A couple of months ago, I found an article that really bothered me.
So much so, that I couldn’t resist the opportunity to pick it apart. (AKA ‘do something’ in the only way I know how.) It first caught my attention because of the title: “No joke this time: Is the Pope Catholic?”.
If you know me, then you probably know I looked something like this:
If you would like, you can read the full article here: http://www.wnd.com/2013/09/is-pope-francis-even-catholic/
It’s written by a Senior Staff Reporter.
Let me just point something out here. First, he broke a MAJOR rule in this article. He expressed his opinions, all over the place in his article, including in-between the lines. As someone who has studied basic journalism for about 6 years now, and even done some experimental ‘reports’ of my own, I know this a big, HUGE mistake, and certainly one that he should know. (After all, he is a “senior staff reporter”. *cough, cough*)
Secondly, the first step that you do as a reporter or journalist, is gather information, and that information is supposed to be as accurate as possible, to be the most informative, and present at least two ‘sides’ or ‘testimonies’ about the story. Not to mention the fact that you are also supposed to cite sources.
None of these things are done.
Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty details. Please bear with me.
The first sentence has left me completely puzzled. It says,
“‘Is the pope Catholic?’ goes the quip most Catholic faithful thought they would never ask, at least not seriously. But with a series of recent pronouncements and decisions bucking papal tradition, Pope Francis has many Catholics wondering if the Catholic Church will survive his papacy.”
I wonder who this reporter asked, if anyone. Everyone I have ever talked to, Catholic or not, have expressed nothing but positive feelings about Pope Francis. (That even includes Baptists, Protestants, and ATHEISTS that I know…imagine that?!) No one is wondering if the Church will survive his papacy, least of all the practicing Catholics. As Catholics, we believe that the pope is infallible when teaching us about faith and morals. Infallible does not mean perfect. It just means that he is free of error when guiding us. His infallibility does not extend past church teaching. For example, he is not infallible in medical or political matters- only in faith and moral teachings. We know this because we trust that the Holy Spirit will prevent the pope from issuing false teachings, even if the pope wants to. (Before you point out that there have been popes who privately lived evil lives, specifically in the medieval times, the Holy Spirit does not interfere with personal error, unless the pope tries to impose it upon the rest of the Church.)
But anyway, I can assure you, Pope Francis is not about to try and pull a fast one on us.
Now, I know Pope Francis just talked about how, “…it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,” regarding the following topics, but I hope, that since I am trying to clear up misconceptions about Church teaching, he will forgive me. 😉
The article then goes on to say, as the very first topic,
“Is homosexuality a sin? The shock to traditional Catholic thinking began when Pope Francis decided to go to the back of the airplane and give an interview to news reporters on the return home from Brazil on his first international trip as pope. Instead of saying that homosexuality is ‘an intrinsic moral evil,’ as did his predecessor Benedict XVI, Francis responded to a reporter’s question, (with) ‘If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?'”
Just to clear some stuff up here, the Catholic Church pretty much follows the policy of ‘Hate the sin, not the sinner.’ Homosexuality in itself, is not a sin, until it is acted upon. When Benedict XVI said it’s ‘an intrinsic moral evil’… he was talking about the homosexual lifestyle, not the person. God would not make people who are forever doomed to hell just because of their sexual orientation. Instead, it is a burden, or a cross, for that person to deal with. Everyone has a cross to carry, whether it be homosexuality, an illness, or anything else that is difficult to deal with. A homosexual person is called to carry their cross by living a celibate life. It hurts me when I hear that someone feels ‘shunned’ by the Catholic Church simply because we do not agree with them. To tell the truth, the safest place in the world for a homosexual person is to be within the Catholic Church. When Pope Francis responded with the question “Who am I to judge?”, he simply meant that if a homosexual person is living a celibate life for the Lord, then none of us can judge them- even if they stumble. And if that person is not living a celibate life, we still can’t judge them. None of us are perfect, and that’s why Confession is necessary for all human beings.
Then ‘the atheist’ question is addressed. This is what Pope Francis said:
“So, I come to the three questions you put to me in your article of Aug. 7. It seems to me that, in the first two, what is in your heart is to understand the attitude of the Church to those who don’t share faith in Jesus. First of all, you ask me if the God of Christians forgives one who doesn’t believe and doesn’t seek the faith. Premise that – and it’s the fundamental thing – the mercy of God has no limits if one turns to him with a sincere and contrite heart; the question for one who doesn’t believe in God lies in obeying one’s conscience. Sin, also for those who don’t have faith, exists when one goes against one’s conscience. To listen to and obey it means, in fact, to decide in face of what is perceived as good or evil. And on this decision pivots the goodness or malice of our action.”
The very next morning, headlines everywhere were screaming, “POPE FRANCIS SAYS ATHEISTS GO TO HEAVEN TOO!!!” Simply put, Pope Francis was actually saying that atheists- like Christians- are offered the gift of salvation because Jesus died on the cross to save us. But Pope Francis also made it clear that we have to accept that gift of salvation and live a morally good life in order to enter Heaven. Basically, if an atheist lives a good life, but never believes in God until on their deathbed,(thus accepting the gift of salvation at the last moment,) then there is a pretty good chance they are heaven bound, because the Lord, in His mercy, will not turn away someone who repents. I say ‘heaven-bound’ because unless you are a saint, (and let’s face it, very few of us are,) you’ll probably have to make a pit stop in Purgatory first, before you get to Heaven.
The next piece of the article that made me raise my eyebrow, was this:
“Can priests and nuns marry? While Pope Benedict XVI forbade any open dialogue on whether or not priests and nuns should be allowed to marry, Pope Francis, who famously said priestly celibacy could change, may be about to put the subject on the table for serious debate and discussion.”
Actually, Pope Francis did NOT say this could change. Nor did the Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin. Archbishop Parolin simply said that it is a tradition of the Church for priests and nuns to remain celibate, and it’s not Church dogma. (A principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.) This does not mean that the tradition will be changed. Archbishop Parolin was only stating a fact.
When I was younger (around 11 years old,) I asked one of the priests I know why he wasn’t allowed to get married. I never forgot his answer: “By becoming a priest, I gave up the chance of having a wife and kids so I could have the time to focus my attention on people in the Church, like you, without the distractions of providing for a family of my own. You guys are my family.” I loved that explanation, and it made so much sense.
My point in sharing this with you all, is to point out how the sometimes the media really manipulates what Pope Francis says, and blows it out of proportion.
But I also think it is really sad when misinformed people try to interpret what Catholics believe, which is precisely what some people who work within the media do.
It is my hope, that when someone asks you what the Church says about various issues, you will stand up for what the Church believes, and make sure you are properly informed. When you do that, you shine, and people will notice that you are spreading the truth. 🙂