Friday, 17 March 2017

Is the pope a liberal?

ON HIS flight from Cuba to America, where he began a six-day visit on September 23rd, Pope Francis told journalists that he really was a Catholic. 

“If I have to recite the creed, I’m ready,” he joked. Yet there is some uncertainty about what the pope believes. In recent months, his pronouncements on issues from abortion to marriage have earned him a popular reputation as a reforming liberal. And in America, where such issues are fraught, the liberalism or otherwise of the Pope has generated headlines. 

Those who might be broadly described as liberal Catholics hope that the Pope will lend weight to their various causes; conservative Catholics, meanwhile, regret that he does not more vehemently uphold the teachings of the church, particularly on abortion and marriage. When it comes to social teachings and the church, is the pope a liberal?

He is not. Pope Francis could not have been appointed a bishop (of Buenos Aires), then an archbishop, then a cardinal, and certainly not the Bishop of Rome if he had not cleaved throughout his clerical career to the catechism of the Roman Catholic Church. But he has often given Catholics and his wider admirers a rather different impression. Particularly in contrast to the two popes before him, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, who stamped on any debate about the church’s rules, particularly those regarding sex, Pope Francis has suggested a softer interpretation of the rules is possible. He has used strikingly conciliatory language to speak of homosexuals, saying, “Who am I to judge?” in response to a question about gay priests. He has encouraged priests to absolve women who repent of having had abortions. And he has simplified the church’s complicated annulment process, in effect making it easier for Catholics to separate from their spouses. There is speculation, too, that he wants to lift a ban on Catholics who have been divorced and then remarried from taking communion.

But the pope has also opposed gay marriage, repeatedly affirming that marriage is between a man and a woman. He has upheld church teaching on abortion (allowing women to repent and be forgiven could hardly be described as laid back). And woven into his announcement of the annulment reform was a defence of the sanctity of marriage. Pope Francis has come nowhere close, in short, to altering any of the church’s core doctrinal or social teachings.

So why the ambiguity? There is no doubt that the way he often speaks signals a desire to shake off the church’s old preoccupation with personal morality. It is difficult to imagine Pope Francis saying, as Pope Benedict did, that homosexuality is “fundamentally disordered”. In a speech to bishops from around America on September 23rd, Pope Francis said that the bishops should not remain silent toward “the innocent victims of abortion”. But he appeared to give equal weight to other woes, from migrants “who drown in the search of a better tomorrow” to the degradation of the environment. That suggests a pope more engaged with modernity's complexities and dilemmas than his recent predecessors. But it does not make him a liberal.


I don't really know what to make of Francis.

I like some of the liberal sounds he makes.

But I sometimes think he is only a good PR man?

Of course he is a Jesuit. The Jesuits are good at being all things to all men.

Its better to judge people by their ACTIONS rather than by their words.

To date Francis has NOT DONE MUCH!


  1. Years ago, Tony Blair's government came up with an ominous soundbite on welfare reform: welfare policy would henceforth be 'compassion with a hard edge.'

    Pope Francis' approach to Church doctrine has echoes of Blair's soundbite: hard teaching presented with a compassionate edge. This is the only difference between Francis and his immediate two papal predecessors, the Pole and the ex-Nazi.

    Francis is NO liberal...but he's darned good at sounding like one.

    Francis is a consummate actor, at ease with his audience. And like all good actors, a skilled manipulator. He could, in fact, be fairly described as a 'Holy' Machiavelli. A closed book open.

    The paedophile-protecting adulterous Pole, and the paedophile-protecting homophobic ex-Nazi, had none of Francis' people and media skills. They were like Marmite: you either loved them or loathed them. (Guess which camp I'm in.). No hidden corners in this pair. What you saw was what you got. Not so with our Francis.

    When Francis, like all mortal flesh, eventually exchanges his gilded papal cross for a plain old heavenly crown, his legacy will continue to be debated, continue to tease the tiny minds (like 'Magna Carta (sic)') of Christendom. Which, when you come to think of it, would be odd, really, since Francis won't have a legacy. As Bishop P. said: Francis hasn't actually done much. But that's the genius of the man: all appearance (all potential promise), but absolutely no substance. The Grand Old Duke of York, in papal regalia and glory, leading his people...well, nowhere actually.

    But try telling tiny minds this.

  2. I'm not keen.

    1. Shooting your mouth off in front of journalists isn't helpful, particularly when so many lay Catholics and journalists think he Pope *is* the Church.

    2. His constant invocation of the Holy Spirit to justify his personal views is a bit narcissistic. Who knows what the Holy Spirit really thinks.

    3. He doesn't understand he seriousness of child abuse.

    4. I don't like showbiz prelates. There's a lack of humility there. But then I didn't care much for JPII either. I think Benedict came across as more humble, inspite of the ermine and the Prada slippers, which just goes to show if you ask me.

