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Our editors, and others, on 'the interview'

Now on the website, Commonweal’s editors on what the pope’s interview reveals:

[M]uch attention has been paid to the pope’s surprising admonition that the church has been too “obsessed” with abortion, contraception, and same-sex marriage. As welcome as that observation is, however, the real importance of the interview is to be found in the pope’s clear-eyed evaluation of how the gospel should be preached in the modern world.

To be sure, many Catholics whole-heartedly embraced the change in tone and spirit in which the pope discussed difficult questions like abortion. Unfortunately, some deeply involved in the prolife movement have taken those remarks as a rebuke. That is an overreaction and misinterpretation of what the pope said. Obviously, Francis was objecting to the uncompromising and confrontational rhetoric of some Catholic activists. Why? Because that approach is simply not working. Worse, it is preventing the larger gospel message from being heard both within and beyond the Catholic community. With a third of all baptized Catholics abandoning the church, while those who remain are increasingly divided on ecclesial, cultural, and political questions, the pope’s diagnosis is hard to refute. Is it not time, as Francis urged, to “find a new balance” in presenting the church’s teaching to an often doubting flock and a sometimes hostile secular world?

Elsewhere, the analysis continues. R.R. Reno in First Things:

By my reading, Pope Francis was being a bit naïve and undisciplined in parts of this interview, which although reviewed by him before publication has an impromptu quality I imagine he wished to retain. This encourages a distorted reading of what he has in mind for the Church. This is a problem related, perhaps, to his Jesuit identity.

A key passage involves his image—a very helpful one—of the Church as “a field hospital after battle.” He observes that in such a circumstance we need to focus on healing as best we can. Some of the protocols and procedures fitting for a hospital operating in times of peace need to be set aside.

He then digresses into fairly extensive reflections on what the Church needs in the way of pastoral leadership in this situation: “pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials.” We’re not to allow ourselves to fixate on “small things, in small-minded rules.” The Church needs to find “new roads,” “new paths,” and “to step outside itself,” something that requires “audacity and courage.”

These and other comments evoke assumptions that are very much favored by the Left, which is why the interview has been so warmly received, not only by the secular media, but also by Catholics who would like the Church to change her teachings on many issues.

At Room for Debate in the New York Times, Simone Campbell, Frances Kissling, Rod Dreher, Bill Donohue, and Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu offer their takes.

Campbell: “In 2012 U.S. Catholic sisters and my organization, Network, were criticized by the Vatican for not holding their narrow focus. Now we see that our pope knows that no one political party has control of the Gospel message.” Dreher: “As a Christian who worries about the future of religious liberty in America, I find the pope’s pastoral direction to his flock naïve and discouraging.”

John P. Judis at The New Republic draws a connection from Francis to King Juan Carlos of Spain and current Iran president Hassan Rouhani. Short form: Assumptions that existing conservative positions will be continued or even harden under successors don’t always pan out. Longer form:

What’s the link here? At the risk of obscurity, I would cite the German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel’s conception of history as Spirit’s journey toward Freedom. Of course, Hegel’s conception of Spirit and Freedom may be a little different from ours, but it still makes some sense to call these different events in Spain, Rome, and Tehran part of Spirit’s journey toward Freedom. And what’s distinctive about each of them is that they were somewhat unexpected—especially by the critics of Franco, Papal conservatism, and Iran’s mullahs—and that they were not imposed but happened—to use a term favored by Edmund Burke—organically. Yes, there were outside pressures in each case, but the pressures could have easily had the opposite effect, as predicted at the time.

Music critic Alex Ross is struck by, among other things, Francis’s comments on Wagner: 

If I'm not mistaken, Pope Francis is comparing “decadent Thomist commentaries” to Klingsor's magic garden — a seductive illusion covering a wasteland. Could the Pope’s emergent philosophy of unadorned compassion have been influenced in some small way by Parsifal, that attempted renovation of religious thought through musical ritual? “Through pity, knowing”? “Redemption to the Redeemer”? Possibly, but there are limits to his aestheticism: “Our life is not given to us like an opera libretto, in which all is written down; but it means going, walking, doing, searching, seeing.” This is a remarkable man.

