Pope Francis on the Family and Human Life

What a first year this has been for Pope Francis and for the Church! From Pius XII to the current pontiff, the Church and the world have been exceptionally blessed with a string of pontiffs who have been outstanding in the area that is most important for all of us – holiness. All these popes have been proposed for canonization with the exception of the still-living Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and I would not count him out after he leaves this vale of tears.

Pope Francis’ situation is unusual. Perhaps never has a pope in modern times been both so attractive to the world press and so misquoted especially on the topic of sexuality. The motivation appears obvious. In fact, the secular media is hoping against hope that somehow Francis wants to or is capable of changing infallibly proclaimed Church teaching in this area. Sadly, much of the misinformation comes from poorly formed Catholics who dismiss the moral teaching of the Church on matters such as birth control, the permanence of marriage, abortion, sex (whether heterosexual or homosexual) outside of marriage, and the definition of marriage as a faithful union of one man and one woman for life.

Photograph taken by Tânia Rêgo and was produced by Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency.

Photograph taken by Tânia Rêgo and was produced by Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency.

It is no surprise that much of this wishful thinking comes from the Western world, which is now pagan in fact and in practice. The positive side of this rejection of natural law norms and collapse in Christian belief may be the potential for the Church’s new evangelization to attract millions to union with Rome, including even large numbers of our separated brothers in Christ. In this way the Church could substantially realize one of our soon-to-be-Saint John Paul the Great’s greatest dreams and hopes: reunion! Given the drastic and continued shrinkage in the mainline Protestant churches, in the near future (perhaps even by 2017, the 500th anniversary of the pounding of Luther’s theses onto the Cathedral door in Wittenberg), the Catholic Church may have effectively completed the Counter-Reformation, although the numbers of the unchurched will likely remain substantial.

Among other profound challenges confronting the era in which Pope Francis has the responsibility of guiding the barque of St. Peter is the failure of much of the world, especially Europe and the U.S., to reproduce in sufficient numbers to replace their populations. This is both a crisis of faith in the future and a crisis in Catholic faith that, despite media disinformation, our pope does not share. As Cardinal Raymond Burke points out, the pope has spoken “unambiguously in defense of Catholic teaching on abortion, contraception, euthanasia and marriage,” and it is clear that the Holy Father firmly supports all Catholic moral teaching. As Cardinal Bergoglio, for example, he called efforts to redefine marriage “an anthropological regression.” More recently, in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis has written:

Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defence of unborn life is closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems.

No, the pope will not and cannot change fundamental church doctrine, no matter how eager the secular media are to record the revolution.

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The feast of St. Joseph, marks the one-year anniversary of Pope Francis inauguration Mass. At that time he presented the Holy Family as the model for marriage in these words:

How does Joseph exercise his role as her protector? Discretely, humbly, and silently. But with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand. From the time of his betrothal to Mary until the finding of the twelve- year old Jesus in the temple of Jerusalem, he is there at every moment with loving care. As the spouse of Mary, he is at her side in good times and bad, in the journey to Bethlehem for the census and in the anxious hours she gave birth: amidst the drama of the flight into Egypt, during the frantic search for their child in the Temple and later in the day to day life of the family of Nazareth, in the workshop where he taught his trade to Jesus.

Happily, therefore, we can conclude that this first pope from the Americas (although only one generation removed from Italian soil) will guard the integrity of the family in the Church as Joseph protected Mary and her Son. Pope Francis remains recognizably pope and Church doctrine is still Church doctrine. And the gates of hell—not to mention the media and those eager to dilute demanding teachings—will not prevail against it!

Fr. C. J. McCloskey III, S.T.D. is a Church historian and Research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington, DC. He is perhaps best known for guiding into the Church such luminaries as Dr. Bernard Nathanson, Lawrence Kudlow, Robert Novak, Judge Robert Bork, and Senator Sam Brownback. His articles, reviews, and doctoral thesis have been published in major Catholic and secular periodicals. He is co-author (with Russell Shaw) of Good News, Bad News: Evangelization, Conversion, and the Crisis of Faith (Ignatius Press) and the co-editor of "The Essential Belloc" (St. Benedict's Press).
Articles by Fr. McCloskey:

  • @FMShyanguya

    The Media. You are ‘the media’. Any chance you can throw further light to say the incoherent clarification by Fr. Rosica?
    There was a time when the faithful knew what the Pope said even if id not agree with him. Here, all Roads Lead to Pope and not in a positive light.
    Consternation and confusion among even the ordinary faithful; disagreement among Bishops, etc. Yet atheists etc. are rejoicing. Those who were a thorn in the side of the Church during B16 have stopped fighting the church. One wonders why those who historically are opposed to the Church are all over sudden in tune with the Pope. No, Father, it is not the media.

  • Grtgrandpa-Tom

    A lot of secular web site I visit and blog on (in the USA) do indeed believe this Pope is on the verge of changing Catholic doctrine. Many whom I have debated with claim this Pope is in full acceptance of civil unions, including gay unions. This is because of the lack of clarification this Pope has when confronted with questions regarding civil unions, and gay marriage. There is a great silence from this Pope, and the Catholic Church regarding religious freedom, like in the case of the Arizona bill which sided with mammon, and is forcing religious business owners to cater to gays. Some people have even went as far as saying this Pope has surrounded himself with gays. Just wish he would be more unequivocal in stating that God created the male and female, and the Church will “never” give in to the so called human rights claimed by so many from the LGBT community. We need his backing and support. Silence is not golden. Political correctness is not where the Church needs to side with. And in closing, I must say how sad it is that Islam is persecuting Christians world wide, and the band plays on. Pope Urban The Ist did not allow this to happen, when he dispatched the First Crusade in 1095.

  • Katalina

    Sorry but I am afraid you are mistaken Father. The responses to the Vatican ‘s own questionnaire as well as the Pew Poll show and clearly say that the Majority of Catholics expect this Pope to change all of the Church Teachings including woman Priests and birth control and same sex marriage. But than again WHO AM I TO JUDGE ? I’s what made them come to this confusion. On the other hand he may be bringing more interest to the church and to the Papacy but on the life issues they clearly reject. This is on record.

    • quisutDeusmpc

      The Vatican’s questionnaire was nothing more than a “Gallup poll” to take the vital signs of the average laymen in the Church, so the teaching Magisterium would know what work they have cut out for themselves. It was not a focus group to determine public opinion in order to change the teachings of the Church to suit the “majority’s” fancy. The question the Church has to come to terms with is how and why “Catholics” ended up with the opinions they did, and how to rouse them out of their complacency to a deeper relationship with Christ. My father used to tell me that values are “caught” not taught. Our common everyday lived out faith is more influential than apologetic and theological argumentation. We have to LIVE in such a way that people say to themselves naturally, that springs up from within them, I want to be like that. And when they ask it won’t be a matter of some hackneyed, Catholic-speak that will win the day. It will be a consistent joy-filled day in and day out lived witness that ultimately convinces. We have to be AUTHENTIC, loving Catholics (“But now faith, hope, and love abides, but the greatest of these is love.” “This is how they will know you are my disciples, if you love one another”.) As important as truth is, love is infinitely more so (I did not come into the world to condemn, but to lay down my life for the sheep).

