Tuesday, August 6, 2013

More from the Pope's in-flight papal news conference

Dr. Robert Moynihan of Inside the Vatican has provided his own translation of Pope Francis' now almost legendary in-flight press conference, which he gave on Sunday, 28 July, during the his flight from Rio back to Rome. You can read all of Moynihan's translation here. I say the press conference is "almost" legendary because, as legends tend to be, what the Holy Father said has been both distorted and exaggerated.

Due to the fact that I have already posted extensively on what the Holy Father had to say during his interaction with the international press, especially concerning homosexuality and the plight of divorced and remarried Catholics as regards the sacraments, I don't want to rehash anything. I do want to note that, again, there is nothing new in a pope addressing these issues and nothing substantially different in what Pope Francis said about them. The difference, which matters, is stylistic. Pope Francis tends to speak more candidly (some insist more carelessly) than his predecessors.

There is one interaction, the fifth of the presser, with Brazilian reporter Patricia Zorzan that merits passing along. Zorzan asked: Speaking on behalf of Brazilians. The society has changed, young people have changed, and we see many young people in Brazil. You have spoken to us about abortion, matrimony between persons of the same gender. In Brazil a law has been approved which extends the right of abortion and has allowed matrimony between persons of the same gender. Why didn’t you speak about this?

Pope Francis responded: "The Church has already expressed herself perfectly on this. It wasn’t necessary to go back to this, nor did I speak about fraud or lies or other things, on which the Church has a clear doctrine."

Zorzan pressed him: But it’s an issue that interests young people…

Pope Francis persisted: "Yes, but it wasn’t necessary to talk about that, but about positive things that open the way to youngsters, isn’t that so? Moreover, young people know perfectly well what the position of the Church is."

Apparently still not satisfied, Zorzan asked, What is the position of Your Holiness, can you tell us?

In his wonderfully simple and direct way, the Holy Father said, "That of the Church. I’m a child of the Church."

I think it is important to note that this exchange took place well before Vecchi's question about the divorced and remarried and Scamparini's question about the "gay" lobby in the Vatican and the situation of Msgr. Ricca, the embattled personal prelate Francis appointed to look after things at the Institute for Religious Works, also known as the IOR, or Vatican Bank. This certainly helps both of those answers to make more sense and gives them some needed context (needed because of the many pretexts).

Since Zorzan was effectively asking the Pope Francis why he did not take the opportunity to denounce the Brazilian laws permitting people of the same gender to "marry" and a liberal abortion law, signed by Brazil's president last Friday, it is also worth noting that Francis assiduously refuses to play politics, that is, he resists the temptation to make of faith an ideology. Increasingly, it seems to me that what matters in our post-secular world is living our faith fully, giving joyful witness, and asking only for the freedom to do that with full integrity.

Last weekend, in his recurring article for Saturday's Daily Telegraph, Damian Thompson, writing about the Amish in the U.S., particularly the fact that they retain an astounding 85% of their young people in the faith, made an observation that has given me a lot of pause these past few days: "The Amish show that you can spend most of your time living the Gospel rather than thinking about it. (An example: when a gunman killed six Amish girls in 2006, their parents shocked the media by promptly forgiving him.) Perhaps there’s a hint of this in Pope Francis’s sermons, which focus on deeds rather than doctrine. At any rate, it’s a pleasing thought that the visitors gawping at the beardies in their buggies may, to some extent, be looking at the future of Christianity." This strikes as something well worth thinking about on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

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