You’ll also remember that Francis touched on Caravaggio in the interview, which seems a good reason to look back on our multi-author symposium on the artist, “A Message from Caravaggio,” along with Robert P. Imbelli’s “Tortured Genius: The Miracle of Caravaggio’s Art.”

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Reno seems to like the field hospital image but he says the Pope is 'naive', 'undisciplined' and 'digresses'

the field hospital idea maybe to Reno's liking so he might declare himself at the triage station, out side the field hospital, as being one who is too far gone for healing and thus refuse entry. . (-:

I am trying not to comment on everything everybody says about the interview, and Commonweal should try to do likewise. But... "a bit naive and undisciplined"? Fr. Sparado's opening to the interview explicitly makes nonsense of that reaction. If one doesn't like what Pope Francis said, one will have to do better than "naive and undisciplined."

And despite a long, long struggle with Parsifal in Cologne, I am inclined to agree with anything Alex Ross says because I read his book ( The Rest Is Noise ) and realized he must have been personally in attendance at every major musical event of the 20th Century, including the ones that happened before he was born.

If Pope Francis were naive it would be easy to figure him out, and, being such a simpleton, it would be easy to predict what he is likely to do.  But what he is, is extraordinarily surprising.

I say that the most obvious thing about him is that he is a forgiving man, but closer acquaintance with him reveals a particularly complex person.  Far from being a simpleton he's extremely intelligent and grasps both factual details and nuanced thinking based on broad and deep principles.  Underestimate him at your peril, though he'll forgive you if you do :-)  

Yes indeed, Ross's The Rest is Noise is a wonderful book, and his column in the New Yorker is the only one I read faithfully in every issue in which it appears. For my money, he's the best critic going. But I have yet to be converted to Parsifal. When I was about 15 or so, I accompanied my mother, a rather high Episcopalian, to see the opera (when the Met still played Philadelphia) in the Academy of Music, and she made a dismissive remark about not caring for the "fake religiosity" of the opera. No doubt she and I were and are both missing something, but I still think she was right, and watching part of yesterday's PBS broadcast of the Met performance did little to change my mind.

It's nice to know that Francis (rather like his predecessor) seems to put Mozart at the top of the heap, or at least very near the top.

In the published interview, Pope Francis describes himself as a bit naive, at least at times.

At times, a bit astute. At times, able to adapt to circumstances. At times, a bit naive.

Elsewhere in the interview, he describes himself as very undisciplined -- which is why he admired the discipline of the Jesuits and entered the Jesuit order.

So R. R. Reno is picking up on Pope Francis's own words to criticize the interview.

 

Being "a bit" naive at times doesn't qualify Pope Francis as a naive pontifs.   If the cardinals had thought he was naive he never would have been elected pope.  

Pope Francis did make the decision to appoint the advisory council of eight cardinals, but I think it important to note, as the Pope does in the interview with Father Spadaro, that the proposal for such a council came from the cardinals in their meetings before the conclave. A month after his election, Pope Francis acted on the cardinals' proposal.

The group will meet next week for three days. Whether it will continue to meet periodically and whether its membership will eventually be opened to non-cardinals is not clear.

A number of commentators thought that changes in the Curia would come only after the 1 to 3 October meeting. But, in fact, the Pope made a several major curial appointments last Saturday, including the re-confirmation of all of the present officials, members, and consultors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The speculation that Archbishop Gerhard Mueller  (named prefect of CDF by Pope Benedict last year) would be re-placed proved to be wrong.

A number of changes or re-confirmations are still to be made.

 

                                                                                                              

I am enthusiastic about what Pope Francis has been emphasizing and what he has been doing. But isn't all this to-do about the inteview that he gave beginning to border on the nutty. He strikes me as a very serious man who is deeply compassionate and recognizes that the problems we Catholics face are substantial. He offers us a fresh conception of what is needed to let the Gospel message find a hearing today. Isn't that enough? At least for the moment?

