Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pope Benedict and Francis

In 2006, Pope Benedict in meeting with the Swiss bishops said something very similar to what Francis said in his interview. I don't remember NARAL and similar groups hailing him for this. Could it be that the media have put Francis in a box, just like they put Benedict in a box, and read him only through that lens? But it certainly seems like Francis isn't going to stay in anybody's box.

Here's Benedict:

Let us return, therefore, to the subject of "God". The words of St Ignatius spring to mind: "The Christian is not the result of persuasion, but of power (Epistula ad Romanos 3, 3). We should not allow our faith to be drained by too many discussions of multiple, minor details, but rather, should always keep our eyes in the first place on the greatness of Christianity.
I remember, when I used go to Germany in the 1980s and '90s, that I was asked to give interviews and I always knew the questions in advance. They concerned the ordination of women, contraception, abortion and other such constantly recurring problems.
If we let ourselves be drawn into these discussions, the Church is then identified with certain commandments or prohibitions; we give the impression that we are moralists with a few somewhat antiquated convictions, and not even a hint of the true greatness of the faith appears. I therefore consider it essential always to highlight the greatness of our faith - a commitment from which we must not allow such situations to divert us.
In this perspective I would now like to continue by completing last Tuesday's reflections and to stress once again: what matters above all is to tend one's personal relationship with God, with that God who revealed himself to us in Christ.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pope Francis' Interview

If you've seen news stories about the Pope's interview yesterday, please go to the source and read what he actually said. Some news stories about it are giving a totally misleading spin. For example, in our local paper, the writer put "small-minded rules" in the same sentence with abortion, contraception, and same-sex unions, as if the pope said these things don't matter. Far from it! He said nothing of the sort. Here is the quote about the "small-minded rules," followed by how the church's ministers need to strike the right balance -- in dealing with people -- between a harsh rigorism and a lax attitude. I didn't see any news stories quoting his words that ministers are wrong to simply dismiss real sins as if they don't matter:

“The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all. The confessor, for example, is always in danger of being either too much of a rigorist or too lax. Neither is merciful, because neither of them really takes responsibility for the person. The rigorist washes his hands so that he leaves it to the commandment. The loose minister washes his hands by simply saying, ‘This is not a sin’ or something like that. In pastoral ministry we must accompany people, and we must heal their wounds."