Full text of Pope Francis’ in-flight interview from Mexico to Rome


From CNA, Vatican City, Feb 18, 2016 / 11:00 am

In his hour-long inflight news conference on his way from Juarez to Rome, Pope Francis touched on a wide range of hot-button topics, including immigration, pedophilia, the spread of the Zika virus and his meeting with Patriarch Kirill.

In the 60 minute interview, the Pope answered 12 questions posed in English, Spanish and Italian while on his overnight flight from Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez to Rome.

Among the more salient themes of the interview are Francis’ praise of retired pontiff Benedict XVI’s efforts in fighting the clerical abuse crisis and his condemnation of abortion as a quick-fix to the Zika virus outbreak.

He also responded to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s criticism of his stance on immigration, saying that if a person only seeks to build walls, they are not really a Christian.

Full English transcription of the interview:

Lombardi: Holy Father, thank you for being here, as at the end of every trip, for the summary conversation, a broad look at the trip that has occurred, and for your availability to respond to so many questions from our international community. We have, like usual, asked the different language groups to organize and prepare a few questions, but naturally we begin with our colleagues from Mexico.

Maria Eugenia Jimenez Caliz, Milenio (Mexico): Holy Father, in Mexico there are thousands of “desaparecidos,” (disappeared) but the case of 43 (students) of Ayotzinapa is an emblematic case. I would like to ask you, why didn’t you meet with their families? Also, (please send) a message for the families of thousands of the “desaparecidos.”

Pope Francis: If you read the messages attentively, I made reference continuously to the killings, the death, the life taken by all of these narcotrafficking gangs and human smugglers. I spoke of this problem as one of the wounds that Mexico suffers. There was an attempt to receive one of these groups, and there were many groups, even opposed among themselves, with infighting, so I preferred to say that I would see all of them at the Mass in Juarez or at another (Mass). It was practically impossible to meet all of these groups, which on the other hand were also fighting among themselves. It’s a situation that’s difficult to understand, especially for me because I’m a foreigner, right? I think that even the Mexican society is a victim of all of this, of these crimes of “cleaning” people, of discarding people. I spoke about it in four speeches even and you can check for it there. It’s a great pain that I’m taking, because this nation doesn’t deserve a drama like this one.

Javier Solorzano, Canal 11 (Mexico): The subject of pedophilia, as you know, in Mexico has very dangerous roots, very hurtful. The case of Father Maciel left a strong mark, especially on the victims. The victims continue to feel unprotected by the Church. Many continue to be men of faith. Some are still even in the priesthood. I want to ask you, what do you think of this subject? Did you at any moment consider meeting with the victims? And, in general, this idea that when the priests are detected in cases of this nature, what is done is that they are moved to another parish, nothing more? Thanks.

Pope Francis: OK, I’m going to start with the second. First, a bishop who moves a priest to another parish when a case of pedophilia is discovered is a reckless (inconsciente) man and the best thing he can do is to present his resignation. Is that clear?

Secondly, going back, the Maciel case, and here, I allow myself to honor the man who fought in moments when he had no strength to impose himself, until he managed to impose himself. Ratzinger. Cardinal Ratzinger deserves applause. (applause) Yes, applause for him. He had all of the documentation. He’s a man who as the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had everything in his hands. He conducted all the investigations, and went on, went on, went on, until he couldn’t go any further in the execution. But, if you remember, 10 days before the death of St. John Paul II, in that Via Crucis of Holy Friday, he said to the whole Church that it needed to clean up the dirt of the Church. And in the Pro-Eligendo Pontefice Mass, despite knowing that he was a candidate, he wasn’t stupid, he didn’t care to “make-up” his answer, he said exactly the same thing. He was the brave one who helped so many open this door. So, I want to remember him because sometimes we forget about this hidden works that were the foundations for “taking the lid off the pot.”

Thirdly, we’re doing quite a lot with the Cardinal Secretary of State (Pietro Parolin), and with the group of nine cardinal advisors. After listening, I decided to name a third secretary adjunct for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to take charge solely of these cases, because the Congregation isn’t able to keep up with all the cases it has.

Also, an appeals tribunal was constituted by Monsignor Scicluna which is dealing with the cases of second instance when there are recourses, because the first recourses are done by the plenary of the (Congregation of the) Doctrine of the Faith, the “feria quarta,” they call it, that gathers on Wednesdays. When there is recourse, it goes back to first instance, and it’s not fair. So, the second instance is also a legal matter, with a defending lawyer, but we need to work faster, because we’re behind with the cases, because cases continue to appear.

Another thing that is working very well is the commission for the protection of minors. It’s not exclusively devoted to cases of pedophilia, but the protection of minors. There, I spent an entire morning with six of them, two German, two British and two Irish. Abused men and women. Victims. And I also met with victims in Philadelphia. So we’re working. But I thank God because the lid is off the pot, and we have to continue taking it off. We need to take consciousness.

And, the final thing I would like to say that it’s a monstrosity, because a priest is consecrated to lead a child to God, and he eats him in a diabolical sacrifice. He destroys him.

Javier Solorzano: And on Maciel?

Pope Francis: Well, about Maciel, going back to the congregation (Editor’s note: The Legion of Christ, order founded by then-Fr. Marciel Maciel), there was an intervention and today the government of the congregation is semi-involved. That is, the superior general, who is elected by a council, by the general chapter, and the other two are selected by the Pope. In this way, we are helping to review old accounts.

Phil Pullella, Reuters: Today, you spoke very eloquently about the problems of immigration. On the other side of the border, there is a very tough electoral battle. One of the candidates for the White House, Republican Donald Trump, in an interview recently said that you are a political man and he even said that you are a pawn, an instrument of the Mexican government for migration politics. Trump said that if he’s elected, he wants to build 2,500 kilometers of wall along the border. He wants to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, separating families, etcetera. I would like to ask you, what do you think of these accusations against you and if a North American Catholic can vote for a person like this?

Pope Francis: Thank God he said I was a politician because Aristotle defined the human person as ‘animal politicus.’ At least I am a human person. As to whether I am a pawn, well, maybe, I don’t know. I’ll leave that up to your judgment and that of the people. And then, a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel. As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.

Jean-Louis de la Vaisserie, AFP (France): The meeting with the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and the signing of the joint declaration was greeted by the entire world as an historic step. But now today in the Ukraine, Greek Catholics feel betrayed. They speak of a political document that supports Russian politics. In the field, the war of words has reignited. Do you think you’ll be able to go to Moscow? Were you invited by the patriarch? Or, (will you) go to Crete to greet the Pan-Orthodox Council in the spring?

Pope Francis: I’ll begin with the end. I will be present…spiritually. And with a message. I would like to go greet them there at the pan-orthodox synod. They are brothers, but I must respect them. But, I know that they want to invite Catholic observers and this is a good bridge, but behind the Catholic observers I will be praying with my best wishes that the Orthodox move ahead because they are brothers and their bishops are bishops like us.

Then, Kirill, my brother. We kissed each other, embraced, and then a conversation for an hour (Fr Lombardi corrects)…two hours. Old age doesn’t come on its own. (laughs) Two hours where we spoke as brothers, sincerely and no one knows what was spoke about, only what we said at the end publicly about how we felt as we spoke.

Secondly, that statement, that declaration about Ukraine. When I read this, I was a little bit worried because it was Sviatoslav Schevchuk who said that the Ukrainian people, some Ukrainians, also many Ukrainians felt disappointed and betrayed. I know Sviatoslav very well. In Buenos Aires, we worked together for four years. When he was elected – at 42 years old, eh, good man – he was elected major archbishop, he came back to Buenos Aires to get his things. He came to me and he gave me an icon – little like this – of Our Lady of Tenderness. And he told me, ‘This has accompanied me my entire life. I want to leave it to you who accompanied me over the last four years. It’s one of the few things I had brought from Buenos Aires and I keep it on my desk. That is, he’s a man whom I respect and also familiarity. We use “tu” with each other (Editor’s note: “tu” is the informal way of addressing someone in Italian – they speak as friends) and so on.

So, for this it seemed strange to me and I remembered something I said here to you: to understand a piece of news, a statement, you need to seek the hermeneutic of everything.

But, when you said this, it was said in a statement from January 14th, last February, last Sunday…an interview made by brother…I don’t remember…a priest, a Ukrainian priest, in Ukraine it was conducted and it was published. That news, the interview is one page, two, a little bit more, give or take. That interview is on the last page, a little like this. I read the interview and I’ll say this: Schevchuk, in the dogmatic part declares himself to be a son of the Church and in communion with the bishop of Rome and the Church. He speaks of the Pope and his closeness of the Pope and of himself, his faith, and also of the Orthodox people there. The dogmatic part, there’s no difficulty. He’s Orthodox in the good sense of the word, that is in Catholic doctrine, no.