      • DavidWNaas

        Unfortunately, in the barbarian West, we have become accustomed to the idea of “triangulation” and “focus groups” determining political positions (and since everything has become political, expect the Church to follow suit.)
        More troubling is the survey just passed out in my parish, allegedly for the sake of the New Evangelization, which has questions which reflect a “business model” of the Church as a service organization. (“Are you being served?” “What can we do to enhance your worship experience?”)
        The Church which succumbs to this impulse will soon go the way of our Protestant brethren, who ceased trying to make saints and settled for satisfied customers (but “customers” of religion are never satisfied.)
        Pope Francis is revolutionary, not in changing 2000 year-old dogmas, but precisely in the place where he is telling us to follow the admonition given at the end of every Mass, “GO, and spread the Gospel.”

        • quisutDeusmpc

          I agree. Although, I also agree a lot of things do need to change. I myself was received into full communion with the Church from various fundamentalist/evangelical Protestant denominations. I attended a local parish for a good six weeks before I started RCIA and a grand total of three people every even said “Hello” to me in seven or eight months time. If I hadn’t been determined, I would have thought that parish was the most self centered place in the whole world. Who am I, right? I’m no one, why should I expect people to bother noticing a stranger. But, isn’t the Church, God’s family? Does a family ignore its own or those interested in associating with it?

          All I am saying is that the Church in the U. S. has had a self referential attitude, probably born of the struggle it had with the prevailing WASP culture of the 18th and 19th century (e. g. Catholics started the colony of Maryland, but the Protestants came in and elected Anglican governors and prevented Catholics from holding public office for a number of years before things settled out after the Revolutionary War; the Know Nothing anti-Catholic political parties of the 19th centuries, etc) and the fact that the underlying culture in the U. S. for 300 years was predominantly “Christian” and didn’t necessarily need “evangelizing”. Everyone kept to themselves. Evangelization took place by trying to make more children than the Protestants and raising them Catholic. No longer. Catholics are divorcing and contracepting on par with the prevailing secular culture and open dissent from Church doctrine isn’t scandalous, it blows freely and brazenly through the air. It is going to be a prolonged struggle to win hearts and minds one soul at a time back to Jesus Christ and His Church not only of converts, but of lapsed and even self identified “Catholics”. The antagonistic secular culture, the clergy sexual abuse scandal, the episcopal mismanagement of the consequences of the clergy sexual abuse scandal, the billions of dollars lost in payouts to victims that otherwise would have been available for whatever (catechesis, seminary/religious training/scholarships, parochial schools/catholic colleges, social justice ventures), the rise of the “nones” / spiritual but not religious mentality, moral relativism, catholic in name only-ism. It is going to be a miraculous uphill climb. If it takes a miracle, then I’m in. That means only God can do it, and it should be an exciting adventure.

    • WSquared

      Pff. Then again, those same people thought that Pope Benedict had okayed condoms and boiled a 200-page book down to one word. So the Catholics of whom you speak have been trying that particular spiel, and have been hoping and waiting, for a long time. And they will keep hoping and waiting.

      “But than again WHO AM I TO JUDGE ? I’s what made them come to this confusion.”

      That folks who either don’t know or can’t be bothered about what the Church teaches and why took the opportunity to take Francis completely out of context is old news. We do ourselves no favors by continuing to repeat this sort of canard without viewing the interview in its entirety. Francis said “who am I to judge?” specifically within the context of reiterating what the Catechism actually teaches. The grace of God is sufficient for the salvation of a gay person who turns to Christ. He does not leave them out in the cold.

      I also wouldn’t get too, too worried about Francis being taken out of context: our job includes, but is not exclusive to, counseling the doubtful and admonishing sinners. But on top of that, God works in mysterious ways. Actually some people making Light of the World all about condoms made me annoyed and angry enough to read the thing for myself. In the process, I discovered the work of Joseph Ratzinger, the supposed “Rottweiler,” who patiently and lovingly explained how the Church and her Magisterium would go to bat for me. Never underestimate the hook that God will use and the ways in which the twitch upon the thread becomes manifest.

      There are opportunities for the Church here, but we have to learn to see them.

  • cpsho

    Fr McCloskey writes, “In this way the Church could substantially realize one of our
    soon-to-be-Saint John Paul the Great’s greatest dreams and hopes:
    do you call great a man who kissed a book that blasphemes the blessed Apostles and that claims Jesus of Nazareth is not the “Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world” ?
    do you call great a man who had as a close collaborator, a serial pedophile that was dragging many souls (teenagers) to a very unpleasant place?

    • quisutDeusmpc

      Context cpsho, context. The Faith is an international one. All of Christendom had been Catholic at one point. Then after the Reformation, the wars of religion (the Thirty Years War), the French Revolution, the NATIONS of Europe fought against one another in two consecutive WORLD wars. Once they had been united by the Faith in the Triune God and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – true God and true man. And now BROTHERS, were fighting brothers and MILLIONS died in horrific ways: gattling guns, mustard gas, blitzkriegs, gas chambers. During much of that time the Pope was a hostage in the Vatican: first Napoleon, then the former Papal States / nation of Italy rebelled and he was a prisoner. After the fascists lost and the Second Vatican Council was convened it was determined that NO LONGER would religion be the reason why wars were fought: Christians against Muslims; Muslims against Jews; Christians against Jews; Protestants against Catholics; everyone against atheists. NO MORE.

      The kiss, is a gesture of friendship, not of betrayal (cf. Judas Iscariot, “Betrayest thou me with a kiss?”). It is NOT a statement about the truth or falsity of its doctrinal claims. It is a statement that says, We will dwell together in harmony, in spite of our differences of opinion regarding theological truth. It is a gesture of mutual respect. NOWHERE in Nostra Aetate or Ad Gentes or the Catechism of the Catholic Church, for that matter, is the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Faith diluted to say, in effect, there are no differences, we are all equal, it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. It’s not there. It DOES affirm similarities and places of agreement: of ALL the world religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam ALONE are “monotheistic” faiths. It DOES affirm that all three claim Abraham as a common ancestor. Where can we find areas of agreement, in other words, instead of intentionally looking for differences to use as levers to pry ourselves apart and use as clubs to strike each other over the head with. Nowhere, NOWHERE will you find in ANY of the documents ANYTHING that hints at, Truth doesn’t matter. Nowhere.

      Love is more important than truth, however (I Cor. 13 – where there are prophesies they will be done away with, though I speak with the tongues of men and angels and have not LOVE, I am as a clashing cymbal. LOVE endures all things). THIS is how they will know that you are my disciples, when they see your love. Love each other as I have loved you. I did not come into the world to condemn the world, but to give my life as a ransom for many. Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. And when Jesus was asked to give an example of who our “neighbor” is that we must love, He gave the example of someone who was an enemy of Israel. Love them who despitefully use you, pray for them, that you might heap coals of fire (humiliation) on their heads. Love is the fulfillment of the law.

