What Pope Francis REALLY Said
So, how about that interview that was published yesterday you guys? Pretty awesome stuff, right? For those of you who haven’t read it yet, you can find the full text of the interview here. I highly recommend that y’all sit down with some popcorn and read that entire interview, because there has been a LOT of crazy stuff circulating since it was published…and it has only been 24 hours. Mind blowing.
It amazes me how much people have chosen little excerpts from this interview and taken them completely out of context in order to arrive at a false conclusion–but a conclusion, nevertheless, that fits a specific agenda. The hot button issue, the thing that has made many provocative headlines for several news networks, has been the section where Pope Francis discussed this idea that the Church ought to stop focusing so much on issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Many people, following this wonderful line of logic wherein they refuse to look at context, have taken this to mean that Pope Francis somehow disagrees with the Church’s teachings or that he is somehow being excessively liberal in saying these things. One article even went so far to ask (in all seriousness, although obviously with a pun intended): Is the Pope Catholic?!
Let’s look at this issue in particular, since this (oddly enough) is what everyone wants to talk about.
In context, what Pope Francis has said is profound but, sadly enough for those who would like to believe otherwise, completely and utterly in line with Church teaching. Sorry to burst everyone’s bubble. Pope Francis is NOT saying that these issues are not important or even that they don’t ever need to be addressed. What he IS saying is that we have placed too much focus on the issues at hand and have failed to look at the person, the individual who is affected.
You see, you can’t do Theology in a vacuum. It doesn’t work that way. It’s one thing to sit around in a room and come up with some profound theological thinking on a topic and quite another to try to teach that and apply that to the lives of everyday Catholics and everyday people in general. In this interview, Pope Francis challenges us to look at the person and to love that person. We first have to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. We have to tell them about the love and mercy of God, about the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, about the love of the Church and about her mission and her support. THEN, he says, “it is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.”
The problem is that we’ve made these issues all about rules. We say homosexual acts are sinful, we say that abortion is evil…but we haven’t said WHY these statements are true. WHY should I not abort my child? WHY should I not be in this relationship? WHY??? That WHY is what we have been profoundly lacking. You don’t follow the Church’s moral teachings because you are obliged to or because you don’t want a slap on the hand if you don’t. You follow the Church’s moral teachings because you believe them to be true. You believe them to be true because you believe the heart of the Church’s message. The heart of the Church’s message is Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ is LOVE. So, by following these teachings, you are responding to love. THAT is what we have to show people. THAT is Pope Francis’ point. Not that we should be afraid to speak out against injustice, not that we should shy away from speaking about moral issues, but that we must start with the heart of the teaching: Jesus. We must first love them and preach the Gospel to them. The consequences of that message, as Pope Francis says, will follow naturally.
There is one quote in particular from this section that I think could greatly inform discussion if people would pay attention to it. Here is what Pope Francis says:
“The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus.”
This “radical” suggestion that people are saying Pope Francis has come up with? Be like Jesus. Yup. That’s radical…just not in the way people think it is.
Pope Francis is telling us to take our cue from the Lord. If you guys have read the story from Luke’s Gospel about the disciples walking along the road to Emmaus, then you get the point. These two men are walking along right after all of the events of Good Friday. They’re completely confused because Jesus, the one they thought would be the savior of Israel, was crucified. And now, to top it all off, a few women had come earlier that morning to say that He was alive. So they walk along, talking about these things. Suddenly, Jesus appears and walks beside them, but they do not recognize Him. He asks them what they are talking about, listens to their concerns, and then proceeds to teach them. He opens the Scriptures to them and explains why things happened the way they did, why it was necessary that He should die. And their hearts burn within them.
We don’t need to beat people over the head with the Catechism until they can’t function properly. We need to set their hearts on fire with love by telling them about the One who IS Love. That love will motivate them and inspire them. After they know about this Love, after they have encountered the Risen Jesus through us, then it is possible to start dialogue about these issues. Because by then, the conversation is based in Love, not back and forth banter. “…The moral consequences then flow.”
Posted on September 20, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged interview Pope Francis, Pope Francis, Pope Francis article, Pope Francis church teachings, Pope Francis irrelevant, Pope Francis moral teachings, Pope interview, what Pope Francis really said. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.