This weekend at my parish, our retired monsignor in his homily noted that he'd been ordained for 47 years, quoted the first two sentences of Gaudium et spes as his inspiration for his priesthood, and said that he had been completely revivified by hearing Francis express the same vision of the church that he'd been inspired by so many years ago. He got an enthusiastic ovation.

Wasn't Rod Dreher a Roman Catholic for about five minutes? Amazing how the Times can only round up the usual suspects, even if their credentials are expired.

Rod Dreher was Catholic for seven years.  The bishops' cover-ups enfuriated him and drove him to the Orthodox  Church.  He often seems nostaglic, though.  (I follow his blog a bit -- some interesting conversations there between liberals and conservatives.) 

One worry is that when Francis says let bishops handle questions of orthodoxy and let the CDF have just  mediator role, this might license the zanier bishops to step up their excommunication schedule, as in Australia: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/dissidents-preach-a-new-breed-of-catholicism-20120805-23nyg.html

Fr O'Leary, I agree that we need to see that what pope Francis does is consistent with his wonderful words of dialogue, openness and creativity.

However in this case the issue has been burning for a while, it is not clear how much pope Francis had to do with it, and "Archbishop Hart said Father Reynolds was excommunicated because after his priestly faculties were withdrawn he continued to celebrate the Eucharist publicly and preach contrary to the teachings of the church." I am all in favor of unbounded freedom of expression, but I draw the line at actions. A man who continues to celebrate the Eucharist after his faculties are withdrawn, who creates an association with an opening message stating "First was my growing conviction that the Institutional Catholic Church was wrong in its teaching on Women's Ordination and on Homosexuality. More recently I discerned a personal calling to minister to and with Catholic people who share these beliefs and have been longing for a community that celebrates the Catholic Eucharist in ways that support these beliefs," and who, if one is to believe the media (but I find that hard to believe), did not object to a man sharing communion with his dog, such a man is not in full communion with the church.

I am not ready to say that this is an example of excessive use of power by the CDF, nor to see the hand of pope Francis behind it.

 

"But of course Greg Reynolds was excommunicated by Francis"

How much do you think that Cardinal Pell had to do with this?

Good points. As with John XXIII the Curia is going to issue things without the pope's permission. With the pope we have to see an overall pattern before we can discern. This happened with John Paul II and Ratzinger. The pope was praying with other faiths in Assissi while Ratzinger was condemning it. 

"Unfortunately, some deeply involved in the prolife movement have taken those remarks as a rebuke. That is an overreaction and misinterpretation of what the pope said."

Well, it was quite plainly a rebuke to somebody. If not those "deeply involved in the prolife movement," then to whom?

The Pope's critics on this are a definite group. They're the ones, like Bishop Tobin, who are "disappointed" that Francis hasn't said more about abortion, and say so publically to pressure him into doing so. They are the ones who censured the American sisters for PRECISELY the same attitudes that the Pope has now endorsed, namely -- putting abortion and gay marriage into perspective and attending first to the works of mercy. 

"Obviously, Francis was objecting to the uncompromising and confrontational rhetoric of some Catholic activists. Why? Because that approach is simply not working."

Francis, the pragmatist? No. This misses the mark entirely. I don't think that in Francis's interview he is talking about changing tactics. It is about a long-range strategy. Taken in context of everything else he has said, about the times we live in, about the challenges, about the development of doctrine, about everything -- he is making strategic moves to change things in deeper ways than just a pragmatic shift in tactics.

That was the whole problem with the "new evangelization" -- oh, the tactics were going to be more welcoming and all that, but there really wasn't a new strategy, and people can see through this new varnish on the same old picture pretty fast.

"Obviously, Francis was objecting to the uncompromising and confrontational rhetoric of some Catholic activists."

