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Five Myths About Pope Francis
First Things ^ | July 22, 2013 | William Doino Jr.

Posted on 07/22/2013 3:03:30 PM PDT by NYer

Papa Francisco

He has been called an “improv pope,” a pope of many surprises, but the biggest surprise of all is that Francis continues to elude all efforts to classify him. Since the opening days of his papacy, a flood of commentators have come forth to tell us what to expect of him, only to miss the mark. Among the numerous errors about Francis, five in particular stand out.

1. “Francis is the anti-Benedict.”

Because Pope Francis is from Latin America, and Pope Emeritus Benedict from Germany—and because Francis is a natural extrovert and Benedict more reserved—some people thought that these stylistic differences signaled a difference in their whole way of thinking. But anyone who ever believed that was not being attentive. (A similar mistake occurred when the rotund and smiling John XXIII succeeded the more regal and austere-looking Pius XII, even though the two were very close). Among Francis’s first words to the world, after succeeding Benedict on March 13th, was to pray for his predecessor, after which he immediately called him on the phone. Just ten days later, Francis traveled to Castel Gandolfo to greet Benedict in a very public and powerful way; and upon Benedict’s return to Vatican City in May, there was a similar and well-publicized embrace. Francis recently told one of his students how sublime a thinker he believes Benedict is, and how much he relies upon his predecessor’s counsel: “It would be foolish to turn down Benedict’s advice.”

William Doino Jr.

If there was any lingering doubt about Francis’s fulsome support for Benedict, it’s been erased by Lumen Fidei. This extraordinary teaching document was begun (but never completed) by Benedict in the last stages of his papacy. Francis could have easily put it aside, and written his own papal message. Instead, he decided to finish the projected work, and publish it as his own inaugural encyclical—giving Benedict full credit for the draft. By doing so, Francis endorsed all of Lumen Fidei’s insights about faith and reason, the importance of truth, and the hermeneutic of continuity—all hallmarks of Benedict’s papacy. Francis is actually doing more to consolidate and elevate Benedict’s legacy than the latter’s admirers could have imagined.

2. “Francis is Not a Cultural Warrior.”

Following the first error flows a second: unlike the supposedly hard-edged Benedict, we have been told, Francis has a much softer touch. He avoids confrontation and strident denunciations, and wants no part of any culture war; nowhere is that clearer than in his treatment of the hot-button social issues. Religious reporter Allesandro Speciale recently wrote that Francis “has been less eager to engage in the culture wars over abortion or gay marriage cherished by his predecessors.” Sandro Magister added: “It cannot be an accident that after 120 days of pontificate Pope Francis has not yet spoken the words abortion, euthanasia, homosexual marriage.”

It’s hard to imagine more misleading statements than these. In addition to being an outspoken defender of the unborn and traditional marriage as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis, since becoming Pope, has not yielded one inch on Christian moral truth. Less than two weeks into his papacy, Francis explicitly promised to continue Benedict’s fight against thedictatorship of relativism. In May, Pope Francis not only exhorted tens of thousands at a rally to protect human life “from the moment of conception,” but personally joined Rome’s March for life himself. More recently, he sent a special pro-life message to Ireland, during the midst of pending legislation on abortion, exhorting the country to defend “even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn…” Everyone, proclaimed Francis, “must care for life, cherish life . . . from the beginning to the end.” Is that language not clear enough?

As for gay marriage, after France legalized it, against the vigorous protests of the Church, the new pope rebuked legislators for following “fashions and ideas of the moment,” and subsequently taught in Lumen Fidei: “The first setting in which faith enlightens the human city is the family. I think first and foremost of the stable union of man and woman in marriage”—prompting the Advocate to complain, “Pope Francis, Benedict Jointly Condemn Same-Sex Marriage.”

3. “Francis is a ‘Social Justice’ Pope.”