      • cpsho

        Do you call great the man who prayed that St. John the Baptist should protect the religion of Islam?

        • quisutDeusmpc

          Absolutely. That is magnanimity – greatness of soul. It is someone who is so confident in the truth of their position that they can pray for someone else out of a true sense of love. Ecumenism in action. Did not Jesus receive the Magi, the adulterous woman, the woman at the well who had five or six husbands, the Roman centurion, Matthew the Jewish tax collector in collusion with the Romans. “Blessed are the PEACEMAKERS, for they shall see God”.

          • cpsho

            Sorry? To pray for St. John the Baptist to protect a religion that says “Jesus of Nazareth is not the Son of God” and “is not the Lamb of God”? THAT IS BLASPHEMY!
            To canonize a man who should know better and yet carried out such an act, is also BLASPHEMY.
            My sincere advice: all faithful Catholics should meditate seriously on this issue before getting themselves involved in the event scheduled for 27th April 2014.
            John Paul 2 is not a saint. Period.

          • quisutDeusmpc

            I believe you are thinking about it in the wrong light.

            Jesus said that among the prophets, none is greater than John the Baptist. Do you seriously believe that St. John the Baptist’s prayers would track along the lines that you are calumniously attributing to John Paul II, that he would confirm the unnamed religion in its error? Isn’t it more likely that by entrusting this unnamed religion to St. John the Baptist in prayer, JPII was confirming that St. John the Baptist would eventually lead them out of their error into the light? It is never good to think the worst of someone’s actions or attribute OUR anxieties onto their actions or words – that is called psychological projection. You are merely assuming that was JPII’s intention, and projection your assumption onto his motives.

            Let me give you an example. When two heads of state meet with each other they might bow to each other or shake hands. Does this imply that each head of state naturally approves of everything the other is doing, or if there is currently some controversy brewing, that they are giving tacit approval to the other head of state’s position? NO. It is merely polite protocol to greet someone in this way. It in no way implies that you are being subservient to them, or you are approving of everything they have said or done, or that you are choosing sides in some current controversy. It is a respectful gesture that confirms the dignity of the other person irregardless of any differences of opinion that may exist.

            Just so, JPII’s “kissing” another religions holy books does not imply that he approves of everything that is said in it, that he is implying that their doctrine is just as legitimate as Catholic doctrine, he is not implying that their holy book is “inspired”, he is not implying that Catholic tradition is subservient to the other religions holy book. Seen in the light of the history I discussed two or three posts ago, he is saying I am going to love you right where you are at. I respect your holy book. Not because of what it claims or even, in spite of what it says in contradiction to mine, but because YOU believe in it. I do not, but I will not use that as an excuse to be disrespectful or allow religion to be the reason why we can’t get along on this earth as human beings. So, please respect my holy books, the sacred Scriptures. I am not asking you to believe in it because we aren’t there yet. Merely that you respect my dignity as a person who DOES believe in them.

            I really can’t believe you can’t see this. You strike me as someone older than, say a teenager or a 20 something who tend, through lack of experience, to be strident and, at times, militant. Usually after 30 one has enough life experience under their belts to realize NO ONE is perfect and if I expect people to treat me with toleration, respect, and dignity, then I have to be prepared to do the same for others. It is called toleration. We all practice it whenever we get together with family during the holiday season. There is always that brother or sister, or father or mother, or aunt or uncle, or cousin or niece or nephew who just gets on our last nerve AND YET, we are FAMILY, and that is more important than our own personal disgruntled disapproval of their comments, or positions, or behavior. It’s kind of Humanity 101.

          • cpsho

            John Paul 2 said we should no longer pray for the conversion of the Talmudic Jews; and you call him a Catholic saint?
            What is the Roman Catholic Church turning to?
            Lord Jesus, help us.

          • quisutDeusmpc

            Romans 9-11. God’s covenant with Israel is not abbrogated by the coming of the Messiah (particularly Romans 11:29).

            Look Catholics used to teach a position known as “supercessionism” or “replacement theology”. The idea was that the Catholic Church supercedes the “children of Israel”; that the New Testament nullifies the biblical promises made to the Jews through the Abrahamic covenant.

            A position known as “dual-covenant” theology has been gaining attention. Again, read Romans chapters 9-11, particularly St. Paul’s statement at Romans 11: 25-29.

            In addition the ancient statement “extra ecclesiam nulla salus”, as a result of the extreme anti-semitism of the “radio preacher” Fr. Charles Coughlin in the 1930’s as well as the Fr. Feeney controversy of the 1950’s, has been tweaked or presented in a more nuanced way to mean that, any salvation that extends to people outside the confines of the visible Church, does so because it ultimately flows from and through the catholic Church, even if indirectly (in other words, all truth is God’s truth).

            Look, soon to be Saint Pope John Paul II, the Great was a Pole who lived through the totalitarian occupation of Poland by the Communists (where he worked in forced labor camps while clandestinely a member of the Polish underground resistance AND attending an underground seminary) as well as the WWII occupation by the Nazi fascists. His mother died during his early childhood and his father died toward the end of his adolescence. Did he harbor hatred toward the communists or the Nazis? No, he quietly labored as an underground priest to the university students of his day reminding them of God and their Polish Catholic culture. Those students grew to be the leaders of the Solidarity movement in Poland, that politically mobilized to work for the overthrow of Communism in Poland. In addition, as Pope, he actively travelled to and challenged the prevailing communist status quo by holding open air meetings of Catholics in public Masses and openly challenging Russian leaders when they thought, because of his extensive time in labor camps and “rehabilitation” (re-education) classes he would be a mushy pushover bishop from Krackow.

            Here is a man who endured the full might of the communist and Nazi socialist subjugation without the benefit of his family and came out with a determined sense of his underlying Catholic identity and the hope against hope of an underlying religious culture against a totalitarian regime. If you don’t think that is heroic, I’d like to see you live that life and see what your lived life looks like. You’ve lived in the cushy west and think your positions are “more Catholic than the pope”. Geesh.

          • cpsho

            This is what the Lord Jesus told the Jews: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! 38 Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (cf Matthew 23)
            Meaning no single Jew will see the Lord Jesus unless he or she accepts that “Stone which the builders rejected” (cf Psalm 118 v 22-26)

          • quisutDeusmpc

            This is nothing more than another 1st century Jewish way of another of the Lord’s sayings, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country”.