And then, as in an interview like this one, everyone has the right to say his things and this wasn’t done in the meeting, because the meeting, it was a good thing and we have to move forward. This, he didn’t do in the meeting, the encounter was a good thing and we must move forward. This, the second chapter, the personal ideas that a person has. For example, this, what I said about the bishops who move pedophile priests, the best thing they can do is resign. This isn’t a dogmatic thing, but this is what I think. So, he has his personal ideas. They’re for dialoguing and he has a right to have them.

Thirdly…ah, all of what he’s speaking about is in the document, that’s the issue. On the fact of the meeting: the Lord chose to move it ahead, the embrace and all is well. The document. It’s a debatable document and there’s also another addition. In Ukraine, it’s a moment of war, of suffering, with so many interpretations. I have named the Ukrainian people, asking for prayers, closeness, so many times both in the Angelus and in the Wednesday audience. There is this closeness. But the historical fact of a war, experienced as…I don’t know if…well, everyone has their own idea of this war, who started it, what to do and it’s evident that this is a historical issue, but also a personal, historical, existential issue of that country and it speaks of the suffering. And, there I insert this paragraph. You can understand the faithful, because Stanislav told me that so many faithful have written to me saying that they are deeply disappointed and betrayed by Rome. You can understand that a people in this situation would feel this, no? The final document but it is a jotting down of some things. Pardon, it’s debatable on this question of Ukraine. But there, it says to make the war stop, that they find agreements. Also, I personally said that the Minsk accords move forward and are not eliminated. “With the elbows what wasn’t written with the hands.” (Original phrase in Italian: “Con il gomito quello che non e scritto con le mani”)

The Church of Rome, the Pope has always said, ’Seek peace.’ I also received both presidents. Equality, no. And so for this when he says that he’s heard this from his people, I understand it. I understand it. But, that’s not the news. The news is everything.

If you read the entire interview, you’ll see that there are serious dogmatic things that remain, there’s a desire for unity, to move ahead in the ecumenical – and he’s an ecumenical man. There are a few opinions. He wrote to me when he found out about the trip, the encounter, but, as a brother, giving his opinion as a brother. I don’t mind the document how it is. I don’t dislike it in the sense that we need to respect the things that everyone has the freedom to think and in (the context of) this situation that is so difficult. From Rome, now the nuncio is on the border where they’re fighting, helping soldiers and the wounded. The Church of Rome has sent so much help there. It’s always peace, agreements. We must respect the Minsk accords and so on. This is the entirety. But, don’t get scared by that phrase. And this is a lesson that a piece of news must be interpreted with the hermeneutic of everything and not just a part.

Jean-Louis de la Vaisserie: did the Patriarch invite you to come to Moscow sometime?

Pope Francis: Patriarch Kirill. I would prefer – because if I say one thing, I have to say another and another and another. I would prefer that what we spoke about, us, alone, will remain only what we said in public. This is a fact. And if I say this, then I’ll have to say another and another…no! The things I said in public, the things he said in public. This is what can be said about the private conversation. To say it, it wouldn’t be private. But, I tell you, I walked out of it happy, and he did too.

Carlo Marroni, Il Sole 24 (Italy): Holy Father, my question is about the family, a subject which you addressed often during this trip. The Italian parliament is discussing a law on civil unions, a subject that is provoking strong political clashes but also a strong debate in society and among Catholics. In particular, I would like to know your thoughts on the subject of adoption by civil unions and therefore on the rights of children and of sons and daughters in general.

Pope Francis: First of all, I don’t know how things stand in the thinking of the Italian parliament. The Pope doesn’t get mixed up in Italian politics. At the first meeting I had with the (Italian) bishops in May 2013, one of the three things I said was: with the Italian government you’re on your own. Because the pope is for everybody and he can’t insert himself in the specific internal politics of a country. This is not the role of the pope, right? And what I think is what the Church thinks and has said so often – because this is not the first country to have this experience, there are so many – I think what the Church has always said about this.

Paloma García Ovejero, Cadena COPE (Spain): Holy Father, for several weeks there’s been a lot of concern in many Latin American countries but also in Europe regarding the Zika virus. The greatest risk would be for pregnant women. There is anguish. Some authorities have proposed abortion, or else to avoiding pregnancy. As regards avoiding pregnancy, on this issue, can the Church take into consideration the concept of “the lesser of two evils?”

Pope Francis: Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. It is a crime. It is to throw someone out in order to save another. That’s what the Mafia does. It is a crime, an absolute evil. On the ‘lesser evil,’ avoiding pregnancy, we are speaking in terms of the conflict between the fifth and sixth commandment. Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape.

Don’t confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy by itself, with abortion. Abortion is not a theological problem, it is a human problem, it is a medical problem. You kill one person to save another, in the best case scenario. Or to live comfortably, no? It’s against the Hippocratic oaths doctors must take. It is an evil in and of itself, but it is not a religious evil in the beginning, no, it’s a human evil. Then obviously, as with every human evil, each killing is condemned.

On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear. I would also urge doctors to do their utmost to find vaccines against these two mosquitoes that carry this disease. This needs to be worked on.

Jurgen Erbacher, ZDF (Germany): Holiness, you will soon receive the Charlemagne Prize, and that’s the main European one. What do you say to Europe, which now seems to be falling to pieces, first with the crisis of the euro and now that of the refugees? Maybe you have a word for us in this situation of European crisis?

Pope Francis: First, about the Charlemagne Prize. I had the habit of not accepting prizes or honors, but always, not out of humility, but because I don’t like them. Maybe it’s a little crazy, but it’s good to have it, but I just don’t like them. But in this case, I don’t say (I was) forced, but convinced by the holy and theological headstrongness of Cardinal Kasper, because he was chosen, elected by Aachen to convince me. And I said yes, but in the Vatican. And I said I offer it for Europe, as a co-decoration for Europe, a prize so that Europe may do what I desired at Strasburg; that it may no longer be “grandmother Europe” but “mother Europe.”

Secondly, reading the news the other day about this crisis and so on – I read little, I just glance through one newspaper – I won’t say the name so as not to create jealousy, but it is known! – Just 15 minutes, then I get information from the Secretariat of State and so on. And, there was one word that I liked, and I don’t know if they will approve it or not, but it was “the re-foundation of the European Union.” I thought of the great fathers, but today where is there a Schuman, and Adenauer, these great ones who after the war founded the European Union. I like this idea of the re-foundation of the European Union, maybe it can be done, because Europe – I do not say is unique, but it has a force, a culture, a history that cannot be wasted, and we must do everything so that the European Union has the strength and also the inspiration to make it go forward. That’s what I think.

Anne Thompson, NBC (USA): Some wonder how a Church that claims to be merciful, how can the Church forgive a murderer easier than someone who has divorced and remarried?

Pope Francis: I like this question! On the family, two synods have spoken. The Pope has spoken on this all year in the Wednesday Catechisms. The question is true, you posed it very well. In the post-synod document that will be published, perhaps before Easter – it picks up on everything the synod – in one of the chapters, because it has many – it spoke about the conflicts, wounded families and the pastoral (care) of wounded families. It is one of the concerns. As another is the preparation for marriage. Imagine, to become a priest there are eight years of study and preparation, and then if after a while you can’t do it, you can ask for a dispensation, you leave, and everything is OK. On the other hand, to make a sacrament (marriage), which is for your whole life, three to four conferences…Preparation for marriage is very important. It’s very, very important because I believe it is something that in the Church, in common pastoral ministry, at least in my country, in South America, the Church has not valued much.

For example, not so much anymore but some years ago in my homeland there was a habit, something called ‘casamiento de apuro,’ a marriage in haste because the baby is coming and to cover socially the honor of the family. There, they weren’t free and it happened many times this marriage is null. As a bishop I forbade my priests to do this. Priests, when there was something like this, I would say, let the baby come, let them continue as fiancées, and when they feel like they can continue for the rest of their lives, then they could go ahead. There is a lack there.

Another very interesting chapter is the education of children: the victims of problems of the family are the children. The children. Even of problems that neither husband nor wife have a say in. For example, the needs of a job. When the dad doesn’t have free time to speak to his children, when the mother doesn’t have time to speak with her children. When I confess a couple who have kids, a married couple, I ask, ‘how many children do you have?’ Some get worried and think the priest will ask why I don’t have more. I would make a second question, ‘Do you play with your children?’ The majority say, ‘but father, I have no time. I work all day.’ Children are victims of a social problem that wounds the family. It is a problem… I like your question.

Another interesting thing from the meeting with families in Tuxtla. There was a couple, married again in second union integrated in the pastoral ministry of the Church. The key phrase used by the synod, which I’ll take up again, is ‘integrate’ in the life of the Church the wounded families, remarried families, etcetera. But of this one mustn’t forget the children in the middle. They are the first victims, both in the wounds, and in the conditions of poverty, of work, etcetera.

Thompson: Does that mean they can receive Communion?

