Green Room

Confirmed: Media analysis of Pope Francis as accurate as you’d expect

posted at 2:31 pm on August 5, 2013 by

I began to see this almost as soon as Pope Francis made his debut on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica in March.  Thanks in part to an almost total lack of attention to Cardinal Bergoglio before his election as pontiff, media analysts rushed to create a narrative of sweeping change in the Catholic Church and a repudiation of the perceived conservatism of Pope Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI. That was especially true this past week, when Pope Francis shocked the media by stating what the Catholic Church has taught all along about celibacy and sexual orientation.  A recent analysis by the Washington Post crafts that narrative concisely:

“Something unexpected and extraordinary is happening in the Catholic Church. Pope Francis is rescuing the faith from those who hunker down in gilded cathedrals and wield doctrine like a sword. The edifice of fortress Catholicism – in which progressive Catholics, gay Catholics, Catholic women and others who love the church but often feel marginalized by the hierarchy – is starting to crumble.”

Pat Archibold at the National Catholic Register agrees — or so you might think. He offers readers 10 quotes that prove that Pope Francis is a liberal:

Now, as much as many of us traditional minded churchgoers have tried to spin it as in continuity with Pope Benedict, I think it is time we face facts. The press is right. The Pope is a liberal and I have the quotes to prove it!

The Pope is soft on Islam.

“It is true that the Muslim world is not totally mistaken when it reproaches the West of Christian tradition of moral decadence and the manipulation of human life.”

Encourages Homosexuality.

“It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the church’s pastors wherever it occurs.”

He is focused on the poor:

“Many people today lack hope. They are perplexed by the questions that present themselves ever more urgently in a confusing world, and they are often uncertain which way to turn for answers. They see poverty and injustice and they long to find solutions. ”

“Yet if we refuse to share what we have with the hungry and the poor, we make of our possessions a false god. How many voices in our materialist society tell us that happiness is to be found by acquiring as many possessions and luxuries as we can! But this is to make possessions into a false god. Instead of bringing life, they bring death.”

And so on.  However, make sure you read all the way through to the end for a little surprise, especially for those who have mostly followed the media narrative on Francis.

Pope Francis has been a breath of fresh air and a change of style from his previous two predecessors. That mainly comes from Francis’ emphasis on a pastoral approach and his spontaneity.  He clearly delights in engaging people on a personal level, and eschews the trappings of his position more clearly as well. However, on substance, Francis has not wavered from the doctrine of the Catholic Church or even in its practices.  The difference is that people are giving him more of an opportunity to be heard.

Recently in the Green Room:

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

In some ways he is even more traditional than Benedict and John Paul.

celtic warrior on August 5, 2013 at 3:13 PM

They heard he is Argentinean and automatically assumed “Brown Pope!”, and thus the narrative of a leftist pope was born. The racism of the leftest media strikes again.

NotCoach on August 5, 2013 at 3:19 PM

As a “recovering Catholic” who only recently became seriously reengaged in the Church because of Francis, I can tell you that approach and tone matter quite a bit. I know that Francis isn’t going to change Church doctrine. All the pieces on “Who am I to judge?” noted that Francis wasn’t going to start staging gay marriages at St. Peter’s. However, tone does matter and I think that Francis’ emphasis on mercy is important because the latter part of the Church’s teaching on gays isn’t understood, even by Catholics themselves. Alan Keyes disowned his daughter for coming out and he thinks that he is a “good Catholic” for doing so. Both lay Catholics and Catholic priests (especially priests in the Global South) feel okay with over the top rhetoric. Now every time a prominent Catholic says something ridiculous about gay people, those five words are going to come back.

Moreover, Francis and Benedict have completely different visions for the Church. Benedict was really fixated on insider baseball stuff like getting rid of the post-Vatican II liturgy and approving clunky new missal translations. Francis actually thinks the main reason why the Church has lost its influence is because of such internal fighting.

Illinidiva on August 5, 2013 at 3:21 PM

They heard he is Argentinean and automatically assumed “Brown Pope!”, and thus the narrative of a leftist pope was born. The racism of the leftest media strikes again.