            It certainly does not say what you are implying: which is that somehow God’s promises to the people of God of Israel are completely abbrogated. That is not Catholic. Please read the Second Vatican Council document “Nostra Aetate”. Please read the council document “Ad Gentes”. Please read the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Church’s relationship to the other monotheistic faiths, particularly to Judaism. Read Pope John Paul II’s addresses while in the Holy Land in Israel. Read the Pontifical Biblical (or is it the Theological) Commission’s documents regarding the interpretation of the Bible and our relationship to Judaism/our Jewish brethren. They are our “older brothers” in the Faith of the one God. It is true that they don’t believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. But St. Paul is quite clear that it is from them that God entered into covenant with man (Abraham), that the twelve tribes of Israel (and therefore the Messiah and the Twelve Apostles) came, from them that Tanakh came (Tanakh is the Jewish way of saying what Christians call the “Old Testament” – “T”=Torah (the Law); “N”=Nevi’ ‘im (the Prophets); “K”=Ketuv’ ‘im (the Writings or Wisdom Literature). Jesus Himself said, “I did not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it”. “I have not come into the world to condemn the world but to save it”. There is no “New” Testament WITHOUT an “Old” Testament. From the creation of the world, to the covenant with Abraham, to the Twelve tribes and their history in the Promised Land, to the Davidic kingdom, to the prophets, everything in the NT is presupposed as known and understood and then interpreted in the light of Christ. You are absolutizing ONE verse and then interpreting it in a way that takes it out of context and condemns people for not seeing something that would have cut against the grain of 2,000 years of God’s dealings with them. If we had been in their shoes we would have done the same thing. In fact, we do the say thing, on a daily basis. We know that hatred, and lying, and lust, and envy, and anger, and greed, and vanity, and selfishness and pride, and laziness are all wrong and yet we leave the things undone which we know we should do and do the things we know we shouldn’t do. That is no different than rejecting His Lordship and salvation. We are ALL the same – sinners. We shouldn’t be condemning other people, but in humility commiserating with them and loving each other in spite of our weaknesses with the hope that we will grow through and beyond them. Please, please stop with the animosity and condemnation.

          • cpsho

            The Lord Jesus did not tell his disciples to go and have unity meetings with every religion on earth. Rather he told them:
            “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
            (Matthew 28)
            Anyone who does not fulfill the Great Commission is not a saint. Anyone who waters-down the command of the Lord Jesus for the sake of worldly popularity is not a saint.
            By the way why the hurry to canonize him? So John Paul 2 is benefiting from the liberalization of the canonization procedures which he engineered himself. What is this?
            Post-humous sycophancy and pandering?
            I ask again what is happening in the RCC?

            God bless.

          • quisutDeusmpc

            Again, context. These “unity meetings” as you call them, are a result of a thousand years of “wars and rumors of wars” based on religious reasons. Muslim against Catholic, Catholic against Muslim; Orthodox against Catholic, Catholic against Orthodox; Both Catholic and Protestant against the Jews; Catholic against Protestant, Protestant against Catholic. It is satanic. Pope John Paul II witnessed it up close and personal in Poland.

            Look where Poland is located geographically. It is RIGHT AT the fault line between west and east. In northern Europe it is here, in Poland, that Russian Orthodox and Catholic meet. In southern Europe, Greek Orthodox meets the Catholic west at Austro-Hungary/Croatia-Serbia. It was in Warsaw that the Nazis attempted to coral and begin the extermination of the Jews (remember the Warsaw ghetto?). Extermination camps were built by the Nazis in Poland (Krakow was the diocese over which he was bishop following the second world War).

            It astounds me that you can’t see that he was right smack dab in the middle of the Nazi (a secular atheistic regime) invasion and occupation of Poland, and then upon their defeat in World War II, the resurgent atheistic communist invasion and occupation of Poland (this had happened before in the 19th century by the Russian empire) without father, mother, sister or brother. He was struck by a Nazi transport truck and left for dead in a ditch. He was forced to work in a Russian labor camp. Did he become bitter and filled with hatred? No, he turned to prayer and became a priest. He tried to help his Jewish friends escape. He tried to help the young Poles of his generation avoid the hatred and animosity and bitterness and frustration by taking them on clandestine hikes into the countryside away from it all and meditate on God, family, culture, love. Others picked up guns, he picked up a rosary and prayed.

            To evangelize the people of his generation to love God, love family, love their enemies. To resist non-violently in the face of intergenerational and violent injustice and persecution. To strive for peace through spiritual opposition. To strive for peace with the religions of the inhabitants of the countries that were involved in persecuting your homeland and your countrymen: Nazi Germany (atheism and Lutheranism); Russia (atheism and Russian Orthodox). None of this seems heroic to you? I don’t know why but your criticism souund like insensitive sniping and traitorous backbiting to me.

            Here’s a man who gave up everything for the Church. In the Polish culture of his time it is said he had a promising career as an actor in Polish society. He gave up the study of acting and literature for the priesthood. As a result, the family that he lost in his childhood and adolescence was not to be had with a wife and children of his own, but the Church was to become his family. He spent his life in service to the Church as a priest. And not just any priest. He was one of the youngest bishops/archbishops in Poland. Not only that he personally participated in the event of the Church in the 20th century – the Second Vatican Council. He was the primary drafter of significant sections of the document “Gaudium et Spes” – On the Church in the Modern World and played a significant part in the drafting of other documents as well. It is not well known, but when Pope Paul VI was reconsidering the issue of contraception in the Church, it was to Bishop Karol Wotylja (the future Pope John Paul II) that he turned, among others, in consultation. Bishop Wotylja had written a significant theological paper on the issue and, it is said, he played an instrumental part in the drafting of the document “Humanae Vitae” that upheld the traditional teaching of the Church in 1968. He was THE most significant liaison between the burgeoning “Solidarity” movement in Poland by the Gdansk dock workers and Lech Walesa. When President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher sensed weakness in the USSR and Premier Gorbachev was entering into negotiations, it was Pope John Paul II that was the leading figure through Vatican diplomatic channels in letting them know the strength of the “Solidarity” movement and whose pontifical visits to Poland bolstered the spiritual morale of the people to press on in there fight to maintain the catholic Faith, and to resist their communist subjugators.

            He published phenomenal encyclicals on Jesus Christ (Redemptor Hominis), God the Father (Dives in Misericordia) and the Holy Spirit (Dominum et Vivificantem), on the Blessed Mother (Redemptoris Mater), the missionary nature of the Church (Redemptoris Missio) and by far wrote the most and influential encyclicals on the social doctrine of the Church (Laborem Exercens, Solicitudo Rei Socialis, & Centessimus Annus). He moved the discussion of morality from a casuistic and juridical understanding to God’s answer to man’s deepest needs as a human being – a loving, relational model (Veritatis Splendor), addressed the relationship of faith and reason in the light of modern philosophical challenges to the faith (Fides et Ratio) and addressed the profound nature of human dignity (Evangelium Vitae) as well as give an impetus to inter-religious dialogue and ecumenism (Ut Unum Sint). His apostolic exhortations ranged from catechesis (Catechesi Tradendae), to the family (Familiaris Consortio & the Letter to Families), religious life (Redemptionis Donum), to penance (Reconciliatio et Paenitentia), the laity (Christifidelis Laici), to priestly formation (Pastores Dabo Vobis) and the episcopacy (Pastores Gregis). In between he wrote exhortations to the Churches all over the world (Ecclesia in America, in Asia, in Africa, in Europe, in Oceania), letters on the sacraments (Domenicae Cenae), on human suffering (Salvifici Dolores); AND revised the outdated 1917 Code of Canon Law in 1983.