Pope Francis: This is the last thing. Integrating in the Church doesn’t mean receiving communion. I know married Catholics in a second union who go to church, who go to church once or twice a year and say I want communion, as if joining in Communion were an award. It’s a work towards integration, all doors are open, but we cannot say, ‘from here on they can have communion.’ This would be an injury also to marriage, to the couple, because it wouldn’t allow them to proceed on this path of integration. And those two were happy. They used a very beautiful expression: we don’t receive Eucharistic communion, but we receive communion when we visit hospitals and in this and this and this. Their integration is that. If there is something more, the Lord will tell them, but it’s a path, a road.

Antoine Marie Izoard, I.Media (France): Holiness, good evening. I permit myself first off, joking, to tell you how much we Vaticanistas are hostages of the schedule of the Holy Father and we can’t play with our children. Saturday is the jubilee audience, Sunday the Angelus and from Monday through Friday we have to go work. And also a hug to Alberto, who with Fr. Lombardi 20 years ago hired me at Vatican Radio. We’re in family here.

A question that is a bit “risqué,” Holiness. Numerous media have evoked and made a lot of noise on the intense correspondence John Paul II and the American philosopher, Ana Teresa Tymieniecka, who had a great affection, it’s said, for the Polish Pope. In your viewpoint, can a Pope have such an intimate relationship with a woman? And also, if you allow me, you who have an important correspondence, have you known this type of experience?

Pope Francis: I already knew about this friendship between St. John Paul II and this philosopher when I was in Buenos Aires. It was known. Also her books are known. John Paul II was a restless man. Then, I would also say that a man who does not know how to have a relationship of friendship with a woman – I’m not talking about misogynists, who are sick – well, he’s a man who is missing something.

And in my own experience, including when I ask for advice, I would ask a collaborator, a friend, I also like to hear the opinion of a woman because they have such wealth. They look at things in a different way. I like to say that women are those who form life in their wombs – and this is a comparison I make – they have this charism of giving you things you can build with. A friendship with a woman is not a sin. (It’s) a friendship. A romantic relationship with a woman who is not your wife, that is a sin. Understand?

But the Pope is a man. The Pope needs the input of women, too. And the Pope, too, has a heart that can have a healthy, holy friendship with a woman. There are saint-friends – Francis and Clare, Teresa and John of the Cross – don’t be frightened. But women are still not considered so well; we have not understood the good that a woman do for the life of a priest and of the church in the sense of counsel, help of a healthy friendship.

Franca Giansoldati, Il Messaggero (Italy): Holiness, good evening. I return back to the topic of the law that is being voted on in the Italian parliament. It is a law that in some ways is about other countries, because other countries have laws about unions among people of the same sex. There is a document from the Congregation for the Doctrine for the Faith from 2003 that dedicates a lot of attention to this, and even more, dedicates a chapter to the position of Catholic parliamentarians in parliament before this question. It says expressly that Catholic parliamentarians must not vote for these laws. Considering that there is much confusion on this, I wanted to ask, first of all, is this document of 2003 still in effect? And what is the position a Catholic parliamentarian must take? And then another thing, after Moscow, Cairo. Is there another thawing out on the horizon? I’m referring to the audience that you wish for with the Pope and the Sunnis, let’s call them that way, the Imam of Al Azhar.

Pope Francis: For this, Msgr. Ayuso went to Cairo last week to meet the second to the Imam and to greet the Imam. Msgr. Ayuso, secretary to Cardinal Tauran of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. I want to meet him. I know that he would like it. We are looking for the way, always through Cardinal Tauran because it is the path, but we will achieve it.

About the other, I do not remember that 2003 document from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith well but every Catholic parliamentarian must vote according their well-formed conscience. I would say just this. I believe it is sufficient because – I say well-formed because it is not the conscience of ‘what seems to me.’ I remember when matrimony for persons of the same sex was voted on in Buenos Aires and the votes were tied. And at the end, one said to advise the other: ‘But is it clear to you? No, me neither, but we’re going to lose like this. But if we don’t go there won’t be a quorum.’ The other said: ‘If we have a quorum we will give the vote to Kirchner.’ And, the other said: ‘I prefer to give it to Kirchner and not Bergoglio.’ And they went ahead. This is not a well formed conscience.

On people of the same sex, I repeat what I said on the trip to Rio di Janeiro. It’s in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Javier Martinez-Brocal, Rome Reports (Italy): We’re not back to Rome yet but we are thinking about future trips, about preparing our suitcases again. Holy Father, when are you going to go to Argentina, where they have been waiting for you for a long time? When will you return to Latin America? Or go to China? Then, a quick comment, you spoke many times during this trip about dreaming – what do you dream about? And what is your nightmare?

Pope Francis: China. (laughs) To go there. I would love that. I would like to say something just about the Mexican people. It is a population that has a wealth, such great wealth, a people that surprises. They have a culture, a culture that goes back millennia. Do you know that today, in Mexico, they speak 65 languages, counting the indigenous languages, 65. It is a people of great faith. They have also suffered religious persecution. There are martyrs, now I will canonize two. It is a population that you can’t explain, you can’t explain it because the word ‘people’ is not a logical category, it’s a mythical category. The Mexican people, you cannot explain this wealth, this history, this joy, the capacity to celebrate amid these tragedies that you have asked about. I can say another thing, that this unity, that this people has managed not to fail, not to end with so many wars, things, things that are happening now. There in the city of Juarez there was a pact of 12 hours of peace for my visit. After that they will continue to fight among themselves, no? Traffickers. But a people that still is together with all that, you can only explain with Guadalupe. And I invite you to seriously study the facts of Guadalupe. The Madonna is there. I cannot find another explanation. And it would be nice if you as journalists – there are some books that explain the painting what it is like, the significance, and that is how you can understand better this great and beautiful people.

Caroline Pigozzi, Paris Match (France): Good evening, Holy Father. Two things, I wanted to know what did you ask Guadalupe? Because you were there a long time in the chapel praying to Guadalupe. And then something else, do you dream in Italian or Spanish?

Pope Francis: I’d say I dream in Esperanto (laughs). I don’t know how to respond to that. Truly. Sometimes I remember some dreams in another language, but dreaming in languages no, but figures yes, my psychology is this way. With words I dream very little, no? And, the first question was?


I asked for the world, for peace, so many things. The poor thing ended up with her head like this (raises arms around head). I asked forgiveness, I asked that the Church grows healthy, I asked for the Mexican people. And another thing I asked a lot for: that priests be true priests, and sisters true sisters, and bishops true bishops. As the Lord wants. This I asked a lot for, but then, the things a child tells his mother are a bit of a secret. Thanks, Carolina.


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83 Responses to Full text of Pope Francis’ in-flight interview from Mexico to Rome

  1. ginnyfree says:

    Oh thank you so much for this wonderful article. Don’t cha just love the man? I do. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  2. johnhenrycn says:

    I’ve not read Pope Francis’s interview in full yet (about one-third the way through) but thus far, I’m relieved: it’s not as problematic as a couple of his previous trans-Atlantic flights of fancy 😉 and I share Ginny’s affection for the man, as I always have.

    Thank you, Michael, for that chuckle from Eye of the Tiber, and for the more sober thoughts of Dr Peters. I was particularly attentive to his remarks concerning use of contraceptives by women in times and arenas of violent conflict. Kind regards.

  3. Michael says:

    No problem JH – here’s some more careful commentary on the Paul VI/Congo remark and the rest, if if takes your fancy (recommended – Akin is usually pretty thorough I find):


    Yes, this interview was certainly not as problematic as other in-flight chats. But I just wish he’d stop doing them altogether – he doesn’t need to do so, and it would save a lot of bother (and confusion for a good many people) if he didn’t.

  4. mmvc says:

    Re Pope Francis’ comments on abortion and contraception Chris Ferrara points out:

    „Here Francis appears to have fallen prey to the error of consequentialism, which seeks to justify an evil act by the supposed greater good its consequences will entail. My erstwhile debate opponent Mark Shea has rightly described this error as ,the most popular moral heresy in the world.‘ Well, Francis is nothing if not popular. But any well-catechized child knows that it is never permissible to violate one Commandment on the pretense of following another, and that such ,conflicts‘ in reality do not exist. We may never ,do evil that good may come (Romans 3:7-8).‘ Francis, alarmingly enough, appears not to recognize that the ends of an action can never justify the means, but rather both means and ends must always conform to the moral law.“
    (Christopher A. Ferrara, President and lead counsel for the American Catholic Lawyers Inc.)

