I know that some readers (faithful Catholics especially) will not like what I’m reporting here. They’ll insist that this pope is doing a good thing; he’s reaching out to and impacting secularists, agnostics, atheists, progressives, liberals, and even communists. He is indeed doing just that. I appreciate it. In the spirit of Saint Francis, he’s bringing the Gospel to the unconverted in a rapidly secularizing world. I understand. I get it.
In fact, there’s no question that Pope Francis is doing some really good things. His leadership on Syria was superb, and genuinely produced much fruit. He’s preaching forgiveness, mercy, humility, redemption, helping the poor, the Gospel. He is unquestionably pro-life and has made some solid pro-life moves. He even excommunicated a dissident liberal priest who supported gay marriage and female ordination. I’m on his side. We’re on the same team.
But, in all due respect and deference, this man needs to be extremely careful about what he’s saying and how he’s saying it, because every imprecise statement is ripe for severe misinterpretation, exploitation, and abuse by enthusiasts and activists on the left.
His statement on abortion, contraception, and gay marriage was utterly butchered and completely misrepresented, most notably by the predictably awful but extremely influential New York Times. Other troubling statements, however, have not been misrepresented at all. A recent one, highlighted at The American Spectator by George Neumayr, was this remark, made to a prominent Italian atheist interviewer: “Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good.” Interrupted by the amazed interviewer, Francis doubled down: “And I repeat it here. Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.”
That statement is a jaw-dropper.