            He started up the World Youth Days to invigorate and empower the youth of the world (Dilecti Amici), addressed the dignity and vocation of women (Mulieris Dignitatem), organized and celebrated the Jubilee of the third milennium (Tertio Millenio Adveniente, Novo Millenio Ineunte), OH YEAH, and promulgated and oversaw the production and completion of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

            No, I guess you’re right, this guy is a real lightweight (I say sardonically). After all, he only did all of this after having survived an assassination attempt; forgiving and pardoning his assassin (who the most reliable evidence says was contracted by the Russians through an agent from Belarus); developing Parkinson’s disease; visiting more countries than any other Pope in history to promote the Faith; and, in light of the promulgation by the First Vatican Council of the doctrine of papal infallibility, balanced that stress by organizing and convening more episcopal collegial synods and ad limina visits than Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, and Pope John Paul I combined. No, no, I guess you’re right. What a world class lightweight.

            I mean, come on, guy….really? NOT fulfill the great commission – more papal visits promoting the faith to more countries than any Pope in history; promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church; stressed catechesis in his encyclical Catechesi et Tradendae; addressed the Churches in nearly all of the countries of the world (Ecclesia in America, Asia, Africa, Oceania, Europa), addressed injustice in his social encyclicals, instrumental in the fall of communism in Poland; evangelized the youth of the world by starting and holding more World Youth Days than Pope Benedict and Pope Francis combined. I cannot tell you how uninformed and out of touch you sound.

            Why the slavish, tenacious hold to rules on canonization that probably originated in the Middle Ages. After all feudalism is dead, so are most of the monarchies of the world, representative democracy won the day, we have experienced mercantilism, the Industrial Revolution, the October revolution, national socialism, Marxist Leninism, the atomic age, the space age, quantum physics, the mapping of the human genome. Why the slavish need to hold onto rules that were probably long overdue for an overhaul. If you aren’t moving ahead, you’re only getting left behind. Its not sycophancy. its the realization that this was a great man, an unusual man, a man who comes along perhaps once in a lifetime, if not once in a half millenium or more (who was the last Pope that the people considered “the Great” – was it Gregory or Leo?). Stop waffling between fundamentalist traditionalism (SSPX / sede vacantism) and the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. The last thing God needs is someone who thinks they are “more Catholic than the Pope”.

          • cpsho

            if John Paul 2 fulfilled the Great Commission, how come the attendances at Mass nose-dived under his papacy? How come the abuse of children by clergy became the norm, rather than the exception, under his papacy? How come half of the Roman Curia became populated by homosexuals (i.e those who are sexually active, even on Church premises) under his papacy? How come despite his kissing of the Koran, Muslims regularly invade Catholic Churches to slaughter innocent Christians, even till today as I type?
            “By their fruits you shall know them”. All this man did was to work for earthly popularity; ‘he has received his reward’.
            If the Hierarchy in Rome insists on canonizing a man who has done so much damage to the Body of Christ, let it be known that Rome will go down the way Jerusalem did in 70 AD.
            The Lord God has spoken; within a generation. We shall be living witnesses.

          • quisutDeusmpc

            A number of things to think about:

            i. Prior to the Second Vatican Council the “Sunday obligation”, one of the six moral precepts of the Church, was considered obligatory by the laity. After the social revolution of the 1960’s and a false narrative that was bandied about after the council by the media, the idea became widespread that Sunday attendance was optional. In addition, the change from the Latin mass to the mass in the vernacular was a HUGE change for most (on top of that, parish liturgical ministers began experimenting with popular music instead of the classical music/Gregorian chant and many unusual experiments took place at the popular level – “liturgical dancing”, “clown masses”, etc. NONE of which was mandated or called for either by the council or the bishops. The Mass got dumbed down and abuse crept in and people didn’t recognize it anymore and stopped coming. Others stopped coming out of dissent and protest against the traditional teaching of the Church on divorce, contraception and abortion. Many people don’t remember that the reason why there was a kind of Catholic ghetto in most major cities and parishes was because of the Protestant hegemony over culture and access to positions in society and Catholics banded together. Consider the difference between 1928 and 1960: when Al Smith, a Catholic governor from NY ran for president he was vilified and demonized in the press as a “puppet of Rome” and was soundly defeated. Just 32 years later John F. Kennedy soundly defeated the WASP candidate and Catholics believed they had finally arrived with regards to American culture. More opportunities meant less reliance on the Catholic ghetto mentality: ONLY frequenting businesses owned and run by other Catholics to support each other, the focus on faith and family became a focus on individual self promotion and getting ahead. Finally, the ancient understanding of the laity was recovered: prior to the Council, there was an understanding that had settled in that by virtue of their sacramental configuration as priests there was kind of a “hierarchy” of holiness: simply by virtue of being a priest or religious one was “more holy” than a mere lay person (you could be the drinkingest, smokingest, swearingest, most worldly priest in the world, you were still getting to heaven before consecrated religious and lay people because you had received the reconfiguration to Christ from the sacrament of holy orders. The Second Vatican Council recovered the understanding that clericalism was bogus theology. You could be just as holy as a layperson (by being faithful to your responsibilites as a person, son, father, mother, student, colleague, parishioner) as a religious person could be to their vocation, as a priest could be to their vocation. And, by contrast, you could be much close to hell as a priest or religious IF you were living your vows and practicing the virtues and fulfilling one’s obligations commensurate with that state in life. Many priests and religious began to say to themselves: If I’ve got just as much chance to make it into heaven as a lay person; why bother with all of the sacrifice that goes along with this station in life; besides the opportunities that were not formerly available are now open to Catholics so why shouldn’t I get mine, too. That’s when you began to see vocations fall off and Catholics become just as worldly as their Protestant and secular brethren.