One more comment on this. How could it possibly be that the Pope is fixed on merely some "rhetoric" of "activists"? This hypothesis lets off the hook the whole American episcopate, which has collectively summoned all the muscle it can to defeat President Obama's health care reform because of one detail concerning contraception.

One detail. As far as the bishops are concerned, all the health care that will be improved and made available because of that plan--care for the poor, for everybody--is rightly held hostage to one tiny provision about contraception.

All the money and effort expended on fighting this, the whole "religious freedom" crusade -- is this "the rhetoric of some Catholic activists"? No, it's the episcopate of the most wealthy and powerful country on the planet. That is who is being uncompromising and confrontational, and focussing all concern on one thing, to the exclusion of other things that arguably are closer to the core of the Christian message. And yes, this has gone way out of balance. 

For all those conservative Catholic pundits - loosely defined - who are desperately trying to keep a straight face and stiff upper lip when pronouncing that recent statements of Francis are [completely consistent] with JP2 and B16, David Gibson is tweeting that Tom Reese, S.J. got canned as editor of America Magazine for publishing the very ideas that now come straight from the pope's mouth!

Go figure ...  I guess:  Jesuits rule!

"whole American episcopate, which has collectively summoned all the muscle it can to defeat President Obama's health care reform because of one detail concerning contraception."

They are not looking so good. I would love to be a fly on the wall of the USCCB meeting this November.

Step One: Disband the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty and use the money to subsidie the ministries of our American sisters.

Rita - did Bishop Tobin actually say out loud that he is disappointed in Pope Francis?

Here is a link to the interview that Bishop Tobin gave to the "RI Catholic".

 

http://www.thericatholic.com/news/detail.html?sub_id=6041

If one thinks that at least in the later stages of gestation there is a human baby present, then defense of that child is indeed a compassionate act, an even more compassionate one than see that it has a lot to eat.

Unfortunately, Ann, those lawmakers and others who are so obsessed with being anti-abortion also seem to be the ones extremely obsessed with underfunding or even cancelling the SNAP program.

"Birth 'em and starve 'em" is compassionate?

Frank, thanks for that link.   Interesting.  (Actually, the interview as a whole isn't that interesting, but one or two things he said, including the "disappointed" remark, are interesting). It reads as though that particular remark wasn't elicited by the interviewer - Tobin sort of volunteered it on his own.

 

Probably of little concern to anyone here, but Pope Francis has changed our relationship with non-Catholic extended family members--which is all of them, actually--for the better. It's amazing how many teachings people outside the Church will take more seriously when those teachings are presented with friendliness and compassion, and when the Church is presented as a healer of human suffering rather than a judger of sins and rule-breaking. 

I think Pope Frances exudes great joy. As my kid was watching one of his visits with crowds of people, he said, "He seems like he's at a party and is glad everyone showed up."

 

 

Meanwhile, Francis has appartnetly excommunicated an Australian priest for speaking up for same-sex marriage and women's ordination ...  http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/church-dumps-rebel-priest-20130920-2u5... ....  and those at First Things are happy this shows the pope didn't mean what many thought he meant about gays and women ...  http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2013/09/23/francis-excomm...

 

The Pope's critics on this are a definite group. They're the ones, like Bishop Tobin, who are "disappointed" that Francis hasn't said more about abortion, and say so publically to pressure him into doing so. They are the ones who censured the American sisters for PRECISELY the same attitudes that the Pope has now endorsed, namely -- putting abortion and gay marriage into perspective and attending first to the works of mercy. 

This is a useful comment inasmuch as it highlights why people who hope for fundamental change in church teaching are (sorry) doomed to have those those hopes crushed.

Here is the CDF's summary of what the LCWR is being charged with. I'll add some comments of my own below these three bullets.