NotCoach on August 5, 2013 at 3:19 PM

Bergoglio is part of the Church’s more moderate wing. He sort of reminds me of Cardinal Bernadin.

Illinidiva on August 5, 2013 at 3:26 PM

Illinidiva on August 5, 2013 at 3:21 PM

Nothing the Pope said about homosexuality violated what is in the three paragraphs in the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the topic.

The meeting place for those of good will is well outlined there.

unclesmrgol on August 5, 2013 at 8:36 PM

There’s a pretty wide gulf between “Encouraging Homosexuality” and discouraging “violent malice in speech or in action”.

Media, You So Crazy

JimLennon on August 5, 2013 at 8:41 PM

Nothing is quite as insular or parochial in America as a WaPo or New York Times analysis of Catholicism or the Vatican.

Reading these former Catholics, you’d think the global church and its operating vicars in Rome are even aware of, much less concerned with, what some atheist liberals whose grandmothers still attend St. Anne’s on 23rd Sreet think about Catholicism.

HitNRun on August 5, 2013 at 9:38 PM

A Brown Pope since he is from Argentina??? That just shows the ignorance of the press. The
people of Argentina are not “brown” people! All Spanish-speakers are not “brown” people. The people of Argentina are of European descent: Spanish, Italians, etc. The Pope is an example of this . . . his family is from Italy. There are almost no indigenious people in Argentina.

francesca on August 5, 2013 at 10:55 PM

Nothing the Pope said about homosexuality violated what is in the three paragraphs in the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the topic.

The meeting place for those of good will is well outlined there.

unclesmrgol on August 5, 2013 at 8:36 PM

Yes.. And it is shocking that many Catholics (like I pointed out Alan Keyes) are willing to emphasize the sin and leave out the compassion.

Illinidiva on August 5, 2013 at 11:49 PM

When it comes to doctrine, Francis is as traditional as they come. He is a more outgoing man than Benedict was (and I love Benedict) but he isn’t going to go all Episcopal on us. Benedict was more reserved, Francis is an outgoing Latin.

Ellen on August 6, 2013 at 5:49 AM

As a “recovering Catholic”…

Illinidiva on August 5, 2013 at 3:21 PM

What is this “recovering Catholic” horsecrap?

Religion is NOT a disease.

If you support the tenets of the faith, attend services.

If another denomination better fits your worldview, convert.

If you stop believing altogether, don’t go.

Sheesh. How freakin’ difficult was that??

Maddie on August 6, 2013 at 9:59 AM

The difference between Francis and his predecessors is

1. His lifestyle – he seems to place particular emphasis on simple living and ministering to the people, and that leads to

2. His emphasis on anti-corruption. He seems fairly determined to try to clean up and clean out the Curia.

He does not differ from them in matters of doctrine. At least part of the reason the press is unable to understand this is, as NotCoach mentions, a racist assumption that “all good brown people” should be leftists. There is also a huge degree of ignorance in the press as to what Catholic doctrine says. The press is ignorant about nearly everything, of course, but they are especially uninterested in religious doctrine.

There is also another reason leftists are desperately trying to claim him for their own. I think, based on what we’ve seen so far, that he has the potential to be a great Pope.

Doomberg on August 6, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Yes.. And it is shocking that many Catholics (like I pointed out Alan Keyes) are willing to emphasize the sin and leave out the compassion.

Illinidiva on August 5, 2013 at 11:49 PM

Sorry that Alan Keyes can’t be as compassionate about his child as, say, Alice Walker.

Oh, wait.

Maddie on August 6, 2013 at 10:22 AM

Bergoglio is part of the Church’s more moderate wing. He sort of reminds me of Cardinal Bernadin.

Illinidiva on August 5, 2013 at 3:26 PM

I, admittedly, know very little about the Pope. My comment though was not about the Pope, it was about the media. I am familiar enough with Catholic doctrine and can see, when informed of the facts, that Pope Francis is not trying to turn Catholic doctrine on its head. My comment was about the media trying to impose their own illogical biases onto the Pope. And that bias always places race above all else. Pope Francis is immediately more acceptable in the minds of know-nothing journalists because of his birthplace. After all, that Pope Benedict was a lousy, Nazi kraut. At least in the eyes of journalists that is.

