Article

FINALLY: A POPE WHO “GETS” IT

Just another guy on the subway.

BY DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 25. 2013) — Finally, a pope who “gets” it. “Gets” what? He gets that it isn’t 1958 any longer and that “good” Catholics don’t expect or want the prelates to tell them what to do or to do their thinking for them. Finally, Catholics have a pope long on humility and short on the ridiculous, pompous, trappings that have kept previous popes — going back to the beloved John XXIII — looking like anachronisms and sounding like men out of touch with the lives of the ordinary people to whom they minister and for whom they serve.

POPE FRANCIS: How can you not like a guy who smiles this much?

In a few short months, Pope Francis’ openness, his clarity as a communicator, and his self-effacing presence has mitigated much of the disturbing, right-wing, militaristic pounding on marginal side issues such as abortion and gays. Under the previous two popes, especially JPII’s latter third, it seemed as if these two issues were the only ones of import, and it made the Church appear as intolerant if not hostile and abusive. Pope Francis has ripped the door of close-mindedness off its hinges, sending a message in words and actions of love, mercy, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness.

He has preached by example, following the classic advice of his saintly, spiritual namesake.

In honor of the pope, THE PLANET presents these two views:

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(AP) Pope Francis can’t seem to help but get good press recently, what with his humble new car, an endearing and sincere-seeming series of phone calls to random members of the publicpublic messages of tolerance, and the first papal selfie.

All that goodwill seems to have consolidated with his first long interview. The interview was conducted with Rev. Antonio Spadaro, editor in chief of   La Civiltà Cattolica, and translated in full by America Magazine.

It’s certainly a long read, but to give you the gist, many people are picking up on this one passage in particular:

“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. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.”

What a contrast: From the distancing pomp of Benedict, left, to the welcoming simplicity of Francis.

That message is likely to anger more conservative members of the clergy who had hoped that Pope Francis may use the interview to clarify his feelings on divisive issues like abortion, gays and contraception. Instead, he seems to be saying that the church shouldn’t focus on those issues but instead look at the bigger picture of how to make the Catholic Church a more inclusive place.

Here’s another passage that’s sure to upset the more conservative clergy members. While Pope Francis has spoken of acceptance for gay clergy members, this quote seems to suggest he wants a broader acceptance than many first believed:

“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.”

At other points in the interview, Pope Francis seems to acknowledge the potential for a more involved female role in the church, though he doesn’t go into specifics.

After Jorge Mario Bergoglio was selected to become Pope Francis earlier this year, many people commented on what a “genius” investment in the Catholic Church’s future it was — Pope Francis comes from Latin America, the place where 40% of all Catholics currently live, and has largely remained outside of the Vatican’s notoriously resistant-to-change bureaucracy. He has a real opportunity to change the church.

With this new interview, Pope Francis seems to be laying out his vision for the Catholic Church clearly for the first time, and it does seem to be a distinct departure from that of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict. Perhaps this is all part of some big orchestrated PR push — who knows, it certainly could be — but regardless people seem to be really getting excited about this pope.

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VATICAN CITY (AFP) – Pope Francis has urged a break with the Catholic Church’s harsh “obsession” with divorce, gays, contraception and abortion, in an interview signalling a dramatic shift in the Vatican’s tone.
The Argentine pope has brought a series of fresh perspectives to the notoriously rigid Church since his election in March, and his latest remarks on some of its key doctrines sent shock waves around the world.”Revolutionary words”, remarked Italy’s biggest newspaper Corriere della Sera on Friday, while the International Herald Tribune’s front page headline read: “Bluntly, Pope pushes shift in church.”
In the 30-page interview published in Jesuit journals on Thursday, the pope urged “mercy” and understanding for those who often feel most discriminated against by the Church.”We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that,” Francis said.
The pope said that when these issues were discussed, they had to be put in context.”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.
“We have to find a new balance. Otherwise even the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”Francis — who has shown a strong reformist drive in his first few months in office — said the Church needed more than anything to be able to “heal wounds”.On homosexuality he said the Church “does not want to” condemn gays, and that “it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.”
The 76-year-old pope stressed that the Church’s official position had not changed, but said that it should “always keep in mind the individual”.
The interview was published after the pope on Monday called for “another way” of treating divorcees who remarry — a thorny issue since Catholics who wed a second time are currently not allowed to receive Holy Communion at mass.In Thursday’s interview, he also said the Church should be more merciful and welcoming towards women who had undergone abortions.
The confessional “is not a torture chamber,” added the pope, saying priests should be neither too rigid nor too lax in their approach to the sacrament.
The remarks show a marked shift from his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI hardline defence of the Church’s strict doctrines.
“Francis distinguishes between the sin and the sinner. He says that homosexuals are not inferior or different to others, the choice of how to live one’s homosexuality being one of the mysteries of man,” read an editorial by historian Lucetta Scaraffia in the Vatican daily Osservatore Romano.
“His Christianity is not a rigid puritanism without heart,” she wrote in another Italian daily.Marco Politi, biographer of Benedict XVI noted “a break” with the former pope’s way of thinking.”Francis says: Church doctrine is what it is. It is useless to keep repeating the same things. What is important is to enter people’s personal lives.
“Swiss Catholic priest and theologian Hans Kueng wrote in the daily La Repubblica that he hoped the pope would seek concrete reforms, “permitting sacrament for the divorced who have remarried, the abolition of celibacy for priests, and female priesthood.It remains to be seen whether Francis’ views will translate to deeper change however.
Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, on Friday explained that the Church distinguished between homosexuality “which is something negative” and the homosexual person “who has all our affection.”
And while he has called for understanding for the women who undergo abortion, Francis strongly condemned the act in a visit to gynaecologists on Friday.
“Every child not born, but condemned to abortion, possesses the face of the Lord who, before even being born and then after his birth, experienced rejection by the world.
“Francis’ papacy — he is the first Jesuit pope and the first from South America — has marked a series of breaks with Vatican tradition.
The pope has become known for his humility and concern for the poor, and has reached out to non-believers and those in other religions. He regularly picks up the phone to call ordinary people who write to him.
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“God bless us all.”Tiny Tim
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.