  • Addresses at the LCWR Assemblies. Addresses given during LCWR annual  Assemblies manifest problematic statements and serious theological, even doctrinal errors. The Cardinal offered as an example specific passages of Sr. Laurie Brink’s address about some Religious “moving beyond the Church” or even beyond Jesus. This is a challenge not only to core Catholic beliefs; such a rejection of faith is also a serious source of scandal and is incompatible with religious life. Such unacceptable positions routinely go unchallenged by the LCWR, which should provide resources for member Congregations to foster an ecclesial vision of religious life, thus helping to correct an erroneous vision of the Catholic faith as an important exercise of charity. Some might see in Sr. Brink’s analysis a phenomenological snapshot of religious life today. But Pastors of the Church should also see in it a cry for help.
  • Policies of Corporate Dissent. The Cardinal spoke of this issue in reference to letters the CDF received from “Leadership Teams” of various Congregations, among them LCWR Officers, protesting the Holy See’s actions regarding the question of women’s ordination and of a correct pastoral approach to ministry to homosexual persons, e.g. letters about New Ways Ministry’s conferences. The terms of the letters suggest that these sisters collectively take a position not in agreement with the Church’s teaching  on human sexuality. It is a serious matter when these Leadership Teams are not providing effective leadership and example to their communities, but place themselves outside the Church’s teaching.
  • Radical Feminism. The Cardinal noted a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith in some of the programs and presentations sponsored by the LCWR, including theological interpretations that risk distorting faith in Jesus and his loving Father who sent his Son for the salvation of the world.   Moreover, some commentaries on “patriarchy” distort the way in which Jesus has structured sacramental life in the Church; others even undermine the revealed doctrines of the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the inspiration of Sacred Scripture.

So here is my comment.  To the extent this summary is accurate of what the LCWR talks about at its meetings and in its materials, the LCWR would seem to be making the very same error, in light of Francis' preferred positioning of church teachings, that the episcopate is accused of.  In other words, allegedly like the US bishops, the LCWR is focusing on the same narrow band of hot-button issues - human sexuality, ordination of women, who is in and who is out of the church, and so on.  Granted, the LCWR presumably is taking the opposite side of each of those issues than the US bishops.  But Pope Francis' point isn't that the church should switch up and take the opposite side on each of those issues - it is that that church should shut up about those issues.

Francis is calling us to focus on things such as conversion, love and mercy.  Who could be against those?  Surely the American sisters are all for such a program.  Presumably, so are the bishops.  Presumably, so are the rest of us.  There is a good deal of commonality here - a vast, broad area for agreement.  It's salutary to remind ourselves that these wide and fruitful lands exist.  Perhaps Francis' reminder of what we hold in common will help dial down the tension between the American sisters and Rome.  But what is sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose.  If bishops should stop obsessing over these hot button issues, then shouldn't the LCWR do the same?

Francis' challenge, I believe, is fully as much to so-called liberals as to so-called conservatives.  Both sides need to leave the old playing field, band together as one and face the genuine, authentic challenges of the 21st century.  It may be that the things we've bickered about for the last half-century or so don't really matter too much anymore.

 

Jim McC --

Birth 'em and don't give 'em enough to eat is not nearly so awful as kill 'em.  

The Republicans, by the way (the "compassionate conservatives", remember?), have cut food stamps for the next ten years.

 

Jim, Francis was explicit: "We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods."

You can try to make a case that by extension, his explanation - "The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance" - can be applied to the nuns as well, but I think it's a stretch: in the context of the preceding paragraph,  it is clear that he people he has in mind are, first and foremost, those who keep hammering on about abortion, gay marriage and contraception.

 

Now, perhaps you are taking his words to heart and applying them to the nuns, but that's your own take, not the pope's words.

If we really want to think about extensions, then don't those words also apply to those who are obsessed about the poor, when they ought to worry more about the sex abuse scandal for example? Pope Francis, I'm looking at you!

In other words: you can twist his words to apply them to any issue you want downplayed and ny you want highlighted. 

 

Claire--

But the setting for that statement was a woman confessing her sin of abortion to a priest.   That puts a different context on things that the far left has ignored.

