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This Time It Was Recorded

Pope Francis was interviewed by the editor of Corriere della Sera who brought a number of recording devices to the interview.

It has been published in its entirety in Corriere as well as in L'Osservatore Romano. There are many topics covered that will elicit much commentary. The fullest account in English I've seen is the report by Gerard O'Connell in Vatican Insider.

Here is one personal observation the Pope makes:

“I like to be among people, to be with the one who is suffering, to go into the parishes”, he stated. But he denied that he has gone out at night to feed the down and outs near the Vatican. He made clear however that he detests being depicted as a kind of superman or star: “Sigmund Freud said that in every idealization there is an aggression. To depict the Pope as a kind of superman or a star seems to me offensive”.

And on Humanae Vitae Francis said:

When asked whether the Church would again revisit the question of birth control, some 50 years after Humanae Vitae, Francis recalled that, at the end, Paul VI “recommended that confessors should be very merciful, and be attentive to the concrete situations”.  Francis praised his predecessor for being “prophetic” and for “having the courage to go against the majority, to defend the moral discipline, to exercise a cultural brake, and to oppose present and future Neo-Malthusianism.”   But, he said, it is not a question of changing doctrine, rather “it is a matter of going into the issue in depth and bringing it about that the pastoral practice takes account of situations and of what is possible for persons”.  This will be discussed at the synod, he added.

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Excessive praise is always a setup and conceals hostility.  So important that Francis sees that.  Quite diplomatic on Humanae Vitae. Leaves it dangling saying that the Synod will take it up. If the Synod changes HV, I wonder if it will use language like: As Paul VI says in HV......

Again, for our gilded age and preoccupation with wealth, Francis reminds. Will Langone complain to Dolan again. Despite Dolan one cannot say  Francis  "loves the rich."

 “the Gospel condemns the cult of wellbeing" and emphasizes that when we are judged in death “our closeness to poverty” will be counted. “Poverty keeps idolatry far away, and opens the door to Providence," he states.

John Thavis also has good excerpts:

http://www.johnthavis.com/a-pope-who-wants-to-be-normal#.UxdJ615Fp1A

And here is Josh McElwee's extended write up:

http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/francis-marks-anniversary-interview...

Much to chew over, and as usual something for everyone -- to like and dislike.

Francis certainly doesn't have the same view of the sex abuse scandals that American Catholics have, and that seems like a real potential problem for him, especially in the US context.

It's interesting that the interviewer, de Bortoli, sets it up from a very defensive posture, saying that "fortunately the scandals are behind us" and asks Francis to respond to a provocative letter to him in the rightwing paper Il Foglio asking the pope to launch a "counteroffensive" to critics on abuse, which the signatories call "blackmail by the secular world's rabid vanguards."

http://www.ilfoglio.it/soloqui/21852

Well, when you put it that way...

Then again, much of the Catholic right has had the rug pulled from under them by Francis' pointed dismissal of the idea of an agenda of a few "non-negotiables."

“I never understood the expression 'non-negotiable values.' Values are values, period. I can’t say that among the fingers of a hand, one is less useful than the other. So I don't understand in what sense there can be negotiable values.”

Well, there goes the last 25 years of official Catholic political action in the public square...

IMHO, while his contniued witness for the poor will capture all hearts, if he does not act more decisively with bishops who allowed the worse phase of the sex abuse scandal, the laity will grow disenchanted. And then it he refuses to recognize the non-acceptance of HV re: contraception, he will completely lose much of the West that has put far too many hopes for reform upon him,

With his view of contraception, he seems to be ignoring all the results recorded so far from the Vatican surveys.  No matter how much every likes him, there is no way he's not going to be able to change people's mind's on this subject.

What's  the view on contraception among Catholics in Africa, Asia and Latin America? Do they share the same perspective as Catholiics in the US and Europe, or do they diverge?   

 

"More than 90 percent of Catholics in Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Spain and France support the use of contraception. Those less inclined to support it were in the Philippines (68 percent), Congo (44 percent) and Uganda (43 percent). In the United States, 79 percent of Catholics support using contraception."

http://www.courier-journal.com/viewart/20140209/FEATURES10/302090045/Pol...