    5. Traditionalists think he is authoritarian and not, in fact, consensus building as he is presented. I'm not A traditionalist, but I don't think they should be needlessly provoked. His stripping out of Benedict's appointments however certainly isn't consensus building.

    6. He is old-fashioned in his own way - eg all the talk about Satan. An eminent Italian rabbi and scholar accused him a few days ago of returning to pre Vatican II anti-Judaism.

  3. Wonder if St Patrick was a liberal. Greetings of the feast day to one and all. The Pope I believe is like the Queen-very much a victim of the system of which he is apart

    1. The previous pope certainly was a queen :-)

    2. Pat would you ever cop the f... on. Pope Benedict has more intelligence in his excrement than you will ever have. You bitter little queen pontificating to others. You are a failed entity who marries tinkers.

    3. 11:01, he has never protected clerical paedophiles, though, has he? I'd say that shows not just considerable intelligence, but far greater moral decency.

    4. 11:01 Thank you for letting us know the quality of Benny's excrement :-)

      Are you an expert in that area?

      You are also obviously sensitive to the recent declaration by the Irish Government on Travellers being a Distinct Ethnic Community.

    5. 11.01 presents as frustrated and childlike. Use of swear words and toilet humour sometimes betrays one who is repressed and presented with situations they are unwilling or unable to change.

    6. Pat perhaps you should remove the 11.01 comment

  4. TBH I'm not that convinced About Patrick either
    I think most of his history is a myth or at best made up

    1. Much of Patrick is indeed myth - especially the contention that he was either consecrated or sent to Ireland by Rome.

  5. Happy feast day.

  6. The most ridiculous lie in the media is how the pope is a reformer with liberal traits. All popes have made changes and there are no signs of him doing anything about the growth of fundamentalist orders in the Church and the dreadfully creepy new Missal which is more medieval than the last one.

    Some liberals and gay people kid themselves that the Catholic Church is changing. People in the Middle Ages whose membership of the Church enabled the Church to butcher and burn heretics told themselves the same thing. Nevertheless even if they condemned the violence their mere membership of the Church made them complicit.
    The pope reaches out to "sinners" in the hope that they will change and fit the Catholic ethos or at least that they will be so soft on church violations of human rights that they will become complicit.

    Re Pope Francis December 2013

    The pope said of gays, "Who am I to judge?" I am tired of people thinking that is progress. It only reflects Catholic doctrine that gay people are sinners but only God can know exactly how sinful they are and will judge them accordingly. The pope merely meant he cannot judge not that gay people should not be judged and punished by God. In fact, people would be better off being judged by the pope as Jesus warned that God gives you an unfair judgement if you judge others unfairly. Media stupidity over this papacy is getting very very irritating.
    Regarding Gay Rights supporters praising Pope Francis for saying he does not judge gays and boasting how he is promoting their acceptance in the Church I have this to say. While some gay people suffer a fantasist episode that they are going to get proper acceptance by the Catholic Church, they make the Church attractive to others. And when these new recruits get a taste for Catholicism, and then find out that its teaching is intolerant and bigoted to the degree of saying that unrepented homosexuality deserves everlasting punishment in Hell, some of them will start to support that teaching. The pro-pope gays are enabling homophobia and are in denial where Catholic and papal homophobia are concerned.

    Pope Francis on violence against children, "“One time, I heard a father in a meeting with married couples say ‘I sometimes have to smack my children a bit, but never in the face so as to not humiliate them’,” Francis said.

    “How beautiful.” he added. “He knows the sense of dignity! He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on.”

    Pope Francis on women's inferiority to men so that they cannot be ordained priests, "The Church has spoken and says no. . . . That door is closed". He repeated the Church cannot ever ordain women in November 2016 because it is an objective fact that women cannot be ordained. Please note that if a woman becomes a man the man cannot become a priest so clearly the pope is being implicitly transphobic.

  7. Pope Francis promotes the extreme homophobia of denying any value in gay relationships, "as for proposals to place unions between homosexual persons on the same level as marriage, there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family." To refuse to support committed same sex love is far worse than praying for gays to be cured. And Francis has done nothing but enable Vatican attempts to "cure" gay men.

    1. No - a phobia is an irrational fear of something or someone. Having an opinion on marriage or the value of relationships is not homophobia or any other kind of phobia. However, the idea that you promote, 12:45, is that anyone who expresses an opinion that differs from the prevailing gay-agenda is a homophobe. This is completely false and irrational. Perhaps you are suffering from allodoxaphobia!?

    2. 17:54, denying that gay relationships have any value (as Francis does) is indeed an expression of homophobia, since it is not only irrational, but verifiably untrue.

      The puzzle is that Francis admitted to a gay former student of his that there was no room for homophobia in the Church. Francis is either blind to the moral inconsistency here, or is an out-and-out hypocrite.

