For the first time in recent history, good willed Catholic bloggers and lay apostolates are busy scrambling to charitably interpret the latest words of Pope Francis in a way that is in accord with Catholic teaching.
Why do they need to do this?
Because Pope Francis has a penchant for delivering theologically sloppy off-the-cuff remarks that appear to undermine standard teachings of faith and morality.
Some of these remarks like “Who am I to judge?” or “Atheists can be saved”, can be taken in an orthodox way, but they also have the appearance of contradicting it as well. Other remarks by the pope like Catholics shouldn’t “proselytize” or that contraception is morally permissible in certain circumstances are much harder (if not impossible) to rectify with Catholic teaching.
In fact, not surprisingly it seems that the majority of the world is taking his comments in a way that is discontinuous with Church teaching. As one Fox News contributor who wrote that Francis needs to resign, puts it:
His papacy has been a litany of confusing statements for the faithful on the most sensitive and delicate topics. While clear on political topics dear to his heart, but where Catholics can legitimately hold differing opinions, such as immigration, economics and climate change, on matters of doctrine, Francis muddied the waters to an extent that many well-meaning Catholics feel they no longer know where the Church stands on issues of faith.
Another poll shows Francis is gaining popularity with liberals and losing popularity with conservatives, showing that only 45% of American conservatives have a favorable view of Pope Francis.
And although charity would demand we take his comments in accord with Church teaching when we can, still, Pope Francis’ habitual ambiguity is itself problematic and harmful to the Church.
In our culture that is so enamored with relativism and so ignorant of sound philosophical and theological thought, it is patently imprudent to publicly say these sorts of things without offering clarification.
In this episode of Spiritual Combat, I’ll tell you why I think Pope Francis’ lack of clarity is scandalous and harming the mission of the Church:http://classicaltheist.s3.amazonaws.com/Francis.mp3