NotCoach on August 6, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Yes.. And it is shocking that many Catholics (like I pointed out Alan Keyes) are willing to emphasize the sin and leave out the compassion.

Illinidiva on August 5, 2013 at 11:49 PM

Alan Keyes is more like a fire and brimstone protestant.

Lightswitch on August 6, 2013 at 10:37 AM

This reminds me of a line from a Jack Lemmon movie. He played a Catholic priest who said (paraphrased from memory)

I don’t care what he (referring to another priest) is celibate from as long as he keeps his oath of celibacy

The whole point is that a person must refrain from illicit sex and as long as heesh does so, the particular sex from which heesh refrains is immaterial.

sabbahillel on August 6, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Francis actually thinks the main reason why the Church has lost its influence is because of such internal fighting.

Illinidiva on August 5, 2013 at 3:21 PM

As a Protestant, I usually steer clear of discussions regarding the Catholic Church or the Pope or anything remotely resembling matters of Catholic doctrine, but I strongly doubt the Catholic Church has lost influence because of internal squabbling. The reason any churches loses influence–if by ‘influence’ one means spiritual authority–is because it refuses to take a stand on moral issues that matter.

My own Protestant denomination, the Disciples of Christ, has become liberalized to the point of becoming almost Episcopalian in its outlook and–as a result–serves up a pretty weak tea that quenches no thirst and saves no souls. I quit going and started looking elsewhere.

Right now in the Middle East, Africa, and communist China, Christian believers are putting their lives on the line, enduring torture, imprisonment, and death for their faith. Meanwhile in the United States, self-professed Catholic politicians such as Nancy Pelosi and Anthony Cuomo promote late-term abortions that are clearly infanticide and do so without consequence, and ‘liberal’ Protestant denominations equivocate on the divinity of Christ and embrace practices and beliefs completely counter to the teachings of the Apostles and of Christ Himself.

Credit where it’s due, at least the more fundamentalist fire and brimstone denominations, however questionable and seemingly extreme some of their traditions, stay truer to the core message of the Gospels than any of their more respectable sister churches. You might laugh at that snake-charming tent preacher in Appalachia, jumping around and speaking in tongues, but he’s closer to Christ than most you’ll find out there.

troyriser_gopftw on August 6, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Moreover, Francis and Benedict have completely different visions for the Church. Benedict was really fixated on insider baseball stuff like getting rid of the post-Vatican II liturgy and approving clunky new missal translations. Francis actually thinks the main reason why the Church has lost its influence is because of such internal fighting.

Illinidiva on August 5, 2013 at 3:21 PM

A few points:

1) It’s not just “insider baseball” concerns – how one worships determines what one believes (and how one acts) – lex credendi, lex orandi. And the liturgy of the Church was wrecked pretty badly in the years after the Council (well beyond anything contemplated at the time by the Council Fathers). The typical suburban parish liturgy had degenerated into a maudlin therapeutic performance with music so mediocre even low church Protestants had contempt for it.

2) At any rate, the Missal of Paul Vi is still in force. There have been no significant changes to the Missal, only a new translation, and a new sensibility in how it is celebrated here and there. Summorum Pontificum liberated the Traditional Latin Mass to celebrated freely again, admittedly; but while it has expanded considerably, it still only reaches no more than 2-3% of American or European Catholics. Many bishops continue to resist it.

3) The new MR3 translation may seem clunky in English grammatical structure, and it’s not perfect, to be sure; but what it is is vastly more accurate in translating the Latin original than the old 1973 ICEL translation (which often opted for gloss and paraphrase, avoiding difficult concepts, and unpleasant things like sin and judgment).

Pontificates often opt for course corrections. John Paul II’s pontificate was about evangelization, the defeat of communism, and holding the Church together amid very deep theological fissures. Benedict decided that more effort was needed to put the Church’s internal house in order, finally (cracking down on sex abuse, reforming the liturgy at the margins, more attention to making good episcopal and curial appointments, seminary and religious order reform). Francis believes the time is right to focus once again more on evangelical outreach. Time will tell whether he’s right. His greatest impact may be felt outside the developed world.