When people say, as they often do, that Pope Francis is a “social justice pope,” what they invariably mean is that he cares about the poor above all else, and will focus his papacy on solving poverty. This is at once obvious and incomplete. Of course Francis, like his predecessors, cares about the poor, a fact demonstrated in his first pastoral visit to Lampedusa, where he spoke eloquently for abandoned migrants. But Francis is not exclusively concerned about poverty, for he knows, as Blessed John Paul II taught, that the quest for social justice is “false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right, and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.” He also knows, as Benedict taught, that the Church’s teachings on the economy are inextricably linked to its teachings on the family and human sexuality, so Humanae Vitae needs to be upheld with equal force.

More importantly, the Pope believes that individual conversion must precede societal improvement, and therefore rejects secular progressivism, which detaches spirituality from social justice. Francis’s teaching calls for an interior change of heart, and examination of conscience, as the key to social reform. He is thus not so much a “social justice” Pope as he is the world’s foremost retreat master— reminding people that unless we transform our souls, true social justice will never be attained, for that can only come about through humility, sacrifice and spiritual discipline—never by mere governmental decree.

4. “Francis Will Be More Charitable Toward Dissenters.”

No sooner was Francis elected than did dissenters start elevating him at the expense of his two predecessors, suggesting he would finally fulfill Vatican II’s promise. But Pope Francis does not see Vatican II as a charter for dissent any more than did Blessed John Paul II or Benedict. Francis has firmly said that to know Jesus is to be in full communion with the Church and Magisterium; one cannot be a faithful Catholic and practice an independent, free-floating spirituality. Consequently, one of the first things Pope Francis did from the Chair of St. Peter was re-affirm Benedict’s critique of dissent and disobedience within the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. And in Lumen Fidei, Francis drives the meaning of orthodoxy home, declaring that it is not a matter of picking and choosing what doctrines Catholics like, but accepting them all:

“Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity. Precisely because all the articles of faith are interconnected, to deny one of them, even of those that seem least important, is tantamount to distorting the whole. Each period of history can find this or that point of faith easier or harder to accept: hence the need for vigilance in ensuring that the deposit of faith is passed on in its entirety.”

5. “Francis Loves the World.”

This is the greatest misconception of all. Francis, we are told, has an ease with the world that so many other religious leaders, fearful of modernity, lack. But this is not because Francis loves the world per se. Francis loves people, and wants to lead souls to Christ—and that is why he speaks so often about the devil, and warns against worldly temptation, urging us to flee it. He loves God’s creation, but knows how damaging original sin is, and how easily free will can be abused. To confuse the Pope’s kindness and friendliness with love for this world is to misunderstand the whole nature of his pontificate: Francis, far better than most, knows that the world is sunk in sin, and is passionately trying to heal it through the new evangelization.

The one thing many people do get right about Pope Francis is when they say he resembles John XXIII—though even there the comparison often goes astray, especially when political terminology is introduced. Blessed John was never a “liberal” in the modern sense of that term; he was a champion of orthodox reform, as is Francis. And if Pope Francis, supported by the faithful, and properly understood, is blessed to succeed in the reform he now so desires, the suffering Church, and even more troubled world, will benefit from his courage, strength, and faith.


TOPICS: Catholic; Ministry/Outreach; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics
KEYWORDS:
William Doino Jr. is a contributor to Inside the Vatican magazine, among many other publications, and writes often about religion, history and politics. He contributed an extensive bibliography of works on Pius XII to The Pius War: Responses to the Critics of Pius XII.
1 posted on 07/22/2013 3:03:30 PM PDT by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; SumProVita; ...
He has been called an “improv pope,” a pope of many surprises, but the biggest surprise of all is that Francis continues to elude all efforts to classify him


Pope Francis greets the crowd of faithful from his popemobile in downtown Rio de Janeiro, July 22, 2013. Pope Francis touched down in Rio de Janeiro on Monday, starting his first foreign trip as pontiff and a weeklong series of events expected to attract more than a million people to a gathering of young faithful in Brazil, home to the world's largest Roman Catholic population. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

Did anyone watch the arrival of Pope Francis in Rio, today? After a lengthy flight, he stepped into a small, silver, common car - rolled down the windows - got stuck in traffic - and eventually made his way to the above "popemobile" for a tour through the neighborhood. HUGE crowds of people grabbed his arm through the windows of both vehicles prompting Vatican security guards to intervene. What a security nightmare! Now he is riding around in an open jeep with a plexiglass cover to protect him from the elements.