  5. ginnyfree says:

    I hate to take it down a peg, but guess what? The Holy Father doesn’t actually say contraception. He says avoiding pregnancy. Big difference. HUGE difference. I guess having been a wife and mother, it is nice to think you are joining to your husband make a baby. It is fun and fulfilling. The anticipation of this work is also thrilling. But there is a time in life when for various reasons it must be avoided. The natural way, which is spelled out in the Scriptures, is to refrain from embraces, thusly avoiding pregnancy. People know this on the natural plan. Even the indians in the jungles of Brazil know the basics: sex leads to pregnancy. To avoid pregnancy, avoid sexual acts. Is this The exact same words Pope Francis used. Is this evil? Is this an evil that should be equated with abortion? The logical answer to both is no. The canonical answer to both is also no. Responsible parenthood is never evil. It is what we are taught to do as good Christian mommies and daddies by our own parents optimally and this gets reinforced for us thru our communities individually in our own parish lives as we are growing up. The closer to its fulfillment as our chosen vocation in life becomes, the more informed we become on the means to carrying it out. Why all this rudimentary stuff? Because persons knowing these things would automatically be upset by a sudden warning in the local paper about an outbreak of a mosquito borne virus that effects the child in the womb if contracted during pregnancy and being Christians would know that it may indeed be a time to refrain from embraces as Scripture advises. Is this evil? No. But the true evil may be in the misuse of this problem to try and persuade parents to embrace a Culture of Death as a cure for fear of birth defects. All the spin doctoring over the Holy Father’s words sadly misrepresenting him and causing distress among Catholics and others who look up to him, by twisting his words to mean something they don’t has thrown a blinding smoke screen up to avoid the actual evil of using a dangerous situation for parents hoping to have children to promote the “cure” for it all: kill the children and then to ensure no more get conceived during this “dangerous outbreak of the Zika virus,” contracept away the rest of your children till the Bureau of Population Control determines it is now safe to have sex without having to kill the children. That is the real evil that is obscured by their shift in focus and outright lies about what Pope Francis said. And yet, even Catholics are choosing to go along with the spin the place on what he says. It gets tiring and trying. Nuff said. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  6. ginnyfree says:

    Ooops sorry for the typos. I forgot this place has no spell checker. Grrrrrrrrrrr……..

  7. mmvc says:

    Thank you for this eloquent, encouraging and very Catholic explanation/interpretation of Pope Francis’ words.
    I only wish the Holy Father’s own spokesman understood them in that way. Instead here’s what he said:

    Fr. Lombardi told Vatican Radio today, “The contraceptive or condom, in particular cases of emergency or gravity, could be the object of discernment in a serious case of conscience. This is what the Pope said.”

    According to Lombardi, the pope spoke of “the possibility of taking recourse to contraception or condoms in cases of emergency or special situations. He is not saying that this possibility is accepted without discernment, indeed, he said clearly that it can be considered in cases of special urgency.”

    Lombardi reiterated the example that Pope Francis made of Pope Paul VI’s supposed “authorization of the use of the pill for the religious who were at very serious risk” of rape. This, said Lombardi, “makes us understand that it is not that it was a normal situation in which this was taken into account.”

  8. toadspittle says:

    “Even the indians in the jungles of Brazil know the basics: sex leads to pregnancy.”
    Just because they are “Indians in the jungle,” it doesn’t mean they are ignorant half-wits. Every society knows how babies are made.
    That idiocy aside, Francis is clearly endorsing contraception – in certain cases.
    Well, there we are.
    A lot of other people do the same.

  9. Michael says:

    Ginny @ 12:22:

    As mmvc notes above, Pope Francis’ own spokesman clarified that the use of condoms was what was being referred to. If Fr. Lombardi is wrong in this, it would first of all be strange in and of itself, as his job is to clarify anything said by the Holy Father, and furthermore, someone else would have corrected what he said by now.

    But, even if Fr. Lombardi had come out and said something along the lines of ‘no, no, of course that’s not what the Holy Father meant…he was merely mentioning Paul VI’s comments about condoms by way of speaking about avoiding pregnancy in general…even though these comments were referring to a completely different situation…yes, I know it was an odd choice, but…’, does it not worry you at all that such an explanation would be required?

    Apart from the fact that giving in-flight interviews to journalists is a questionable practice to engage in in the first place, do you not find Pope Francis’ comments on quite a lot of things during the course of his pontificate to be lacking in clarity? And if so, do you not think that the confusion that follows many of his public pronouncements cannot be put down solely to media misrepresentation and/or spin, and that he may have to bear some of the responsibility for this confusion himself?

    This article sums up the concerns of many Catholics quite well I think:


  10. johnhenrycn says:

    Ginnyfree says: “The Holy Father doesn’t actually say contraception. He says avoiding pregnancy. Big difference. HUGE difference.”

    GF, it’s NOT a HUGE difference, because he DID condone contraception:

    “Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape…[A]voiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one…the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.”

    It was insinuated on another website earlier today that I might be “a troll” for suggesting that Catholic doctrine is not 100% opposed to contraception, as the above verbatim quote from Pope Francis’s in-flight remarks clearly confirms. Let me be clear (© POTUS) and let me also be quite a bit more earthy in using language than I fear that other website would allow: A woman who is not in any conjugal relationship and who flushes out her birth canal after an act of rape in the hope of removing or diluting ejaculate, whilst committing a contraceptive act, has not gone against Catholic doctrine. Let me go further and submit that Catholic doctrine does not forbid any woman – a nun or otherwise – who is not in a conjugal relationship, but who is in a theatre of violent conflict (e.g. Syria and East Africa) and who therefore does have a clear and present fear of rape, from using contraceptive pills, devices and actions.

  11. johnhenrycn says:

    …And let me go even further and submit ask whether any woman – even a “loose” woman or prostitute – who uses contraceptives to prevent pregnancy on account of fear of rape is forbidden by Catholic doctrine from so doing? The sidewalks of Detroit come to mind.
    (Happy 215th birthday tomorrow, John Henry Newman)

  12. Michael says:

    Johnhenry @ 20:30, 20:48:

    The thing is, what does any of that have to do with the question the Holy Father was actually asked, which was regarding the propriety of using contraception to prevent women becoming pregnant and possibly contracting the Zika virus (the connection of which with birth defects in children is far from fully established – an important aside here)? As Jimmy Akin writes:

    Humanae Vitae unambiguously rejects acts which would render relations between husbands and wives infertile “as an end or as a means.”

    Preventing a wife’s pregnancy for its own sake would be preventing it “as an end,” while preventing it for another reason—such as to prevent a child from having birth defects as a result of the Zika virus—would be preventing it “as a means” toward the end of having not having a child with birth defects.

    It is hard to see how the latter would not violate the teaching of Humanae Vitae.

    It is also hard to see how it would not justify contraception in other circumstances in which a married couple might have a child who might end up with birth defects—yet the Church has never suggested that married couples refrain from having such children.

    Granted, the Holy Father did not actually say that contraceptives should be used to avoid pregnancy in such cases. However, he did talk about the use of contraceptives in a completely different situation (such as you have outlined well above) and then immediately go on to talk about avoiding pregnancy, giving the impression that he was linking the two, and creating a great deal of confusion (which I submit, Ginny, is not solely down to media spin but generated in large part by the Holy Father’s overly casual way of discussing delicate topics).

  13. johnhenrycn says:

    Paloma García Ovejero, Cadena COPE (Spain): Holy Father, for several weeks there’s been a lot of concern in many Latin American countries but also in Europe regarding the Zika virus. The greatest risk would be for pregnant women. There is anguish. Some authorities have proposed abortion, or else to avoiding pregnancy. As regards avoiding pregnancy, on this issue, can the Church take into consideration the concept of “the lesser of two evils?”

    Michael, the question put to Pope Francis was indeed in reference to avoiding pregnancy as a means of preventing infection by the Zika virus. His Holiness chose – as his his wont – to expand his response by speaking of contraception more generally, which is what I have also done; but in so doing, neither he nor I are referring to conjugal relationships, but rather to the act of rape by someone other than a woman’s husband. Your quote from Akin’s piece doesn’t address that.

    Perhaps our signals are crossed here, much like on the other website I mention above, where my remarks on this issue are “under moderation” last time I checked.

  14. ginnyfree says:

    Well, John Henry, I’m not sure his information is actually credible in this regard. I’d actually started looking into the allegations, but for want of time, I couldn’t go too deep. Perhaps someone will provide substantiation on this. In the meantime, keep in mind an interview on an airplane is not binding in anyway nor is it a statement of either personal convictions or doctrinal truth. He is not declaring contraception acceptable. It was a baited question meant to do what it did: elicit a response. The Pope cannot declare contraception acceptable for anyone same as he cannot let divorced and remarried have communion or allow gays to marry in the Church. If this were another man, no one would dare insinuate such things or dare to ask him except those who would quickly be dismissed and never asked back into the presence of the Holy Father again. He is kind and open to all and he has been treated way too disrespectfully. The press constantly takes advantage of him. It is frustrating to watch their rudeness. They eat him up. Nuff said. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  15. ginnyfree says:

    One other thought John Henry, the Pill isn’t going to help any women being raped. And a woman’s body’s natural reaction to an actual rape is to empty the contents of the womb. It is rare that rape results in pregnancy. I suppose if a woman is captured and repeatedly assaulted sexually, she may well become pregnant. It does happen but mostly it doesn’t. As for the use of devices, think: “Oh dear! Mister would you please stop a minute and put on a condom?” and the assailant complies? Right. Sure. Okie dokie.