What influence the Church has lost has mostly to do with ongoing secularization in society at large – and, regrettably, secularization of many within. The fact that Obama – the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history – could draw nearly half of Catholics speaks volumes. The fact that so many Catholics shrugged at the naked attempt by the administration to force Catholic institutions to perform actions that are in direct opposition to Church doctrine says even more.

The_Jacobite on August 6, 2013 at 11:25 AM

I, admittedly, know very little about the Pope. My comment though was not about the Pope, it was about the media. I am familiar enough with Catholic doctrine and can see, when informed of the facts, that Pope Francis is not trying to turn Catholic doctrine on its head. My comment was about the media trying to impose their own illogical biases onto the Pope. And that bias always places race above all else. Pope Francis is immediately more acceptable in the minds of know-nothing journalists because of his birthplace. After all, that Pope Benedict was a lousy, Nazi kraut. At least in the eyes of journalists that is.

No all of the prelates are Catholic. Bernadin was strongly pro-life and at the end of his life (he died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 68), he sent an amicus brief to the Supreme Court on an assisted suicide case. However, conservative Catholics viewed him suspiciously because he reached out to groups such as gay and lesbians (Bernadin started a ministry in the arcdiocese of Chicago that reached out specifically to gay and lesbians during the height of the AIDS crisis). Bernadin was also more into the social justice/ “liberal” part of Catholic teachings. He coined the “seamless garment.” Similarly “liberal” Catholics would include Oscar Romero, Dorothy Day, John XXIII, and Pedro Arrupe (Bergoglio’s former Jesuit superior). All are doctrinally Catholic, but viewed suspiciously by more conservative Catholics.

Bergoglio is on the more moderate side of things. I think that he wants to model his papacy after John XXIII (who was elected at 76 as well.) Francis is definitely in line with the Church on social issues; he isn’t going to be officiating over gay weddings and mentions abortion in colorful Bergoglio metaphors. However, Francis also doesn’t want to talk about sexual morality; he prefers to talk about poverty. This is a shift from both JPII and Benedict. There is also some “inside baseball” stuff that only interests Catholics about Vatican II that is a shift. And also personality matters a lot. Bergoglio is a gregarious and eccentric outsider who enjoys talking and enjoys his job. He’d be a very good American politician. This is different from Benedict who during public appearances seemed to want to be doing something more enjoyable such as getting a root canal. And from the last ten or so years of JPII, who was ill for quite awhile. So it has been almost twenty years since the press has had someone so gregarious and active to follow.

Illinidiva on August 6, 2013 at 1:29 PM

It’s not just “insider baseball” concerns – how one worships determines what one believes (and how one acts) – lex credendi, lex orandi.

I don’t subscribe to this.

2) At any rate, the Missal of Paul Vi is still in force. There have been no significant changes to the Missal, only a new translation, and a new sensibility in how it is celebrated here and there. Summorum Pontificum liberated the Traditional Latin Mass to celebrated freely again, admittedly; but while it has expanded considerably, it still only reaches no more than 2-3% of American or European Catholics. Many bishops continue to resist it.

I think that Benedict wanted to go back to a pre-Vatican II type of Mass or combine the pre and post Vatican II liturgy. He allowed prelates like Burke, who were against Vatican II, to gain power. (One nice thing about Bergoglio’s pontificate is that there won’t be any more BurkeClones foisted on American dioceses.)

The new MR3 translation may seem clunky in English grammatical structure, and it’s not perfect, to be sure; but what it is is vastly more accurate in translating the Latin original than the old 1973 ICEL translation (which often opted for gloss and paraphrase, avoiding difficult concepts, and unpleasant things like sin and judgment

The new Mass translation is like if Dante’s Inferno had been translated into English without preserving its poetry and imagery. Or perhaps translating Shakespeare into Spanish without preserving the iambic pentameter.

Illinidiva on August 6, 2013 at 1:36 PM