The pope of the people, ping!

2 posted on 07/22/2013 3:07:49 PM PDT by NYer ( "Run from places of sin as from the plague."--St John Climacus)
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To: NYer

WOW stuff in traffic

Very SO CAL


3 posted on 07/22/2013 3:20:49 PM PDT by SevenofNine (We are Freepers, all your media bases belong to us ,resistance is futile)
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To: SevenofNine
?

?

4 posted on 07/22/2013 3:33:10 PM PDT by steve86 (Acerbic by Nature, not Nurture™)
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To: steve86; SevenofNine

I think she’s saying the traffic in Rio reminded her of the traffic in Southern California, where she lives. The communication style is an art form, but one intuits it.


5 posted on 07/22/2013 4:34:03 PM PDT by Tax-chick ("Thomas will explain everything.")
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To: Tax-chick

Probably an autocomplete on stuff = stuck


6 posted on 07/22/2013 4:39:12 PM PDT by steve86 (Acerbic by Nature, not Nurture™)
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To: steve86

*shrug*

I’m technologically clueless, myself.


7 posted on 07/22/2013 4:41:44 PM PDT by Tax-chick ("Thomas will explain everything.")
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To: Tax-chick

I don’t have any device that provides that — ahem — “service” — but I know that inadvertent and undetected autocompletes have provided some hilarious bloopers in texting land. This one was not especially funny but I kind of tripped over it until looking back at the original paragraph.


8 posted on 07/22/2013 4:47:35 PM PDT by steve86 (Acerbic by Nature, not Nurture™)
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To: NYer
He needs to deal with this decisively and unequivocally, or he's going to be called something else altogether.

Prelate of Vatican bank reportedly offers resignation

CWN - July 22, 2013

The newly appointed prelate of the Vatican bank, the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), has offered to resign, according to a Roman news agency.

I Media, a respected outlet specializing in Vatican affairs, has sent a Twitter message that Msgr. Battista Ricca, who is at the center of a report about the influence of the "gay lobby" at the Vatican, offered his resignation to the Pope on Saturday, July 20.

The Vatican has not commented on the I Media report, which came just before Pope Francis left Rome for Rio de Janeiro, where he will preside at World Youth Day observances. A day earlier, however, the Vatican press office had said that reports of Msgr. Ricca's homosexual alliances were "not credible."

Msgr. Ricca was appointed by the Pope in June to become prelate of the IOR, exercising supervisory control of an institution that has been troubled by charges of lax oversight. Last week Sandro Magister of L’Espresso charged that Msgr. Battista Ricca had engaged in homosexual misconduct while on an earlier assignment as a Vatican diplomat in Uruguay. Magister claimed that the cleric had been protected, and information about his scandalous conduct had been kept from the Pope, by sympathetic Vatican officials.

Additional sources for this story
Some links will take you to other sites, in a new window.


9 posted on 07/22/2013 4:51:25 PM PDT by Brian Kopp DPM
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To: Tax-chick

Brazil traffic got be up there with 405 Freeway


10 posted on 07/22/2013 5:31:52 PM PDT by SevenofNine (We are Freepers, all your media bases belong to us ,resistance is futile)
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To: SevenofNine; steve86

South American traffic is beyond the imagination of North Americans.


11 posted on 07/22/2013 7:04:42 PM PDT by Tax-chick ("Thomas will explain everything.")
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To: Tax-chick

.....Guess it would make the worse traffic jams in either NYC or LA look a lot more bearable.


12 posted on 07/22/2013 7:52:20 PM PDT by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: NYer

Saw tonight on the replay of Pope Francis in Brazil him riding in a very simply white small car on the Brazilian highway going to Rio via presentation on EWTN.


13 posted on 07/22/2013 7:53:56 PM PDT by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: SevenofNine

When I had watched the replay on EWTN tonight of Pope Francis coming to Brazil, the highway his little white car he was riding in, it looked like the highway was made clear by the special Papal entourage. No road problems there. Saw that before changing channels to watch the stuff about the new British royal baby.