            With regards to the priestly sexual abuse crisis, if you actually bother to read the history over time of those vile predators and the revelations that began to become clear over time, you would see that the cases became noticeable back in the 1930’s – 1950’s (but largely kept from public view: I don’t know how old you are, but you may remember the “spy ring” that was unearthed from the UK Anglican male boarding schools in the 1920’s to 1940’s , the Cambridge Five: Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Donald McLean, Anthony Blunt. All were homosexuals/gay men, in the intelligence field, recruited by the Soviet Union to spy. My point here is that there was a general revulsion and stigma that applied to sexual orientation that existed that began to assert itself in high profile visible ways but on a limited basis, that wasn’t open in society in the 19th century that began to show its face in the early 20th century. The same happened in the Church. Cases of sexual predation began to surface in the 1930-1950’s (remember the Jazz Age, the gilded Age, rock’n’roll). It picked up steam in the 1960’s, and 1970’s (hippies, free love, drugs) and peaked in the 1980’s & 1990’s (disco, cocaine, crack, various cities known as “hot spots” for aberrant sexual behavior: San Francisco, DC, NY, LA). My point is that this isn’t something that is SPECIFIC to the pontificate of John Paul II. It tracked with a general change in morality that began with the Jazz Age, swing, picked up steam with the sensation of rock ‘n’ roll, the sexual revolution in the 1960’s, the student protest movement, free love, disco, cocaine, crack, the change in the 1970’s by the American Psychological Association that “homosexuality” was no longer to be considered a psychological disorder, the general public’s growing acceptance and destigmatization with broadway shows like “La Cage Aux Folles”, etc. You certainly can’t lay a general tide of social change in the U. S. at John Paul II’s door JUST BECAUSE he is elected to the papacy in 1979. That’s ridiculous. I am not suggesting that these cases aren’t despicable or that the episcopal management of the fallout wasn’t reprehensible, just that this is a general trend of the relaxation of societal norms that had been in place for hundreds of years. It was a scandal to get a divorce (you couldn’t get a CIVIL divorce without proving adultery or physical abuse), it was a civil crime to commit adultery, women who took birth control were called “whores”. Suddenly it’s all right to snort cocaine in Studio 54 and be a “bisexual”. All of this is societal, not brought on by some “policy” of JP II.

            I really think you have this mechanistic understanding of life. I don’t know about you, but when I was an adolescent if my parents told me to go study, I went and put my headphones on and listened to Black Sabbath and was smoking cigarettes secretly down the block out of their view when I took the opportunity. Is MY behavior to be laid at THEIR feet? If they are TELLING me to do the right thing, and I am rebelling against it, how can THEY be held responsible? The 1960’s and the 1970’s were a time of widespread decadence not only amongst the rich and privileged but widely among the white collar and blue collar workers as well.

            Personally, I have no idea what percentage of the presbytery or episcopacy are “gay” (that is taking some getting used to saying, but I am determined to follow Pope Francis’s lead in this). But how can someone’s personal predilections and sins be laid at another person’s feet. Can I stop you from sinning? Can you stop me? Are you responsible for my behavior? It just sounds overly simplistic to me.

          • cpsho

            ” And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomor′rah than for that town.” (cf Matthew 10)

          • quisutDeusmpc

            God bless you, cpsho. I will pray for you. I hope you will pray for me. I take it that is A way to end a conversation. Apparently, as far as you are concerned, this conversation is over and I have a worse fate than Sodom and Gomorrah awaiting me. I pray that I will see you one day in heaven. Thank you for the conversation.

  • Benedict

    Fr. McCloskey, I’m not as confident as you about Francis’s firm support of all Church moral teaching. For example, he seems to make a distinction between same-sex marriage and same-sex civil unions. (He did so when Archbishop of Argentina, and he seems to continue to do so now.) This is, in reality, a distinction without a difference, and the fact that he makes it raises serious questions about his view of sodomy and whether he supports the traditional Catholic teaching that it is one of the sins that cries to heaven for vengeance. Secondly, Pope Francis doesn’t need to change fundamental church doctrine if he is willing to allow unfaithful bishops, priests, and laity to undermine that doctrine through bad pastoral practice that is unfaithful both to the Church’s binding Tradition and to the very words of the Lord. The signs are very worrying. We can only pray, and pray we must.

    • quisutDeusmpc

      The world is not people with saints, but sinners. There are 8 billion people on the planet and only 1 billion Catholics and among those there are varying degrees or levels of commitment to living out and holding to the Faith. There is no way that the Church’s teaching is going to change. It won’t happen. However, having said that, I believe the Holy Father is engaged in ‘realpolitik’. He is realistic. If you keep pushing these moral issues to the front you are going to continue to please some and estrange others. Look it, Jesus ATE with tax collectors and sinners, NOT the intelligentsia, the powerful, or the litteratti. My grandmother used to say, You catch more flies with honey, than you do with salt. He is not saying those issues are unimportant, merely that, if we are going to be an “evangelistic” Church, and we ARE going to be an evangelistic Church, you don’t lead with hot button issues. You are only going to divide, not gather, that way. You LEAD with the core message: the ‘kerygma’. It’s not that the Church’s moral teachings are a weakness, but you lead with your strength – the Gospel message. Jesus Christ is true God in human flesh and He came into the world to unite humanity to the divinity of the Logos – to divinize us (God became man, that man may become God). God is concerned with our flourishing, with our well being, with our salvation. You don’t lead with condemnation to draw people in. When you are meeting someone whom you are interested in, do you try to make a good impression or do you intentionally risk putting them off by “laying it all out there”. The Church’s (the mystical Body of Christ) mission is to lead people to a saving relationship with God the Father (Life/Being) through our Lord Jesus Christ (Truth) in the Holy Spirit (Love). Once they see that God has their best interests in mind and they are in Love with Him, THEN they will NATURALLY want to live a life commensurate with the dignity of the children of God.

      • Benedict

        1. Faithful Catholics are not pro-actively leading with the Church’s moral teaching. On the contrary, we are in a defensive posture against the secular world’s attack on those teachings, and against unfaithful Catholics’ willingness to cooperate with these attacks and betray their Church and its Head, Our Blessed Lord. 2. You’re reading the Gospel selectively. Jesus alienated the majority of people he came into contact with, because he valued truth–He Who Himself was and is Truth–over suicidal public-relations games people like you, quisutDeusmpc, are engaging in today. Too many clerics and, yes, even this Pope, are playing this dangerous game. Jesus gave us a model. We should follow it. Public relations be damned.