But when speaking of Asia, Japan is clearly for contraception  ...  http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/japanese-bishops-vatican-mindset-do...

If anyone hears about a complete English translation, please let us know.

Here's a Spanish translation from Argentina's La Nación:

http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1669312-francisco-pintar-al-papa-comosi-fuera...

"Francis recalled that, at the end, Paul VI “recommended that confessors should be very merciful, and be attentive to the concrete situations”."

and:

"But, he said, it is not a question of changing doctrine, rather “it is a matter of going into the issue in depth and bringing it about that the pastoral practice takes account of situations and of what is possible for persons”."

What does this mean?  That what the Church says may not contradict what the Church says, but if it listens carefully then what it tells others to do may contradict what it says?  Or what?

Anne:

It is quite obvious what it means. As Humpty Dumpty says in Alice's adventures in wonderland, when I use a word it means just what I choose it mean !

 

As Bill says, if the Synod changes HV, I wonder if it will use language like: As Paul VI says in HV...The answer is of course. This is the perennial teaching of the Church and always has been!!

 

 

What does this mean?

FWIW, here is what Paul VI wrote in Humanae Vitae, in a section headed "Christian Compassion".  I believe this is what Francis was referencing when he noted that Paul VI "“recommended that confessors should be very merciful, and be attentive to the concrete situations”:

29. Now it is an outstanding manifestation of charity toward souls to omit nothing from the saving doctrine of Christ; but this must always be joined with tolerance and charity, as Christ Himself showed in His conversations and dealings with men. For when He came, not to judge, but to save the world, (41) was He not bitterly severe toward sin, but patient and abounding in mercy toward sinners?

Husbands and wives, therefore, when deeply distressed by reason of the difficulties of their life, must find stamped in the heart and voice of their priest the likeness of the voice and the love of our Redeemer.

So speak with full confidence, beloved sons, convinced that while the Holy Spirit of God is present to the magisterium proclaiming sound doctrine, He also illumines from within the hearts of the faithful and invites their assent. Teach married couples the necessary way of prayer and prepare them to approach more often with great faith the Sacraments of the Eucharist and of Penance. Let them never lose heart because of their weakness.

 

IN Paul VI's defence, this you tube video from the Austin Institute on the economics of sex, while grossly oversimplifying the subject of sexuality does persuasively argue that the development of birth control was a "technological shock" that had an impact on interpersonal relationships espcially marriage. People are marrying less and older now.

In some ways, this video validates at least part of what Paul VI predicted...

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbFrubb-AeM

 

 

People get married less often now for many reasons, most of them economical (women can now support themselves) .... I doubt it has anything to do with contraception.  Philosopher Martha Nussbaum wrote  ...

"the rise of divorce in recent years is probably connected to women’s social and political empowerment more than to any other factor. When women had no rights, no marketable skills, and hence no exit options, they often had to put up with bad marriages, with adultery, neglect, even with domestic violence. When women are able to leave, they demand a better deal. This simple economic explanation for the rise of divorce—combined with Milton’s emphasis on people’s need for emotional attunement and conversation—is much more powerful than the idea of a fall from ethical purity in explaining how we’ve moved from where we were to where we are today.:

http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/a-right-to-marry-same-sex-marriag...

True Crystal. In fact, statistically most divorces are intiated by women (70% I read). But divorce is one thing, marriage another. Why are people marrying later? Marraige is more attractive for women, for a whole series of evolutionary and cultural reasons, than it is to men The video does make an accurate point that, in the main, men and women approach sex differently. The meaning attached to it is different. Removing the consequence of pregancy does not change that fact. Women still have differing reasons for sex than men.

According to their presentation in the casual sex department, women have much more options, many more men than available women but in the marriage option, women are at a disadvantage.

The economy of sex, and by extension marriage, has been impacted.

That is not to place any moral value to artificial contraception (any more than the use of pesticides to encourage growith as the video mentions). It is to say that there are unintended consequences to that technology on ecology, Just as there are unintended consequences of contraception on the human ecology concerning marriage.