16 Responses to “FINALLY: A POPE WHO “GETS” IT”

  1. Silence Dogood
    September 25, 2013 at 8:06 am #

    my guess is that if the church becomes pro abortion the catholic church will split in two…..most folks are ok with same sex marriage, or at least they tolerate it. divorce happens people accept it but abortion….i think that will be the big issue that a lot of catholics just can’t accept.

    • Wilson
      September 25, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

      No need for a schism, there are already dozens of religious flavors that will validate you for doing whatever nasty thing you want.

      “When God looks at a leech, does he endorse the existence of this critter with love, or reject and condemn it?”

  2. Spectator
    September 25, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    It’s a good thing for Catholicism that Latin Americans are becoming such a majority. Without them Catholicism’s extinction would be looming with the passing of the Baby Boomer generation.

  3. Scott
    September 25, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    Dan, how many write in votes did you get?

    • danvalenti
      September 25, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

      SCOTT
      The mayor’s office was not on the prelim ballot.

  4. tito
    September 25, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    Bring your arrow on the Popes picture and let sit for a second,the tally for Dan will appear.

    • Scott
      September 25, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

      Or maybe I could look inside the skunk on Pecks Rd! Is there still a cavity left or is he pretty flat?

    • danvalenti
      September 25, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

      The office of mayor was not on the ballot. How can one have a tally when the office is not even up for grabs? Hmmmm????

  5. Charles Trzcinka
    September 25, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    Keep in mind that the change is one of “tone” and emphasis but not doctrine. Abortion is still a major offense, gays cannot marry, nor can priests (not doctrine but forbidden) and well, sin is not abandoned. The Pope wants us to pay attention to the poor and not be so quick to judge. (My favorite quote is about gays “Who am I to judge?”, jeesh if the Pope can’t judge who the hell am I to do so?).

    What I don’t think the Pope gets, and frankly most Catholics don’t either, is the role of economic development in helping the poor. Since 1993 one billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty.(See http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21578665-nearly-1-billion-people-have-been-taken-out-extreme-poverty-20-years-world-should-aim ). Economic development is well on the way to ending extreme poverty and its not because of “stewardship” or “caring” but because of the power of the market.

    • danvalenti
      September 25, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

      CHARLES
      The power of markets are a form of “stewardship” and “caring.” Thanks for the thoughts.

    • Scott
      September 26, 2013 at 4:00 am #

      Tell me why I can be downtown Boston before a game at Fennway with all the money pumping through that area ($9.00 a beer!) not to mention what the players make and there’s a homeless man begging for money? Whether its his own choices it still isn’t right.

  6. Jonathan Melle
    September 25, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    I believe the Catholic Church is right on peace, poverty, social justice, and helping people.

    I believe the Catholic Church is wrong on masturbation, consensual sex, sex education, abortion, and same sex relationships and marriage.

  7. Scott
    September 26, 2013 at 4:02 am #

    A lot this stuff is old testimate. God sacrificed his only son for our sin and Jesus would’nt hold anything against gays or a woman for getting an abortion. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

  8. JUST SAYING
    September 28, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    Calling the murder of unborn children a ‘marginal’ issue, is quite sad. Shows how far this society has fallen.

  9. levitan
    September 28, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

    I keep a pretty good Pope in my closet, upstairs where I store my suits in mothballs. My wife discovered him there the other day while looking for her party dress and asked what he’s doing there.

    “Why do you keep a Pope in the closet. Are you a Closet-Catholic???”

    “It’s a good Pope, and I like him.”