A priest who continues to celebrate the Eucharist after his faculties are withdrawn -- I am not sure that this is so monstrous as to merit excommunication. Theologically, a priest may celebrate the Eucharist in case of need even if he has been laicized, or indeed excommunicated. This is rather different from taking part in the ordination of a woman or consecrating a schismatic bishop, not only because of the more radical challenge to church order, but also because of the invalidity in the former case.

I understand that the English theologian Charles Davis continued to celebrate the Eucharist for friends after he had left the RCC.

Jim P - business travel so can't respond with documentation on your LCWR comment but your comparison is incorrect - apples to oranges.

Hope others can provide the data:

- e,g, Sr, Brink - her talk has been taken out of context; a few lines highlighted out of context.  A true hatchet act by the forces to be .....and she was not laying out some principle or act/decision that the LCWR was going to stand behind; spend millions of dollars on, etc.  Your comparison limps so badly.

- radical feminism....same as above...this is a pre-judgment that has no foundation...it is a pre-judgment by those who feel threatened by something

- female ordination - that is not a corporate policy of LCWR....that would be the same as someone criticizing Burke for his traddie behavior and then drawing the conclusion that every bishop is just like burke

Jim,

Aren't you omitting the point that was so widely reported here, namely that the sisters were not sufficiently vocal in their opposition to abortion and gay marriage? 

I'm sorry, I do not have the CDF statement at hand to check. Was that mis-reported? If it's not in the CDF statement, perhaps some bishops who incited the investigation said so, I am sorry not to have the citation.

We all know about Laurie Brink, and I am surprised you would continue to cite that passage after all that has been said in this blog about how the CDF's critique takes her comments completely out of context and distorts their intention.

Finally, glad you found my comment, uh, helpful, but I don't see how you conclude from what you have stated that those who hope for changes are "doomed." I certainly don't think anything I've said here merits a "doomed to failure" label -- I didn't propose any changes. 

Mr. Pauwels,        

Please tell me you did not compare the USCCB with the LCWR. Has a member of the LCWR ever “observed” a session of the USCCB—no? The USCCB is the group behind ‘Fortnight for Freedom’; members of the USCCB took it upon themselves to campaign against civil marriages for gays and lesbians, and as Ms. Ferrone commented, it was/has been “the whole American episcopate, which has collectively summoned all the muscle it can to defeat President Obama's health care reform because of one detail concerning contraception.” When sexuality was discussed it was on a scientific and pastoral level and not in a way that alienated an entire cohort.  One last comment, women as a whole and the LCWR in particular, has neither decision making power nor the pulpit from which to speak as do priests, Bishops, Cardinals, et al.  It’s not “goose and ganders” it’s more apples and oranges.

I'm thinking you have never experienced real hunger nor have lived with small children who are hungry and you have little to feed them.  It's another form of killing people---just a slow form.

Just to add to the excellent comments of Ms. Sipe -- any fair examination of LCWR will show they are not focused "on the same narrow band of hot-button issues - human sexuality, ordination of women, who is in and who is out of the church, and so on."  Outside of how they can best live their communal, consecrated lives in the the 21st Century, LCWR is focused things like immigration, income inequality, access to healthcare, human trafficking, environmental issues and (horror of horrors) feminism -- (the ultra-radical belief that woman are, you know, human beings!)

LCWR is out there with real people, facing real problems.  These nuns are taking on the smell of the sheep, while the US  bishops are following the lead of small group of right-wing ideologues, organizing forthnights against imagined bogeymen.

Fr O'Leary, doesn't it all depend on how it is done, that is, on whether the attitude is adversarial? That priest "discerned" a calling to minister to a new community, for which he founded an association. He sounds, not fearful and uncertain, as one normally is when going a different way from the rest of the church, but almost brazen. He is going his own way instead of trying to stay in unity with the rest of the church.

Aren't you omitting the point that was so widely reported here, namely that the sisters were not sufficiently vocal in their opposition to abortion and gay marriage? 

Rita and all, my apologies, I neglected to provide a URL to the doctrinal assessment - it is here.