  16. ginnyfree says:

    Hello MMVC. Father Lombardi needs to read the full text again I think, s-l-o-w-l-y this time. Check it out.

    You posted this: “Fr. Lombardi told Vatican Radio today, “The contraceptive or condom, in particular cases of emergency or gravity, could be the object of discernment in a serious case of conscience. This is what the Pope said.”

    But none of those actual words are anywhere in the text of the interview, ergo the Pope DID NOT SAY what Father Lombardi says he did. Any fool can see for himself. Perhaps the good Father was not aware that we actually can read the entire interview. Oh dear. See what I mean?

    I sincerely hope you can find a source that actually is credible that is a direct quotation of the Holy Father, Pope Francis stating clearly the EXACT words Father Lombardi claims he said. I’m bettin’ three plug nickels you can’t but feel free to make me eat my words.

    God bless. Ginnyfree.

  17. johnhenrycn says:

    “John Henry [Sic, Sic, bloody Sic] keep in mind an interview on an airplane is not binding in anyway…or doctrinal truth”

    Thank you so much, dear GF. I never knew that. Still, I suggest there are circumstances in which Catholic dogma forgives, permits – nay approves – contraceptive acts. There’s a difference between contraception and abortion. It’s necessary to agree on that before continuing.

    Nuff said. God bless.
    “One other thought John Henry”[Sic, Sic, bloody Sic]
    GF, your comment at 23:03 would embarrass a sophomore. In no way does it address anything I’ve said or have made reference to on this thread. Okie dokie?

  18. mmvc says:

    Hi Ginny.
    I very much doubt that Father Lombardi would issue these statements of ‘clarification’ without prior consultation with his boss. Also, the fact that there was no retraction or correction of the most recent clarification speaks volumes.

    As for evidence that the Pope did mean artificial contraception (‘in certain cases’ – the thin end of the wedge springs to mind here) rather than ‘refraining from embraces’, isn’t the papal quote provided by JH in his reply to you at 20.30 proof enough? :

    “Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape…[A]voiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one…the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.”

    ‘I’m bettin’ three plug nickels you can’t but feel free to make me eat my words.’

    An extra rosary from us both for Pope Francis might be a better bet 😉

    God bless!

  19. toadspittle says:

    “…It was a baited question meant to do what it did: elicit a response. “
    How does that make the question “baited,” Ginster? That’s what questions are for ; “to elicit a response.” And it’s what hacks do for a living.

    JH is right: The Gin-Free comment (at 23.03) is stupefying by any deplorable standard. Even Toad’s. Even if pregnancy fro rape is “rare,” (how does she know that – and which I seriously doubt) what useful conclusion are we meant to derive from this information?

    “…the Zika virus (the connection of which with birth defects in children is far from fully established –”
    …So… it’s all right to go ahead and take a chance then, Michael?

  20. kathleen says:

    An “extra rosary” (cf, mmvc) for Pope Francis could include the petition to Our Lady to please open the Holy Father’s eyes to the disastrous consequences of speaking off-the-cuff at these in-flight press conferences! 😉 There’s not been a single one these three years of his papacy that has not produced some shock, upset, even scandal (to what could have been his meaning), and always great confusion.
    If my memory serves me right, I don’t remember it being necessary to have a ‘Father Lombardi’ clarifying every utterance of previous Popes on their way home from their pastoral trips abroad. Am I right?

    This comment placed on Father Z’s blog about the loaded intentions of the media when questioning the Pope, who unsuspectingly will so often fail into their trap, is bang on (IMO):

    “[T]his incident serves to underscore how dangerous it is for a Pope (or any official of the Church) to deal directly with the secular media. The media thrives on controversy, novelty, and “man bites dog” stories and is not above inventing these things when necessary. There is also an inherent “lese majeste” involved in any contact with the media which undermines the sense of apostolic authority. Journalists are accustomed to interrogating politicians. But our pontiff is not a politician, he is a kind of king, is he not? It is not proper for a king to be badgered by the fourth estate. Kings should not speak off the cuff lest they descend into being mere politicans.”

  21. kathleen says:

    Another remark Pope Francis made in this interview that no-one has picked up on was that he made about priests having friendships with women!

    Of course men and women may have a platonic close relationship, sharing ideas, advice and opinions, and this can be very rewarding – we all know that. But we also all know only too well that between two people of the opposite sex, (and when this relationship can never lead towards marriage), the possibility of something more than ‘friendship’ will occasionally rear its ugly head. This is when an immediate distancing has to be made before the temptation to sin grows greater. Good priests will back off then (and good women should too!) This is not because priests are “frightened” of women, as Pope Francis rather naively insinuates, but because they recognise the danger signs – (1 Corinthians 6:18) – and place their fidelity to their priestly vocation above all else.

  22. toadspittle says:

    “The media thrives on controversy, novelty, and “man bites dog” stories and is not above inventing these things when necessary. “
    During 40 years spent in the humbug mines,, I have never known it to be even remotely “necessary,” There’s plenty enough idiocy, featuring dog-biting loonies kicking around this sorry world already to fill any media “slot,” No need at all to “invent” any more of it.

    “…the possibility of something more than ‘friendship’ will occasionally rear its ugly head.”
    That would be “love,” I suppose. Ugliness is in the eye of the beholder.

    “It is not proper for a king to be badgered by the fourth estate..
    …Oh, yes it is. …And popes, too. Democracy at work. Much to the collective horror of CP&S.
    Disgraceful! Imagine hacks In The Good Old Days trying to “badger” The Dear Old Generalissimo!
    Up against the wall, you impertinent rascals! Bang, Bang!

  23. ginnyfree says:

    Good morning Toadie. Here’s the bait offered by Paloma from Spain: “Some authorities have proposed abortion, or else to avoiding pregnancy. As regards avoiding pregnancy, on this issue, can the Church take into consideration the concept of “the lesser of two evils?”

    I wish I could bold a few segments, but here goes –
    NOtice the reporter offers two options as the only two options available in regards to a response by women to the outbreak of the Zika virus, one being abortion and the other being avoiding pregnancy and that this is offered to them by some “authorities.” So far, this are fine and dandy, quite easily understood, an abortion being forbidden, but the other option, avoiding pregnancy, isn’t evil at all as I’ve pointed out already and is actually permitted. Avoiding pregnancy is not evil and is as simple as the married refraining from embracing in the marital act. No evil in it and in fact, is the ordinary means by which Christians are to space the births in their respective families out if necessary. A perfectly legitimate response a Christian can take to an authentic emergency situation in which marital relations need be avoided to avoid pregnancy. NOW FOR THE BAIT : The second sentence Paloma offers turned the means of avoiding pregnancy from something the Holy Father could affirm to something he cannot: the act of contraception but inferring that what she meant was a lesser evil than abortion, which a contraception device actually is. So, she could have meant a legitimate means in the first sentence, no problem in discussing this option at all thus far, but with the second sentence we find SHE MEANS something evil: contraception. So, there ya go – someone placing words in the mouth of the Holy Father and gleefully watching him chomp at the bait knowing full well the spin her comrades in the malicious press will apply before the plane reaches it destination! It sells papers to do so. Thus the motive for the love/hate relationship between the Holy Father and the Press as of late. SHE, Paloma is the one who turned the conversion to an unthinkable option for the parents in the Zika stricken segments of the earth and of course, the spin doctors could wait to tease us with the latest undoing of our Catholicism by our own Pope again. It is a bit too routine.
    Now Toadie, you are a thinking man. What can you say in the Pope’s defense? Is he simply unaware of the baiting method they use so well on him or is it something else? God bless. Ginnyfree.

  24. ginnyfree says:

    Good points Kathleen. Nicely done. Bravo, God bless, Ginnyfree.

  25. kathleen says:

    @ Toad

    That would be “love,” I suppose.

    It may indeed… Love often grows from friendship and affection. That in itself is something beautiful and wonderful, something to be treasured and kept pure and unsullied.

    Yet there are times when the love between a man and a woman can trigger off a physical attraction too, and then that could soon turn into lust for the other. True love for another person means always having the good of their immortal soul foremost in your heart, so naturally in such a hypothetical case as this, the best solution would be to distance yourself from anything that could lead to causing them any spiritual harm, wouldn’t it?

    (Do I really need to spell all this out to you, Toad? Sigh.)

    P.S. Thank you, Ginny.

  26. Michael says:

    Johnhenry @ 21:49, February 20th:

    Yes, I think perhaps our signals are crossed here! 🙂 Jimmy Akin’s piece, if not my quote from it, does (in part 6 of his commentary) address the question of the legitimacy of using contraceptives in case of rape, particularly in circumstances where there may be more danger of that occurring (such as the case in question here – the nuns in war-torn Congo). However, his main focus is what, if anything, this has do with the Zika issue in South America, which does involve conjugal relationships.