So, in some senses, Paul VI did make some valid and, indeed prophetic points, in HV. I am not saying that I agree that artificial contraception is intrinsically evil in each and every instance in marriage. That is a stretch. But his caution around the implications of the technology on human sexuality is correct.

George,

You wrote ... "Marraige is more attractive for women, for a whole series of evolutionary and cultural reasons, than it is to men The video does make an accurate point that, in the main, men and women approach sex differently. The meaning attached to it is different. Removing the consequence of pregancy does not change that fact. Women still have differing reasons for sex than men."

I'd disagree. 

First, men are actually the bigger beneficiaries of marraige than women, economically and also health-wise ... http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2010/01/19/women-men-and-the-new-economic... ...  http://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20030915/only-happy-marriage-is-health...

Second, men and women are actually almost identical in what they like and wnat in relationships and sex  .....  http://www.apa.org/research/action/difference.aspx ...  http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-02/science-confirms-obvious-m...

Third, the reasons why people don't marry as early or as often are pretty much the same as why there are more divorces ... there more other opportunities (like living together) and more people (especialyl women) able to  afford a single life, etc. ...  http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/why-are-fewer-and-fewer-people-getti...

Sorry, that first link from the Pew Forum is here ... http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2010/01/19/women-men-and-the-new-economic...

Crystal:

Those studies make my point:

From the study:

Only a few main differences appeared: Compared with women, men could throw farther, were more physically aggressive, masturbated more, and held more positive attitudes about sex in uncommitted relationships.

So there were, indeed similarities in cognition and verbal and non-verbal cognition. But I do disagree with these findings because they contradict other studies in language that show that, on average, women have far better language skills, possess a larger range of vocabulary, and are able to make connections between relationships more accurately than men. In fact, there was a study (cannot find it at the moment) that showed that girls in a classroom were 92% accurate identifying who was friends with who in a classroom than boys who were only something like 70% accurate. So awareness of relationships is a greater skill, at least among young girls in this study. Maybe the sexes equalize after time but there are clear differences. But, even this study showed differences with respect to sexuality and attitudes around sex.

With respect to marriage:

Women who got little satisfaction from their marriages came to the study in worse health. They didn't get better over time. Happily married women started out in pretty good health and aged well.

"Women in distressed marriages -- and in this group, this meant they were not all that distressed, but less happy than other women -- already suffered the negative effects of being in a less-than-happy marriage,"

Yet, men consistently are able to earn more, less stress and less other problems than women. So, men can handle a distressed marriage more than women and a distressed marriage is less likely to be problematic for a man which gets back to approach to sexuality. Men will probably be more likely to engage in uncommitted, extramarital sexual affairs than women.

And women will be more likely to want to exit a distressed marriage (as I said earlier).  And they will seek a relationship that is satisfactory because they place a higher value on postive relationships as part of their well-being.

Banning contraception addresses the symptoms, not the problem.  It's so shocking that we live in a world where the prospect of a healthy mother gving birth to a healthy baby isn't always considered a blessing. But that IS the world we live in: where men and women can't afford to have children; where the professional and material accomplishments of men and women are valued more than the amazing achievement of raising a child; where women have preventable health issues that make it dangerous for them to have children.  

Even in a more perfect world, there would still be a need for contraception- to protect a woman's health, or where parents aren't capable of parenting and they know it, for example.

But if our culture changed its values and truly valued family and children and structured itself to support and celebrate families, there would be more judicious use of contraception.  Then the Church would be right to encourage people to be more open to having children.  But I think in the world we live in now, our job is not to oppose contracpetion,  but to work to make it a better place for families and children.

Just to be clear Irene, I am not opposing contraception. I am just saying that any technology, of any type including this very media, has both postive and negative social and cultural consequences and so did this technology.

We just need to think about how we integrate it into our lives. Of course, contraception occurs in the wider context of human sexuality and even here there are variances around its expression.

 

E.g. Even assuming all safe precautions are taken, is multiple sexual partners ethically problematic? ; is adultery wrong in each and every instance? On these questions, gender plays a role and contraception has eliminated at least part of the hesitancy around engaging in such experiments.