        • quisutDeusmpc

          The world religion comes from the Lating ‘religare’. It means, literally, ‘to bind back to’. In other words to “unite”. The people whom you claim are “attacking” are our future brothers and sisters in Christ. It is important you get out of a defensive posture and accept people on their own terms, right where they are at. THAT is what Jesus did: with Mary Magdalene (the broken reed I will not break, the smoking flax I will not quench); with the woman at the well; with the Roman centurion; with the lame man at the pool at Bethsaida; with the little children. You are conveniently seeing one side of the picture. It is never an “either/or” proposition; for us Catholics it is always “both/and”. I specifically send, numerous times, that it is NOT that truth is unimportant, but that it is penultimate. LOVE is ultimate (This is how they will know that you are my disciples, when you have LOVE for one another). Love is a matter of self-sacrificial giving (Herein is love, not that WE loved HIm, but that He loved us and laid down His life). He endured the cross, despising the shame, He did not answer back to the cat-callers and back biters, but became “all things to all men that He might save some”. We have GOT to be as “harmless as sheep” but as “wise as serpents”. We have to outsmart the world at its own game. There is a great saying from a Buddhist Bushido master, Miyamoto Musashi: If you only know yourself, but do not know your enemy; you know or have only mastered half of the battle. If you know BOTH yourself and your enemy, the victory is won before you even take the battlefield. We certainly have to know the arguments for the Catholic positions, AND those against it. So well in fact that we are able to counter every objection with its obvious answer. BUT if we go in ONLY seeking to WIN an argument, and NOT SAVE a soul; then we have lost before we begun. You can have ALL the right answers, but if your animosity and venom, and defensiveness, and insistence on being “right” are so glaringly obvious, no matter how “right” you are, you will lose that person’s heart. You have to be in it FOR them, not to alienate, not to be “right”, but because you love them. Your attitude that “Jesus alienated the majority of people he came into contact with” may be so, but it was NEVER his intention to do so and He certainly reserved His most poignant comments for the “self righteous”, but with the intention of shaking them out of their complacency, not to intentionally alienate them. Your posture is hostile and aggressive, and I think it comes from a defensive inferiority. When you KNOW you have the goods, why the need to feel defensive. If we are IN the right, then we are ” always [be] ready to give an answer for the HOPE that is in us, but with GENTLENESS and REVERENCE” I Peter 3:15b, 16. I would suggest reading Mark Brumley’s book, “How NOT to Share Your Faith”, sir; or Patrick Madrid’s “Search and Rescue: How to Bring Your Family and Friends Into or Back into the Catholic Church. The 21st century west is NOT 1st century AD Jerusalem. When was the last time you saw a group of men following an itinerant rabbi around because they thought He had the “truth” about the meaning of life, one’s relationship with God or one’s fellow man? Different times call for different methods. JP II said the NEW evangelization must be NEW in ardor, methods, and expression. You can’t use something from the 1950’s in 2014. The “one size fits all” mentality went out with the cold war. EVERYONE has different needs, wounds, interests. Some people will be attracted by truth, certainly. Some will be attracted by beauty. Others will be attracted by goodness. Some grew up in domineering households where “dear ole dad” always had to be right and “truth” will only remind them of their experience with authoritarian totalitarianism. Others didn’t grow up in a family with any father at all and are looking for the goodness that comes from a compassionate mentor and friend. Others live with the ugliness of decadence and moral corruption that oppresses them like Lot in Sodom and need the release of entering into the beauty of poetry and art and music to free them from the oppression of oppressive decadence. You HAVE to meet people where they are at and understand why THEY believe what they do and then merely presenting them with a logical, rational, well reasoned argument may not be what gets the job done. In our increasingly alienated society where we live on line instead of the face to face meeting in friendship, merely being a lonely person’s friend may be ALL that is needed to change their opinion of “Catholics” as domineering, petty arguers, to compassionate friends. It is not “public relations”. It is evangelization.

          • Benedict

            Evangelization requires a radical decision on the part of the one who is evangelized. It requires conversion. Although we must work for the salvation of all, Christ the Lord made it abundantly clear that most will be damned (“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few”). Augustine and Aquinas both maintained this position as well. Denial of this position has no grounding in Divine Revelation and would only be wishful thinking. People cannot be saved by being encouraged to read their Korans, as Pope Francis encouraged a group of Muslims in Rome to do, or to read nothing while just being a good person. And proselytism (when it is direct, charitable evangelization) is not “solemn nonsense.” Who are you with? Christ and His Holy Catholic Church? Or the peddlers of the novelties of the day who are at every level of the Church?

          • quisutDeusmpc

            I couldn’t agree more wholeheartedly – conversion does require a radical decision and commitment. However, most conversions are not Pauline/bolt of lightning immediate about face types. Most are the slow, painful turn that takes an entire lifetime to work out. Also, when was the last time someone approached you in a hostile, confrontational manner and challenged you, where your response was, Thank you very much for that, I will get right on that. No, our natural reaction when confronted, particularly with a paradigm shift, is to confirm ourselves in our current position and defend/rationalize our thinking/behavior. It is usually someone who has bothered to cultivate a sustained, proven relationship with us, whom we have grown to trust, admire, respect, who drops a good natured, joking/not so joking hint that acts on our conscience and we say, You know, you’re right, that was stupid. They can get away with it because they have built up relationship capital with us. They are invested in our lives and we know it. We know they didn’t mean it in a merely destructive criticism way, but out of love and respect spoke or acted in such a way that it convicted us, I am acting inconsistent with the better angels of our nature.

            The second thing I would say is that “All ‘truth’ is God’s Truth”. In other words, to the extent that anything is true, is because it participates in Truth, the Logos, Jesus Christ. Some people come to the faith from atheism and science because they see the order in the universe from the mathematical formulas that undergird the order that is in the universe. No amount of Bible thumping or theological discourse would have led them home, but because they were internally open to merely empirical “truth”, it eventually led them to the ultimate Truth. Some people are bohemian / artsy-fartsy types who wouldn’t darken the door of a Church to save their lives, but because of their love for ‘beauty’, it can lead them to see that “Beauty” is what creates desire in us, and ultimately that desire, being infinite in nature, only truly corresponds to the infinite Beauty of God. I see nothing wrong with asking someone to be the best Buddhist, Muslim, atheist they can be, because ultimately, they will bump up against the limitations of that religion or philosophical position. That will create existential angst and they will, again assuming they are open to following the truth/beauty/goodness wherever it leads, go looking for the answers that their limited religion/philosophy no longer provides. That is when they are finally prepared to received the full flowering of their existential search for meaning.

            Look, if a Mormon came to you and confronted you and said, your religion is inadequate, mine has the answers to life. Is your reaction, Why thank you. I am totally open to throwing off my life’s investment in Catholicism just because you claim that yours is better. I have never seen it work. Unless someone already is preveniently looking for answers, I have never seen someone apologetically argued into the faith. Apologetics is great for defending one’s own faith, but rarely does it work as an evangelistic strategy. What I have seen work, time and again, is the effect that honest, genuine, wholehearted merciful compassion and honest interest in someone else for the sake of their merely being someone else. And when their heart is open and THEY ask why you are doing this for them, THAT is when the answer, I am giving myself to you because SOMEONE gave His life for me, becomes winsome.

            Finally a word about accurately defining terms. Pope Francis is in his 70’s, and although Italian ethnically, was born and raised in South America. Words can be quite slippery things. Take the word ‘liberal’. It’s Latin root is “liber” which means book, message. It’s original meaning meant “generosity”. To be liberal was to be large minded, generous, magnanimous, large souled. A good thing, that. In France, in the late 18th century, “laicite” or secularism set in and when the monarchy had been overthrown and a new government was set up, in the parliamentary room where the various factions convened the “conservatives” (which meant monarchists and Catholics) sat on the “right” and the “liberals” (the radical revolutionaries who wanted representative government and no Church / state concordat) sat on the left. Suddenly “liberal” meant, not generosity, but revolutionary / secular atheist / leftist (merely because of which side of the room they sat).