    Similarly, what I am getting at is that, given the situation in the Congo that Paul VI responded to was a very different one to the situation that the Holy Father was actually asked about, why did he mention the former at all? The journalist didn’t even use the word ‘contraception’ – that word was introduced to the conversation by Pope Francis. Now, it is true he didn’t explicitly say that contraceptives could be used in the Zika case, but if so, why bring them up at all? It just throws a whole lot of confusion and controversy which need not have occurred. He could have just given a straightforward answer which states the Catholic position clearly, but alas, as on many other occasions, he responded in a way that plays right into the hands of those who are looking for soundbites suggestive of the Church’s lurching into a brave new world of liberalism.

  27. Michael says:


    1. Journalists do not put words into people’s mouths. They ask questions designed to elicit a particular kind of response yes, but they do not force anyone to say anything.

    2. Pope Francis is, or at least should be, perfectly capable of seeing any such traps laid for him. If he doesn’t feel comfortable in avoiding these snares, he shouldn’t give in-flight interviews. If he does feel comfortable with journalist probing (as I imagine he does – I personally would wish to give him a bit more credit than you do on this front) then he should be more careful about what he says and how he says it.

    3. The journalist in this question didn’t even use the word ‘contraception’ – it was brought up by the Holy Father himself, when he invoked a case in the Congo addressed by Paul VI. This was a case which has no bearing on the situation he was actually asked about, so one wonders why he mentioned it at all. Given that he did mention it, any confusion sown by talking about the use of contraceptives followed immediately by talk of ‘avoiding pregnancy’ in other cases, no matter how different, is the Holy Father’s own responsibility.

    4. Any pope has a duty of care to maintain unity within the Church and guide it with clear teaching on faith and morals. Giving interviews to people* that will use anything that sounds even remotely supportive of liberal agendas to stoke fires of dissent, and speaking ‘off the cuff’ on aeroplanes and other places is not really conducive to either of these objectives. This is far from the first time something like this has happened, and it is really not helpful.

    * Scalfari for instance.

  28. ginnyfree says:

    So, Michael, would you say Prudence is not the Holy Father’s greatest asset? Which make me also ask, what do you suppose is his particular charism? How does he help the Church in your eyes? Why did the Holy Spirit point to him in such a way that the Cardinals were moved to elect him? And how many faults can any prelate commit before you decide to withdraw you obedience to him or recommend that others do so as well? See. I know how to ask questions too. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  29. toadspittle says:

    This drivel about Machiavellian hacks ruthlessly trying to “bait,” the Pope into saying something he doesn’t mean – is just that – drivel.
    Michael is right. As usual.
    Earlier on here, prompted by the perennial, paranoid, CP&S persecution mania, it was suggested that journalists “invent” stories – presumably because they all “hate” the Church..
    Here’s a prime example of why they don’t need to.
    If people bothered to think about it for more than an instant..

  30. johnhenrycn says:

    Ginny (and Michael too): your position on the contraception issue as we’ve been discussing it the past 24 hours or so received some fairly persuasive support yesterday from Fr Zuhlsdorf on his blog. Another essay on point is found in Catholic World Report.

  31. ginnyfree says:

    I figured someone would clarify soon the “urban legend” of Paul VI defamatory words. Turns out Francis is only repeating a lie someone fed him and nothing more.

  32. ginnyfree says:

    oh and one other thing. Thanks to Father Z, I DO recall very vaguely some of the same stuff being said about St. John Paul II and the Bosnian religious too. Same stuff, different day.

  33. Robert says:

    Little point really in blaming the Holy Ghost.

    Question! What would St Peter have preached and taught?
    Question! Do these impromptu sessions start with prayers and blessings?
    Question! Are in flight refreshments blessed before taken?
    Question! Any evidence for the sacraments during/before/after these long flights?
    Question! Why would the Holy Ghost create two Popes in the middle of what is a massive Apostacy?
    Question! Who is arranging press conferences on papal flights with the secular press?

  34. Michael says:

    Ginny @ 17:28:

    Well, it certainly would not have been prudent of me to suggest that you don’t know how to ask questions, haha!

    In response to your queries, I will say that I do not know whether or not prudence is Pope Francis’ greatest asset or not; I have no idea what his particular charism is; I couldn’t possibly say for certain why a majority of cardinals felt moved to elect him*; and I have no intention of removing my obedience to him or any other pope.

    The salient point here is that it is possible to criticise someone’s actions without judging the state of their soul or making any claims regarding knowledge of their innermost motivations, strengths, weaknesses, etc – a point I have made to you many times here before.

    Moreover, it is possible to criticise the actions of a pope, or question the wisdom of his decisions, without rebelling against his legitimate authority. The flip side of this is that it is possible to be obedient to the office and person of the pope without treating everything he says or does as beyond criticism. You have cited a piece of canon law here (I forget which) many times, that supports the right of the faithful to call into question the actions of their superiors when they drift into the realms of the unsound (as it were); yet you are reluctant to ever exert this right with respect to the Holy Father – may I ask why?

    *During a papal conclave, whilst God is involved in the decision making process, to the extent that he is active within all of His creation and particularly within His Church (even amidst the bickering and double-dealing that goes on therein), the Holy Spirit does not in fact deliberately select or positively will the selection of any particular individual elected to the papacy. The charism of papal infallibility is indeed vouchsafed to a person after their election, but the actual election itself is not a direct work of the Holy Spirit.

    Sorry if you didn’t actually mean this in your comment about the Holy Spirit ‘pointing to’ Pope Francis during the conclave so that the cardinals were ‘moved’ to elect him, but I thought it worth clarifying just in case.

  35. Michael says:

    Johnhenry @ 20:37:

    I’m not sure how to make this any clearer, but I haven’t been arguing the rightness or wrongness of the use of contraceptives in the way that was attributed to Paul VI at all. I was merely pointing out that such a case (i.e.; potential victims of rape in the Congo, or elsewhere) was irrelevant to the actual situation that the journalist asked about, and therefore wondered why the Holy Father felt it necessary to bring it up.

  36. johnhenrycn says:

    Robert, forget all those silly questions. What I’d like to know is why would anyone want to frame your evil twin, Roger, instead of just killing him:

  37. johnhenrycn says:

    “I was merely pointing out that such a case (i.e.; potential victims of rape in the Congo, or elsewhere) was irrelevant to the actual situation that the journalist asked about, and therefore wondered why the Holy Father felt it necessary to bring it up.”

    All I can say, Michael, as I said above, is that is his style – to wander down roads less travelled. But to be fair to the best pope we’ve ever had since Benedict, I found his remarks on contraception vis-à-vis rape to be thought provoking, and I’m glad – thanks largely to you (19:07 Feb 19) – to have come across them.

  38. johnhenrycn says:

    “All I can say, Michael, as I said above, is that is his style…”

    We all have our individual styles – peccadilloes even. As Damian Thompson once said of me, when for a short time I was forced to assume the nom de guerre “Algonquin” whilst attempting – unsuccessfully in the end – to avoid being banned by the Daily Telegraph blogs:

    Ruthless David Cameron, poor old Phillip Blond, and …
    blogs.telegraph.co.uk > News > Politics > Damian Thompson > Nov 9, 2012 – “Anyway, to cut a long story short, Cameron and allies have worked out that this sort of guff, intended to win over thoughtful liberals, won’t work any better …. Many years ago, His Honour, Judge Costello, said of Algonquin: ‘He is prolix, but in his case it is a matter of style, not conduct’. Ontario Reports, 1984.”

    I’ve also been banned by the Catholic Herald and (over here) by the National Post; but life goes on, and I’m still allowed to comment on CP&S and a couple of other places.

