The highly focused nature of the pro-life movement's political activities means that Republicans have pursued restrictions on abortion, but it also means that they are more free to ignore high levels of unemployment.

Pro-life voters may believe that the legislation passed at the state level over the past few years is worth the prolongation of the unemployment crisis. I disagree, but disagreements about the relative values of things and prudential judgements about what could have been aren't a sign that one side is moronic.

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About the Author

Eduardo Moisés Peñalver is the John P. Wilson Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the subjects of property and land use law.