A False Dichotomy
This is the last post I’m planning to write on the interview that was published yesterday, but you never know. There’s just one more thing that I wanted to address, and I didn’t want to write an insanely long post with all of this information in it because, let’s face it, nobody wants to read a super long blog post. I’ve talked about what Pope Francis really said concerning the Church’s moral teachings, the most profound part of the interview itself (in my opinion), and now I want to talk about how the interview has been interpreted thus far.
Just in the past 24 hours, I’ve watched people on different sides develop this dichotomy. It goes something like this.
Option A: Pope Francis has said nothing new and this interview should not be such a big deal for everyone.
Option B: Pope Francis has said something that is completely revolutionary and changes Church teaching.
There are dangers with both of these sides that I think ought to be pointed out and discussed. As in most situations, it’s not “either/or”. It’s “both-and”.
Option A Problems
If we follow Option A, we say that this interview presents nothing new. It’s no big deal! But of course, that isn’t true. The way in which Pope Francis expressed himself during the interview and the way he addressed certain issues was absolutely profound, moving, and refreshing. It was a new approach, something we haven’t heard from the hierarchy before. It WAS new!
Option B Problems
If we take this side, we clearly have an issue. This side argues that Pope Francis’ remarks were so new and so revolutionary that they actually broke with tradition. He actually contradicted Church teaching and practice in his comments and, therefore, he is a radical liberal.
In reality, Pope Francis DID NOT change or even challenge Church teaching. He has not made a new Church (although some people have certainly reacted that way…) and he has not dismissed the Church’s teaching or tradition. He has taken questions that are commonly posed and he has addressed them with a new approach. He has given us a new and surprisingly open take on many issues that are facing the Catholic Church and all people of faith today. We cannot deny that something has happened here! But we also cannot divide the Catholic Church into “before” and “after” Pope Francis. The Church “before” was NOT stuffy and unable to reach people, and the Church “after” will not be fundamentally different. This is the same Catholic Church, the ONE Church, but this IS a new approach. And honestly, in my opinion, it is a beautiful approach based in love and mercy. It is based in a desire to love and understand individuals, an approach that desires to lead all people to know Jesus Christ and the joy and peace that He brings to those who know Him. These ideas themselves are not new. The Church’s goal has always been to love people, to lead them to the love of Jesus, and to help them attain salvation. What is new is the way in which Pope Francis is expressing these values. What is new is that Pope Francis wants to see us focus on the individual rather than on different problems that may arise. He wants us to worry about PEOPLE, not CONCEPTS. This is an area in which the Church has been severely lacking lately. We get so bogged down by technicalities sometimes that we cannot properly minister to the people who desperately need our help and love. That is what Pope Francis is drawing our attention to.
Just like the old mantra that your mom taught you: “It isn’t always what you say–it’s how you say it.” And that’s what we have here, in my opinion. We have the same position expressed in a way which emphasizes values and goals that have existed in the Church for 2,000 years.
Surprise, you guys. The Pope is Catholic.
Posted on September 20, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged dichotomy, is the pope catholic, pope francis interview, pope francis interview interpretation, what did pope francis say. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.