  39. ginnyfree says:

    Why don’t I join in the all too popular habit of many media savvy Catholics today who feel a need to criticize the Holy Father, Pope Francis? I’m not really sure I have a deep answer other than I’ve never really made it a habit to scrutinize the works of the Holy See or the Pope. Maybe because when I came into the Church, under St. John Paul II, we had a Holy Father who was above reproach and those who did soon showed themselves unfaithful in other ways if I “watched” and listened to them shortly after. I thought perhaps the two had a common source/objective and I didn’t have that in myself at that time, nor did I want it. When Pope Francis was elected, I immediately noticed the difference between him and those two Popes I’d had previously and realized we didn’t have a Saint for the head of our Church anymore. Maybe he’d be sanctified by the trial by fire the Papacy can be for a man, and for this end I do pray, but I don’t see it happening as yet, though there have been fits and starts. That is what I said then, that we don’t have a Saint as a Pope anymore, but that I would pray. I seems I’m correct in that regard, unfortunately. Now, back to the answer to your simple question, why not criticize? Because it does no good and can do more harm to the faith of others than the actual off the cuff comments themselves. To err is human and to forgive is divine. He gives many the opportunity to aim towards divinity. Oh and for another simple reason, there are plenty of other folks all too willing to rant and rave every time Pope Francis does what he does so well – provoke controversial conversations among many persons of all stripes. For instance, yesterday I actually had a very brief conversation about Pope Francis supposedly approving contraception for Catholic nuns with two Jehovah’s Witnesses of all persons!!!!! Hello? See how far our stinky stuff flies? It does injury to enable it to do so. I had to apologize to them for this while at the same time trying to convince them that being a Catholic is God’s will for them. It is scandalous. To have to be side-tracked from authentic evangelization to having to explain such nonsense to these innocents grieves me. It detracts from both the Message and the Messenger, Jesus Christ. Scandal is not rewarded with Heaven and our Blessed Lord Himself gave a brief but stern warning regarding the future evangelization efforts of His disciples regarding the woe giving it is. Enabling the scandals to spread is not helpful. For some it is truly necessary to report to the world all that is necessary to report: the facts. But when otherwise good and faithful Catholics go on and on and on ad nauseum about all the little faux pas of the Holy Father, they do harm to others unawares. So, you see it is that reason most of all, the sadness I have seen when others are injured by all this criticism that holds me back from joining in the feeding frenzy. Wow, for a simple answer, this got kinda complicated, didn’t it? Nuff said. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  40. ginnyfree says:

    Michael, the answer to that question lies with the man himself.

  41. ginnyfree says:

    JohnHenry, wasn’t there a movie made about how to do that, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”

    Beware: never encourage bad behavior among rabbits.
    God bless. Ginnyfree.

  42. johnhenrycn says:

    Crikey, Ginny: They actually made a movie called that? Where do find this stuff?

  43. ginnyfree says:

    what does crikey mean?

  44. ginnyfree says:

    It scared me when I realized you and I were on the same page. I was looking for a clip BEFORE I saw you’d posted a trailer! Then I had a good laugh twice. Must be a movement of the Holy Spirit or something. Or Communion of the ain’ts and I do mean ain’ts; that is not a typo. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  45. johnhenrycn says:

    Crikey http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/crikey?s=t

    Nuff said. Okie Dokie. God Bless 🙂

  46. Michael says:

    Ginny @ 22:34, February 21st:

    Thank you for a very thorough response! If I get the gist of what you’re saying, you feel that a.) any criticism of the Holy Father is not worth the while, because it leads to more trouble than any comments he might make in the first place; and b.) his casual, imprecise way of communicating the Faith is actually beneficial, because it creates opportunities to talk about the Faith?

    I’m not 100% sure this is what you mean, because later on in your comment you say that the comments about contraception actually created more obstacles for your evangelisation efforts. What I find difficult to understand is that you attribute the ensuing confusion about contraception to either the media or people criticising the Holy Father’s comments, but not to the comments made by Pope Francis himself.

    This is what I don’t get I suppose – I understand a reluctance to publicly criticise popes in general, and agree that this can cause unnecessary scandal, but when a pope, whose job it is to teach with clarity and cultivate unity within the Church, not to provoke interesting discussions repeatedly makes comments that themselves generate confusion and controversy (this is another important point that I feel I must make again), it is not the same thing as a pope making a couple of ‘little faux pas’ is it? And in these circumstances, I think to refuse to proffer any critique at all, or even to act as if the ensuing controversy were other people’s fault and that the pope bore no responsibility for it himself, is strange.

    He gives many the opportunity to aim towards divinity.

    As to this, I really don’t know. I know that he’s very popular, and has made a lot of people feel that ‘now this is a Church I can relate to’ etc, but as to how many people he has actually drawn to Jesus and made them feel the need to repent and follow Him, I couldn’t say. The popularity of the person obscures the message a lot of the time for me personally, but that’s just me.

  47. Michael says:

    Ginny @ 22:39, February 21st:

    I don’t know what question you’re referring to here. It would be helpful if maybe you provided a quote or something, so I know what question you’re talking about.

  48. Michael says:

    Johnhenry @ 21:45, February 21st:

    All I can say, Michael, as I said above, is that is his style – to wander down roads less travelled.

    Well, I certainly agree – that very much is his style, no question. What I do question is whether this style does more harm than good in the long run, and whether it is appropriate to his office, given its central responsibilities.

    But to be fair to the best pope we’ve ever had since Benedict, I found his remarks on contraception vis-à-vis rape to be thought provoking

    Haha! He is indeed the best pope we’ve had since Benedict – I can’t argue with that! Re his remarks on contraception vis-a-vis rape, I do grant that that particular area of moral theology is interesting, but I just wonder why it was brought up at all, given that it didn’t bear on the situation at hand. Hagan lio, I suppose!

  49. ginnyfree says:

    Obviously Michael, you feel a great deal of need to continue and that is understandable. I don’t share your need. For one thing it is very time consuming to look up every day the latest from Rome, read and digest it and then find something useful to say about it. I have other things to do. The core of my own spiritual life is not the Pope, and the time I would need to give to following him and commenting on all he says and does and the reactions rippling through the media because of that could easily become a full-time job! I’m not the gal for that. It doesn’t pay.
    And, I must say there were a few gentle goads in this direction from you in that post. Nice try, but I won’t get myself drawn in. Pope Francis has said and done things that are controversial. This is true. He will continue to do so for as long as he is Pope, so in the future, I may comment again about something if I feel moved to do so. But as for a daily hack job, not my cup o tea. Go for it if you must. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  50. ginnyfree says:

    It was in response to your comment here: “Michael says:
    February 21, 2016 at 21:24
    Johnhenry @ 20:37:

    I’m not sure how to make this any clearer, but I haven’t been arguing the rightness or wrongness of the use of contraceptives in the way that was attributed to Paul VI at all. I was merely pointing out that such a case (i.e.; potential victims of rape in the Congo, or elsewhere) was irrelevant to the actual situation that the journalist asked about, and therefore wondered why the Holy Father felt it necessary to bring it up.”

    I guess I should start putting time and date on my responses so it is easier if there is a time delay. I’ll try to remember to do so in the future. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  51. toadspittle says:

    “Obviously Michael, you feel a great deal of need to continue and that is understandable. I don’t share your need. “
    Well, that’s that, then – isn’t it Gin Free Girl?
    Except. it won’t be. You will go on – and indeed you have done so – in two more comments already.

    “For one thing it is very time consuming to look up every day the latest from Rome, read and digest it and then find something useful to say about it. I have other things to do.”
    Then swiftly go about doing your “other things,” then [A moderator:The final two sentences were inappropriate]

  52. johnhenrycn says:

    GF: Thank you for that update by Dr Peters to his original post on the rape/contraception issue.

  53. ginnyfree says:

    Thanks Toad. Nice to have you at your grumpiest. Ribbit, ribbit. Remember when you couldn’t figure out what that meant? My how times have changed. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  54. Michael says:

    Ginny @ 12:10:

    Obviously Michael, you feel a great deal of need to continue and that is understandable. I don’t share your need.

    The reason I feel a need (not a ‘great deal of a need’ but just an ordinary level I’m afraid to report) to continue the debate with you Ginny is that I very often have a hard time following your line of reasoning, and want to establish what it is you’re getting at, as well as the underlying rationale for taking the positions you do. This is a discussion forum, and we were discussing the content of the post the commentary board is connected to – I don’t see anything strange about that. My persistence in questioning you, as part of this wider discussion, is because, to be frank, I haven’t been able to get a direct answer to any of the fairly straightforward questions I put to you.

    The core of my own spiritual life is not the Pope, and the time I would need to give to following him and commenting on all he says and does and the reactions rippling through the media because of that could easily become a full-time job!

    I hadn’t suggested that it was. Nor does answering a few simple questions on this particular topic necessitate the extraordinary amount of following and commenting you describe here.

    And, I must say there were a few gentle goads in this direction from you in that post. Nice try, but I won’t get myself drawn in.

    If you mean the bits I italicised and put in bold (not sure what else you could have taken as a ‘goad’), then I’m sorry if you saw these as jabs at you personally, or attempts to provoke – this was certainly not my intent. My emphasis in these cases was because I wished to draw attention to an area in which I’d repeatedly tried to focus our discussion, but without prior success.

    Pope Francis has said and done things that are controversial. This is true. He will continue to do so for as long as he is Pope, so in the future, I may comment again about something if I feel moved to do so. But as for a daily hack job, not my cup o tea. Go for it if you must.

    So, finally you admit that Pope Francis has said and done controversial things, and linked to Ed Peter’s piece which basically says, albeit with a lot more eloquence and concision, what I’ve been trying to say to you the whole time. So why describe my position, implicitly, as that of a ‘daily hack job’, and why have you spent this entire discussion trying to absolve the Holy Father of any responsibility for things he freely said, and the nature of which were themselves controversial? It’s precisely this sort of thing that makes me feel the ‘need’ to continue.

