Did Pope Francis really say that?

Putting words in the mouth of our Holy Father can be extremely dangerous to the Church and to her people. We must listen before we speak. Photo: Pope Francis / AP

WASHINGTON, September 20, 2013 — The liberal media, pro-abortion and pro-gay activists are once again off to the races, putting words — or at least meanings — into Pope Francis’ mouth that he never uttered.

It doesn’t matter whether they know that their interpretations of what the pope said are false. Millions of Americans not listening too closely or reading past the first paragraphs of a story will get the impression that the pope is telling the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics to “get over” abortion and same-sex marriage and stop obsessing about it.


SEE RELATED: Why are media ‘startled’ by Pope’s remarks on homosexuality?


Nothing is further from the truth, but then that is not the propagandist’s strong suit.

An interview that Pope Francis did in Rome in August came out in English on Thursday. Headlines are blaring distortions of the pontiff’s remarks from that interview. “The New York Times headline trumpeted, “Pope Says Church Is ‘Obsessed’ with Gays, Abortion, and Birth Control.” MSNBC declared, “Progressives Hail Pope Francis’ Position on Social Issues.” NARAL Pro-Choice America went so far as to post a graphic from pro-choice women saying, “Dear Pope Francis, Thank you.”

Like those who accuse Christians of proof texting — that is, cherry-picking certain scripture out of context with the whole gospel to make a point — these writers and stories ignored the context of Pope Francis’ interview. The interview was conducted in Italian, allowing for even greater monkey business in English press interpretations.

The implication from American media is that Pope Francis is rebuking Catholics for obsessing on the social issues of abortion and homosexuality.


SEE RELATED: Pope Francis changing the Catholic Church, beginning with gay clergy


Rob Gasper, editor of “ALL News at the staunchly Catholic pro-life organization American Life League, summed up the context quite succinctly in an e-mail: “Pope Francis could just as easily have said we as a Church should not emphasize caring for the poor prior to the preaching of the gospel of salvation, and in very fact HE HAS said that.”

Gasper continues, “Obviously, the primary mission of the Church is to preach the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. And flowing from that entire gospel of life are the moral precepts we preach and defend.”

Gasper hits the nail on the head. The text of the actual interview makes the press’s cherry-picking obvious. Acting contrary to God’s law is sin in Catholic teaching, not because we say so, but because He does.

Pope Francis began the interview by answering the question, “Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?” The pope replied, “I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.”

If the pope starts with “I am a sinner,” what does that suggest for the behavior of the rest of us?

He went on to say, “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?’”

Pope Francis explained, “There is nothing more solid, deep, and sure than this proclamation [of salvation]. Then you have to do catechesis [religious instruction]. Then you can draw even a moral consequence.”

In essence, Francis said that the spiritual foundation of the gospel must be in place for legitimate discussion of the moral consequences of grave sin.

There is no softening of Church teaching on homosexuality, abortion, adultery, murder, or any other offense to God. The pontiff is reminding all Christians, and Catholics in particular, not to separate these moral teachings — they flow from the full gospel and salvation of Christ.

On September 20, Catholic News Service reported that, in speaking to Catholic gynecologists, the pope said, “In all its phases and at every age, human life is always sacred and always of quality. And not as a matter of faith, but of reason and science! … Every unborn child, though unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of the Lord, who even before his birth, and then as soon as he was born, experienced the rejection of the world.”

Not quite the celebrity endorsement by the pope of abortion or homosexual behavior that the media and activists wish to portray.


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Paul E. Rondeau

Paul E. Rondeau's research and writing on social issures has appeared in law journals, private publications, and  the popular press.  His work has been cited at the U.S. Supreme Court, United Nations and by best-selling authors.  He serves as executive director at American Life League.  He can be contacted at prondeau@all.org.

 

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