Regarding your question, here is what I believe to be the pertinent passage from that document:

while there has been a great deal of work on the part of LCWR promoting issues of social justice in harmony with the Church’s social doctrine, it is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question that is part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States. Further, issues of crucial importance to the life of Church and society, such as the Church’s Biblical view of family life and human sexuality, are not part of the LCWR agenda in a way that promotes Church teaching. Moreover, occasional public statements by the LCWR that disagree with or challenge positions taken by the Bishops, who are the Church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals, are not compatible with its purpose.

So yes, I believe you're right in saying that the LCWR is accused of not paying sufficient attention to issues that are part of the "lively public debate".  But more is said here:

  • that when those issues are broached, they are broached in a way that doesn't correspond to what the church actually teaches about these things
  • On occasion, they are broached in a way that out-and-out contradicts waht the church teaches

But the larger point of my comment is to note that focusing on this narrow cluster of issues, whether it is pushed by left or by right, has the risk of seeming to be all that the church stands for, all that the church talks about.  I'd add that conjoining this short panel of hot buttons to a second panel of laudable concerns about social justice doesn't really get to what the pope is after, either.  He is calling the left, as much as the right, to rethink and reprioritize.

I've seen a number of commentary by liberal Catholics who seem to think that the Holy Father is vindicating their preferred views and stands on controversial issues, or perhaps is laying the groundwork for a shift in church teaching in a direction that is preferable to liberal Catholics.  I think this take is wrong.  I think he is saying, "keep talking about abortion, contraception, et al - but do it in the context of preaching the Gospel."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim Pauwels:

Your interpretation against others' interpretations. Are we now going to have more division as a consequence of the Pope's interview?

Please tell me you did not compare the USCCB with the LCWR. Has a member of the LCWR ever “observed” a session of the USCCB—no? The USCCB is the group behind ‘Fortnight for Freedom’; members of the USCCB took it upon themselves to campaign against civil marriages for gays and lesbians, and as Ms. Ferrone commented, it was/has been “the whole American episcopate, which has collectively summoned all the muscle it can to defeat President Obama's health care reform because of one detail concerning contraception.”

The USCCB and the LCWR are not really comparable (thus I don't know why it would make sense for the LCWR to observe, in an authoritatvie sense, the USCCB, as the LCWR has no authority over the USCCB) - but the Holy Father's admonitions surely apply to both organizations, as well as to the rest of us.  

I was going to let Rita's comment about Obamacare pass, as there is only so much one can argue about in a given day :-), but since you've republished it, I'll respond.   The USCCB cited a number of reasons for its initial opposition to Obamacare - most/all of which have been vindicated by subsequent events.  One of those reasons - by no means the only reason, but one of them - was concern about the possibility of threats to freedom of conscience.  And as it turns out, the contraception mandate vindicates that particular concern,  as it is one concrete instance of Obamacare subverting freedom of conscience: Catholic business owners who conscientiously object to cooperating in the distribution and use of contraceptives have no choice accept to accede to the contraception mandate; there is no exception for them.  

The bishops' overall opposition to Obamacare occured during that period of time when the legislation was being considered and debated, before it became law.  I'm not aware of the bishops working actively to repeal Obamacare since it became law - and it has come up for reconsideration in the House and Senate dozens of time since it became law - much less "summoning all the muscle it can to defeat Obamacare."   Certainly, the GOP has tried mightily to overturn Obamacare, but I don't think that can be said of the bishops.  (If what I'm saying here is not accurate, if the USCCB has actively lobbied on behalf of Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare or has undertaken other significant activities to overturn the legislation, I'd be glad to be corrected).

What the bishops have done is form ad hoc committee for religious liberty.  It's purpose, though, is not to "defeat Obamacare", and I'm not aware of anything the ad hoc committee has done to oppose Obamacare as a whole.  The ad hoc committee has opposed the contraceptive mandate, which is just one of the million heads of the hydra that is Obamacare, albeit a very important one for the bishops.  