  8. You mentioned yesterday ordaining deacons. Surely it is not a secret, who when where why Pat give us more information is your ranks swelling or the some other protestant ranks? I believe you should be on a recruitment trail Pat after all the work goes on when you are gone from this earthly piece of misery.

    What say you Pat I'd love to know about who is being ordained in Armagh as deacon, will they be priest, bishop, cardinal or Nun?.

    The wind needs to blow through the open windows Pat after all the Romans would rather destroy the "many who are called"

    1. Yes Pat please tell us about the deacons you ordained

    2. Both for USA Benedictines. To minister un US.

  9. +Pat the pope seems as you say to talk the talk now he's no youngster and certainly won't rock the boat. He I believe wants to reach out and stirring the emotional pool of those who are marginalized and smelling like dirty sheep. But honestly do you think its going to make a blind bit of difference what he says.
    His foot soliders just ignore him any and quoate whatever they see as the way. I am evident of that.

  10. There still seems to be a considerable amount of half-knowledge and confusion about what the Pope IS at liberty to change and what he ISN'T at liberty to change. That is how it is, folks.
    (--and absolutely no point in abusing me for saying it..)

  11. Hi Pat,

    Papal Nuncio in today's Irish Times on the ‘Very serious’ decline in number becoming priests in Ireland

  12. 16:49, your point is a good one.

    Pope Francis cannot legitimately change revealed truth, for example, the Ten Commandments. These are absolute rather than arbitrary, and are the bedrock of our faith.

    Subsidiary truths (those based on the Commandments, but deduced through knowledge and reason (and, hopefully, enlightment by the Holy Spirit) can and must be changed where knowledge or reason are somehow flawed. For example, the Church once taught that masturbation was not just an act of impurity, but an act of murder, since it was believed that the 'seed' of human life was contained in semem. 'Spilling one's seed' through masturbation (the sin of Onan) was morally judged not just a refusal to obey the divine command to procreate, but a destruction of human life itself. (Wombs were considered to be merely natural means of incubation.) This, of course, was never the case, but it is what was anatomically believed at the time.

    There are other subsidiary 'truths' that were never correct, but were nevertheless believed to be so. Homosexuality, for instance, was conventionally accepted as an excess of lust (not as a natural orientation) where males and females so driven could no longer be sexually satisfied by intercourse with someone of the opposite sex. This was wrong, too.

    Interestingly, even though Francis cannot legitimately change revealed truth, this has not stopped his predecessors from ignoring the Fifth Commandment, in order to justify morally such killing as capital punishment.

    1. (From poster originally at 16.49..)
      Thank you MC - - You get the point I was making and give some clear examples...
      The Pope on the day of his installation takes the detailed "Coronation Oath" and swears(as you mention--) to maintain in its fullness the body of revealed Truth. He knows clearly what is contained in it and what is not. The detail is lengthy..

  13. You know something
    I've lost interest in anything Roman, how could any Pope affect how I live
    I don't even think he or his other dressed up men are even Christian anymore
    Just look at his so called bishops here....allowing newborns to be thrown in a pit and honouring A hypocrite of a bishop who drove high powered cars under the influence

    1. Wonderfully insightful, 18:26, given that the only fact we know about newborns "thrown in a pit" is that there are unnamed human remains in a concrete tank in Tuam. Of course we wouldn't want to let the lack of known facts to get in the way of an opportunity to implicate every bishop in the country, would we? As for the pope or "his dressed up men" (priests and bishops presumably) not being Christian anymore, your comment about Bishop Casey seems quite devoid of Christianity - though, in fairness, you do not claim to be a Christian. Firstly, Eamon Casey was given a Catholic funeral, not a canonisation ceremony - is it not a Christian duty to pray for the dead? Eamon Casey - whether or not it was because he was caught - admitted what he had done and he apologised, exiled himself for several years, and afterwards lived a life out of the limelight - how Christian is it of you to refuse a penitent sinner. Hypocrite! Take the plank out of your own eye... (Mt.7:5)

    2. Exiled himself for several years?! Grow up. The asshole conveniently 'disappeared' until the dust of moral scandal had settled. Casey was a self-serving, self-aggrandizing moral coward who didn't give a fuck (well, he did on several occasions, with Annie Murphy) for anyone or anything except his bloated self.

    3. And another thing 21.05
      It's how we live our lives that we will be judged
      All this praying for the dead was another money collecting exercise.
      And all these decorations at Caseys Funeral.....flowing robes....utterly uncalled for.
      Simplicity in all things is how I would see it.
      Did Casey earn his living by the sweat of his brow
      I certainly did.

    4. Hawkins
      And. Thank god for that, the sooner they disappear the better
      There must be other ways for us laity to explore our faith without these self serving Men
      Time for a complete overhaul...there are other ways.

  14. 22.05
    Thank god I don't Have to listen to the likes of you preaching of a Sunday.
    Go and take the planks out of your own eyes