14 posted on 07/22/2013 7:56:53 PM PDT by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: Brian Kopp DPM

Has no one seen your post?

Wow.


15 posted on 07/23/2013 5:29:51 AM PDT by piusv
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To: piusv
What sort of comment would be expected? There was or still is some sort of "lavender mafia" lurking around? Is Ricca one of them? Would Ricca have any previous ties to the Vatican Bank, and problems there. If Ricca was "lavender" or not, would that have any bearing upon what what he may or may not have done / or do in regards to the bank? What is the extent of the Vatican Bank "scandals" of the last twenty years or so?

Do you know of anyone who took to hanging around under the Blackfriar's bridge?

What are people around here supposed to say? These are just rhetorical questions --- please don't feel obligated. If there be troubles (or even not) it's not on your shoulders to straighten it out, by which I mean, you and no one here is responsible for the actions of others.

Peace.

16 posted on 07/23/2013 6:36:56 AM PDT by BlueDragon (...and if my thought dreams, could be seen, They'd probably put my head, in a guillotine...)
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To: NYer
How come so many are so compelled to try their hand at explaining this guy?

Every word --- someone comes a long and tidies up afterwards --- oh, he didn't mean that, he meant this other thing.

It's like translators are not enough. There need be interpreters. And in this case...it's like a pre-loaded set of interpretations, before the guy even get's to talking (and tweeting, bwaahahah).

17 posted on 07/23/2013 6:43:32 AM PDT by BlueDragon (...and if my thought dreams, could be seen, They'd probably put my head, in a guillotine...)
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To: Brian Kopp DPM

I hear bit on UK Sunday paper about this scandel something about Gay Mafia faction of Vatican set this guy up

Really like totally out of that Brit series MI-5 aka Spooks


18 posted on 07/23/2013 10:35:38 AM PDT by SevenofNine (We are Freepers, all your media bases belong to us ,resistance is futile)
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To: BlueDragon

Come think of it

Francis Ford Coppola did whole movie based on Godfather 3 storyline based on Vatican bank he got more details


19 posted on 07/23/2013 10:36:23 AM PDT by SevenofNine (We are Freepers, all your media bases belong to us ,resistance is futile)
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To: BlueDragon
What are people around here supposed to say? These are just rhetorical questions --- please don't feel obligated

Perhaps you're right, but something seems wrong to just jump over such a serious post and say absolutely nothing as if it wasn't even there.

And as for your "don't feel obligated" comment above, that wasn't sarcastic, was it? Because it makes me think of another thread where I refused to respond to posters who badgered me with the same question over and over.

20 posted on 07/23/2013 11:26:12 AM PDT by piusv
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To: piusv

No sarcasm intended...was intended blandly, face value sort of thing. But I can see how that may have been less than clear. My apologies for that.

21 posted on 07/23/2013 12:43:28 PM PDT by BlueDragon (...and if my thought dreams, could be seen, They'd probably put my head, in a guillotine...)
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To: SevenofNine
Huh?

I don't know if I've seen that one. Saw parts of II. Saw the original 'Godfather' in the theaters. Big screen, back in those days. Went to nearby restaurant that had an all you can eat, "you-peel 'em" shrimp special, that same day. Some place in Dallas. Cannot recall where. But they were actual gulf brown shrimp. Not the Asian farm stuff one is more likely to find nowadays.

How's that for a thread hijack [attempt]? I come to it naturally. Just another accidental "criminal", minding my own business (and many other's biz-ness, too).

22 posted on 07/23/2013 12:51:48 PM PDT by BlueDragon (...and if my thought dreams, could be seen, They'd probably put my head, in a guillotine...)
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To: BlueDragon

Godfather 3 is worst of all the movies


23 posted on 07/23/2013 1:48:21 PM PDT by SevenofNine (We are Freepers, all your media bases belong to us ,resistance is futile)
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To: BlueDragon

I wasn’t sure, but I’m glad I asked. No need to apologize.


24 posted on 07/23/2013 4:11:04 PM PDT by piusv
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