 

Just to add to the excellent comments of Ms. Sipe -- any fair examination of LCWR will show they are not focused "on the same narrow band of hot-button issues - human sexuality, ordination of women, who is in and who is out of the church, and so on."  Outside of how they can best live their communal, consecrated lives in the the 21st Century, LCWR is focused things like immigration, income inequality, access to healthcare, human trafficking, environmental issues and (horror of horrors) feminism -- (the ultra-radical belief that woman are, you know, human beings!)

Fair enough, Jack.  As a matter of fact, the CDF does take a couple of paragraphs in its document to acknowledge all the good things that the LCWR, and women religious more generally, do.  I'm sure the congregation could/should have been much more effusive on this score than it was.

But sauce, geese and ganders again.  Your list of things that the LCWR focuses on, is also what the USCCB focuses on - contrary to a number of assertions here at dotCom that the bishops "obsess" on abortion, contraception and same sex marriage.  A quick visit to USCCB press releases during the month of September reveals the USCCB speaking out on the following topics: feeding the hungry, immigration reform, peace in Syria, overseas humanitarian aid, and support for Chinese American Catholics, as well as liturgy, bishop assignments, abortion and religious liberty.  Certainly, it is true that the secular press and even the Catholic press doesn't pick up a lot of these stories. 

 

 

 

Your interpretation against others' interpretations. Are we now going to have more division as a consequence of the Pope's interview?

John - I dunno, I don't feel particularly divided from anyone here.  Can't we talk about what the pope's words mean, and their implications, without being divided from one another?

 

 

Jim Pauwels, 

In following the debate on the contraception mandate, I continue to wonder where one can reasonably draw the line between individual religious liberty and that of the general population.  Allowing individual employers to disregard laws that are meant for all could open the door to consequences that might not serve the general good. 

The state already limits individual religious freedom in many cases and I would be interested in your responses to these cases - a few examples:

Do you disagree with the legal requirement imposed on members of certain religions that they seek medical care for their minor children when those children are at risk (Jehovah's Witnesses and Christian Scientists being among the most notable)? 

Would you agree or disagree with the court ruling that denies certain Native American tribes the right to use traditional (but illegal) substances in their sacred rituals?

Are the religious rights of Mormons (and of some Muslims) violated by the legal ban on polygamy?

Do you agree or disagree with courts that have ordered Muslim women to reveal their faces when having a photo taken for a legal ID (driver's license, passports etc) or when being questioned in court?

And finally, an example of a self-imposed "violation" of religious belief -

Are the Christian Scientists who own and operate the Christian Science Monitor wrong when they violate their own religious beliefs to offer health care insurance to the non-Christian Science employees of the organization who may (or may not) choose to take advantage of it?

These are fairly mainstream examples of intersections of individual religious beliefs and the common good. Certainly many more extreme examples could be cited (sacrificing virgins as part of a religious rite is not acceptable, for example). 

Finally, should Roman Catholics be given greater legal leeway in exercising their own religious liberty at the expense of the religious liberty of the non-Catholics they employ than do other religious groups?

Turns out America Magazine mis-translated Pope Francis' comments on women; NCR has the corrected version. http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/america-apologizes-omission-francis-interview

I am still waiting to find out why I am "doomed."

Rita - I fervently hope your are saved. :-)  I miswrote; I meant to say that (some of ) liberals' hopes are doomed.

Irene - I agree with Phylis Zagano - that's a big omission.

Ann Chapman - respectively: no, disagree, probably not, not sure but tend toward agreeing with the courts, no.

Regarding your final question: I confess I don't understand it.  Does it refer to the contraception mandate?  If so - I don't see whatever putative "right" the contraception mandate is supposed to confer  to consumers of contracepttives as being a religious-liberty right.  

Why is Congress being granted an exemption from having to enroll in Obamacare?  I don't understand why the democrats who led the fight for the Affordable Care Act don't want to subscribe to it.  Can someone give me a reasonable answer to this question?

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