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Monday, September 30, 2013

Reflections on the Pope's Interview


Reflections on the Pope’s Interview

 
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There has been quite a firestorm following the interview Pope Francis gave last week.  Initially, the mainstream media, intentionally or not, misrepresented the comments of the pope, suggesting that he was urging Catholics to stop focusing on issues like abortion, homosexual “marriage” and contraception.  Most Catholics by now should have recognized the truth, that the pope is not moving the Church away from her teachings on these issues, especially since the day after the interview Pope Francis made his strongest comments against abortion since his election.

Still, some Catholics have been concerned about the tone the holy father has set and the direction they think he may be taking the Church.  Now it’s true that there is no charism guaranteeing the pope will say everything perfectly eloquently or that every decision he makes will be the best.  However, this is a holy and learned man, who happens to be our chief shepherd, so I do think it’s important that we reflect on what the pope did say.

The issue, I think, is context.  Pope John Paul II coined the phrase “The Culture of Death.”  It was imperative that the Church respond forcefully, consistently and often to the great evils of the day.  It still is.  But perhaps Pope Francis is concerned that the culture has begun defining the terms of our message.

The pope is clearly concerned about the right to life and has spoken as archbishop against homosexual “marriage.”  He made it clear in his interview that he has no intention of moving the Church away from her teachings on these issues.

However, he spoke of the primary necessity of showing the Person of Jesus Christ to the world.  This, he said, is the essential of evangelization.  He called to mind the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and how their encounter with Christ caused their hearts to burn within them.  In this age of the New Evangelization, when many people think Christianity is merely noise that can be dismissed, though the consistent witness against the evils of our time is essential (the pope is not calling on any of us to slow our pro-life work), it is easily ignored.

An encounter with Jesus Christ, however, can not be ignored.  I believe the pope is calling on all of us to remember that our witness begins and ends with Him.  We can not witness to the issues of life and marriage apart from that context.  And the Church needs to offer the world her Lord.  Then hearts will be opened to all else besides.

This is my take on the pope’s interview.  Agree with it or not, I would pray that we all listen to Pope Francis as a father, and at least take his message to prayer, so that we can be truly effective sons and daughters of the Church, and servants of our Lord.