            The same thing goes for the words “proselytism” and “evangelization”. Catholics used to HATE the word evangelical BECAUSE it was the moniker that the Protestants preferred to refer to themselves during the Reformation. “Protestants” was a term of opprobrium, a pejorative that Catholics labeled them with. They preferred to self identify as “evangelicals”, implying that they were preaching the true “gospel” (the word evangelical comes from the Greek “euangelion” which was translated into English as “Gospel”) and Catholics were preaching a “false gospel”. So when Catholics referred to “evangelization” they instead used the word “proselytism” in the good sense of preaching the good news/Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, during the wars of religion in the 17th/18th century when Catholics and Protestants were vying for “converts” different methods were used – sometimes force or coercion, sometimes generosity (e. g. a school might be set up to educate children where, imagine that, Catholic religion classes were also taught to “convert” the children while they received an education; or a hospital might be set up to care for the sick where, imagine that, ONLY Catholic chaplains were available to confer with patients). Eventually these methods of priming someone with a carrot to lead (schools, hospitals, disaster aid) them into the fold (entice them to convert) became seen as underhanded and disingenuous and the word “proselytism”, which originally meant preaching the Gospel, became tainted with the connotation of trying to trick someone into the faith (which is why in the 19th century you would see people refusing “charity” because they weren’t “charity cases”; so down and out that they needed the handout; because people felt that because you had done them a good deed, they were in your “debt” and then that might be leveraged against them to get them to do something they wouldn’t otherwise want to do).

            I am very certain that when Pope Francis claimed that we shouldn’t be engaged in “proselytism” he is NOT saying we shouldn’t be engaged in “evangelization” (notice that Catholics are beginning to use this word again, the very word that Catholics of the 16th and 17th century abhorred because it was associated with Protestants). He is using the word the way that the majority of the world understands it today: offering people food, education, medical care, vocational training with the hope that because it came from or through the Church, you would return the favor by eventually committing to the Church. This issue is complicated by the fact that when you look the word up in the dictionary, “proselytism” is generally defined as converting from one religion to another, and what could be wrong with that, right? But, I am very certain that Pope Francis is using the term in the way that it became understood during the 18th/19th/early 20th centuries, which was to offer various forms of aid to entice people into the faith. It has the negative connotation of tricking people or coercing them. Remember that the Church, until after the Second Vatican Council saw things institutionally. So, let’s say a government is hit by some natural disaster. The local bishop might say to the local governor, we will give you food, blankets, water, aid in exchange for the opportunity to build three schools in such and such provinces – knowing that CCD classes would be given to students and many would convert. If the children convert, what kind of effect does that have on the parents, right? Maybe get the whole family. So, what I am saying is, I am pretty convinced that Pope Francis is not talking about one on one friendship evangelization when he says, “no proselytism”. He is talking to bishops about using institutional methods of parlaying with local secular leaders in ways where hospitals, and schools, and social welfare agencies become avenues of winning converts. I believe he is saying that we as individual Catholics need to win the hearts and minds of our families, our friends, our colleagues through the witness of winsome personal lives.

      • @FMShyanguya

        litteratti rhymes with illuminati …
        the real work behind the scenes perhaps?

        • quisutDeusmpc

          Maybe in 18th century America when a rather large number of the “founding Fathers” were themselves Masons / “illuminati” (rationalists along the line of the French “Enlightenment”/Revolution). When was the last time a Congressman, Senator, or President self identified as a “Mason”. No, the new “merit badges” are the Ivy League schools, being in one of those school’s elite organizations – Skull and Crossbones or something of that nature; being connected with wealthy, influential people (Soros, Koch, the like).

          • @FMShyanguya

            All of them secret societies with a master conductor from hell.

          • quisutDeusmpc

            Well, I am no conspiracy theorist. The rich and powerful will always look after their own special interest. That is not innocuous and insidious, just selfish and narcissistic. You’re kind of freaking me out. The next thing you are going to start talking about is the Bilderbergers and the Trilateral Commission.

          • @FMShyanguya

            The mystery of iniquity. cf. 2 Th 2:7. The Explanatory Notes in the Navarre Bible, NT, Compact Edition has: Evil will operate secretly till the final unmasking. This to me is the ‘coming out’ in our day. This visible part is the homosexuals making the announcements, the invisible, the evils spirits, demons, are increasingly on the loose from hell.
            Remember scripture uses immorality/fornication interchangeably with idolatry. And the jews will tell you that there isn’t a harmless idol as in an inanimate object, there is always an evil spirit associated. The worse the pervion, the fiercer the demon.
            No need to freak out. If Catholic, a good confession (with a good priest – if it is touching the papacy, you may need to search more diligently) after making a thorough examination, prayer (Our Father a good one), reception of the Eucharist, and a tender devotion to Our Lady and Mother (rosary, scapular, etc.). Holy water @ home, etc.
            It is the time. We have a prelude in Sodom and Gomorrah and the deluge.

          • quisutDeusmpc

            Well, thanks for sharing. I will keep all of that in mind. I try to find a balance between “fides et ratio” (faith and reason). Too much faith and not enough reason can be ignorant fundamentalism. Too much reason and not enough faith is borderline rationalism. Balance, temperance, staying spiritually and culturally engaged is important, too. As I said, I’m not inclined to conspiracy theories. The “netherworld” will always be engaged in spiritual warfare with the Church until the end of time. I try not to get bogged down in this or that contemporary manifestation but keep on keeping on. Trying to find Christ in all things in the ordinary circumstances of my daily life. Prayer, meditation on the sacred Scriptures, Eucharistic adoration, daily examen, pray the Rosary.

          • @FMShyanguya

            Good exchange. Thank you quisutDeusmpc!

          • @FMShyanguya

            cf. Ps 2 kings on earth and princes (fallen angels) plotting against the LORD and his Anointed.

  • JStab

    “In fact, the secular media is hoping against hope that somehow Francis
    wants to or is capable of changing infallibly proclaimed Church teaching
    in this (topic of sexuality) area. Sadly, much of the misinformation . . . ” I think the misinformation begins with thinking that any teaching in the church on sexuality has been proclaimed infallibly. Disappointed that someone with an S.T.D. would state that and then follow it up with a statement such as, “No, the pope will not and cannot change fundamental church doctrine, no
    matter how eager the secular media are to record the revolution.” Since it is a pope (together with the Bishops, of course) who proclaims infallible doctrine, the professor is clearly contradicting himself. Of course the pope can change church doctrine. He (the office) creates it in the first place.

    • Jim

      He can’t change it, because Christ established it.

  • joxxer

    Yes, we know that the Holy Spirit protects his office from going contrary to Faith and morals–and we also know the Holy Spirit has his job cut out for him— when the Pope lauds a Cardinal’s two hour discourse abut communion for divorced and remarried “catholics”–which goes against church teaching. We can always hope he learns to follow the church and its teaching, but he needs to control misunderstood outbursts during “interviews”. Are those REALLY necessary?

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