  55. Michael says:

    Ginny @ 12:13:

    Yes, times/dates, or quoting what you are responding to, is very helpful, particularly if you are responding to a comment I directed towards someone other than yourself (in which case I will be especially unlikely to realise what it is you’re talking about).

  56. Michael says:

    P.S. Substitute ‘what it is you’re talking about’ for ‘what you’re referring to’ in my last comment Ginny. Just read that last bit back and it sounded a bit harsh, which it wasn’t meant to be – was meant to be a literal description of the usefulness of quoting, dating, etc given the wide range of comments here from many different people.

  57. ginnyfree says:

    Then go for it Michael. Yak it up! But I won’t always respond. I’ve got time restraints. God bless. Perhaps you could apply for a job at Church Militant. They do a lot of complaining about a bunch of stuff. Ooooops. I forgot. They don’t allow complaints about the Holy Father though, so you won’t have an audience there I’m afraid. Maybe Catholic Answers Forums. Have you thought about going there? You could do some marathon complaining there and only occasionally have to come up for air and a shower ever now and again. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  58. ginnyfree says:

    Oh fudge I just forgot. Bah humbug. This computer is humbug and it needs a spell checker or edit feature. Grrrrrrrr………..

  59. ginnyfree says:

    The above two comments are in response to 21:42 and 21:44. Geeze loueeeeze. Does that work? Oh hell.

  60. johnhenrycn says:

    Well yes, of course Michael: God bless GinnyFlexion and the USA and all that, but as for your 12:13 comment, my reaction was that it should have ended: “…what it is you’re on about”, which is harsher still. I’m still ploughing through her missive at 22:34 (21 Feb) to see whether she managed to use the letters “Q” and “X”. I did find “Y” and “Z”, thank God.

  61. johnhenrycn says:

    Sigh…I meant your 22:29 comment, Michael. It doesn’t seem to matter how careful I am; sometimes I still end up resembling that Toledo Blade hack, what with the number of mistakes I make. How he ever got hired as an actual editor [Classifieds] is a mystery.

  62. johnhenrycn says:

    GinnyFlexion at 22:32 says – “Then go for it Michael. Yak it up!”

    Some may be nonplussed to learn GF says Michael’s a Pope basher:

    “Yes, I had a nice little chat with a few over at CP&S about all this. Dr. Peters and Father Z pretty much cleared it up. But a few still want to cling to their spin on things. I invited the one fella here, but he won’t come cause he can’t bash the Pope here. That’s too bad. He might learn a few things. Maybe he’ll come and just not mention the Pope except in a favorable light. Goes to show, some never let the facts get in the way of a good story. God bless. Ginnyfree.”

    So far (midnight) that comment by our Appalachian hillbilly correspondent has one vote from a guy called “More Tea Vicar”, who’s from north-west England, who favours a cheap brand of tea (King Cole) and who admits he has autistic tendencies. Nuff said. Ginny is a good person with many good qualities and she gives Rogerbert a good run for his money here in the chuckles department. I can’t wait to hear what she says on this blog when the sun comes out ♬Tomorrow♬ 🙂

  63. toadspittle says:

    “I still end up resembling that Toledo Blade hack, what with the number of mistakes I make. How he ever got hired as an actual editor [Classifieds] is a mystery.”
    True, I do make too many errors (and not only on screen. I also fall down steps) JH.
    There are two main reasons.
    1: My eyesight has become very much poorer, over the last few few months.
    2: I’m stupid, careless and lazy. That’s why I had to take a job as an editor.
    I’d sooner have been an ambulance chaser, I agree. Anyone would. Far more social status.
    Though, like any other romantic, what I’d most like to have done was to play the piano in a brothel.

  64. Michael says:

    Ginny @ 23:22, February 22nd:

    Hmm, what to say? First of all, I’m overwhelmed by your charity – thank you for the kind invitations…

    Strange enough as it may be for you to consider, I have some ‘time restraints’ as well. For some reason you seem to think that my comments take up an inordinate amount of time to type, whereas your own do not – that, to me, is rather puzzling. Also puzzling is the continued insistence to avoid engaging with the questions I raised, and your resorting to odd jibes about my being some kind of professional complainer – as I said, this is a forum for discussion, where points are debated as a matter of course, and differences of opinion are expressed all the time; why you seem to think that when I disagree with you this is some kind of special case, deserving of your ‘goads’ (oh the irony) is beyond me.

    Anyway, thanks to johnhenry, I see that you have extended your complaining about my being a complainer/pope-basher* over at the very place you suggested I visit (i.e.; Church Militant – a place where I presume no one has every questioned anything Pope Francis has said or done ever). Again, in this instance, you put down my own position** after affirming the points outlined by Fr. Z and Ed Peters, points which are in essence the same as I have been making. When they say it, it clears things up; when I say it I’m clinging to my ‘spin’ on things – bizarre. Well, ta ta for now.

    *Still no wriggle room on this I see – all questioning/criticism is firmly lumped under ‘bashing’. That’s cleared that up.

    **Charming by the way, really charming; especially from someone who feels so little need to respond to what I write that you’ve now done so on two separate commentary boards.

  65. johnhenrycn says:

    You know, I hope, Toad, that I’m sort of fond of you. Sort of. And I really am sad about your vision problems. My son, on account of medical problems, finds it difficult to read for long periods of time. He now prefers “pod-casts”. I wonder what Helen Keller would have thought of them?
    oops. Forgot that Helen Keller was deaf, as well as blind.

  66. Michael says:

    Johnhenry @ 05:40:

    Many thanks for alerting me to that odd comment of Ginny’s over at Church Militant. As regards the rest of your recent comments, they provided me with a hearty chuckle as always, so ta for that as well!

  67. Michael says:

    P.S. Minus the very recent comment of yours of course, which I’ve just seen, and which is of a much more serious note. Regarding Helen Keller, and her incredible life story, have you ever read Lost in the Cosmos by Walker Percy? He uses her example to make some very insightful points about the uniqueness of human language.

  68. mmvc says:

    Ginny @ 23.22, why resort to snootiness and sarcasm when you run out of arguments? It really spoils an otherwise constructive discussion. What a shame!

  69. ginnyfree says:

    John Henry at 5:40 Best tea on the planet is Yorkshire Gold but you must use loose stuff to make it right. PG Tips used to be good but their quality is slipping a bit. It isn’t as good as it used to be. Perhaps their popularity has done them in. Got the time stamp stuff right I think. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  70. toadspittle says:

    The best tea on the planet is Russian.

  71. johnhenrycn says:

    Michael (09:34) – Lost in the Cosmos looks intriguing and I’ve ordered it. Best.

  72. kathleen says:

    Apologies for chipping in a bit late here on the recent unfounded accusations aimed at Michael, but they are so waaaay off-track and so bizarre that I’d like just to add my own two cents…

    Not only is everything Michael says about this topic 100% accurate, based on all the evidence at our fingertips, but it is also edifying and charitable. “Charitable” not only to the pope (who he does not “bash” in the slightest, referring only to his words) but to all who want to be better informed on how to deal with the problem of our Vicar of Christ making such confusing (some say bordering on heretical) statements.

    Sincere thanks Michael, from moi, and all who gain so much from your informative comments.

  73. Michael says:

    Johnhenry @ 02:06:

    An excellent choice – I hope you enjoy. On another slightly unrelated note, you noted here the other day the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, and so thought you may appreciate the following reflection on his contribution to American jurisprudence (though there is a good chance you have read it already, given that I think you now read TIC fairly regularly yourself):


  74. Michael says:

    Kathleen @ 11:05:

    Many thanks for your comments here – they are, as always, very kind and extremely generous! 🙂

  75. ginnyfree says:

    Oh? Cough up the brand Toadie or you’re just a Toad. I might get some on line and see if you’re right.

  76. toadspittle says:



    I called it Russian, though we get it from Paris (France.)
    Russian style, I think.

  77. ginnyfree says:

    Oh yummy! Looks good. Thanks a bunch. I’m in for a treat, but I’m skeptical of it beating out Yorkshire Gold. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  78. toadspittle says:

    Toad must warn Ginny that Kusmi tea bears no resemblance whatever to the floor-sweepings imbibed, and presumably “enjoyed,” by the canaille of The North.

  79. ginnyfree says:

    Well, excuse me Toad. I’m a little particular about my tea. Seems I went to their site and they are very proud of their teas. In fact, they show you what the contents of the little tins looks like when you click on it, but there were thingys in the tea! Little bits n pieces of thingys! They claim these little bits n pieces of thingys flavor the tea with the greatest of painstaking recipes for thingy flavored tea. I don’t want thingy flavored tea! I like mine strong and dark and sometimes a little reddish that tells me the devil himself used his tail to stir the pot a little. Ugh. Thingys in my tea. Outrageous! I bet they have few flies in there too just to keep a toadie happy. I did find a brew that might suit. We’ll see. Fly flavored teas indeed. Figures its Russian. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  80. Pingback: All creatures great and small | Ze F Word

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