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The Whole Story of Pope Francis’ Interview: Anti-women, Anti-gay, Contempt for Sex Abuse Victims, Support for Putin, Refusal to Face the Argentines and US Politics

If anyone needs an example of how the corporate media can manipulate and pervert public opinion, they could look no further than how the in-flight interview with Pope Francis has been reported. Indeed, they should study the U.S. media’s misrepresentation of this pontiff since the day he was elected.

Zika virus

Pope: “Abortion is to throw someone out in order to save another. That’s what the Mafia does … You kill one person to save another, in the best case scenario. Or to live comfortably, no?  On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, or in 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.”

While saving a woman’s life is condemned as “what the Mafia does,” the pope reiterated the position of the Catholic Church that birth control is acceptable.

When talking about avoiding pregnancy in connection with the Zika virus, the pope may not necessarily have been implying artificial contraceptive use, but may have been referencing Natural Family Planning, Dr. Melissa Moschella, a philosophy professor at The Catholic University of America, said. …

Moschella also explained that in the Africa case referenced by Pope Francis, the dispensation for the nuns was “not really an exception if you understand the rule.”

The case in question took place in the early 1960s, when the Vatican granted a dispensation to religious sisters living in the Belgian Congo who were in grave danger of rape due to civil unrest to use oral contraceptives.

“In the case of rape, the person who’s raped – from the moral perspective – has not engaged in a sexual act,” Moschella said. Rather, rape is an act of violence and a “violation of the woman’s body without any free choice or acceptance on her part.”

The larger question is whether the pope’s off-the-cuff remarks will be persuasive in Latin American countries where “women are seen mainly as child-bearers and mothers. Such discriminatory stereotypes remain deeply rooted in a conservative and patriarchal culture which still relegates women to the sphere of social reproduction – a culture widely promoted … by conservative forces including the Catholic Church hierarchy,” according to an Amnesty International report.

_____

Same-sex unions 

“Pope Francis has not failed to speak out against the law on civil unions , in the midst of this struggle in the Italian Parliament.” In a speech in Mexico, he made his “umpteenth his jab against ‘ideological colonization,'” pope-speak for his opposition  to same sex marriage.

While Pope Francis has not spoken directly about the Italian legislation, “Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has told the Catholic Church to butt out of the debate on providing gay couples with legal recognition and limited adoption rights,” specifically the Italian bishops’ conference.

However, in this on-flight interview Pope Francis did say:

“Every Catholic parliamentarian must vote according their well-formed conscience. … I remember when matrimony for persons of the same sex was voted on in Buenos Aires and the votes were tied. …  And, the other said: ‘I prefer to give it to Kirchner and not Bergoglio.’ 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.”

The Catechism states that homosexual acts are a “grave depravity.” Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, later Pope Benedict XVI – added in 1997 that even the homosexual “inclination” is “objectively disordered.”

So, unlike the Church’s position on abortion and contraception, this is something Pope Francis CAN change anytime he wants, but he won’t.

_____

Question to the pope: “The subject of pedophilia … 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?”

The pope didn’t answer the question of why he refused to meet with victims in Mexico. Instead he said: “A bishop who moves a priest to another parish when a case of pedophilia is discovered is a reckless man and the best thing he can do is to present his resignation. Is that clear?”

Again through his words and lack of action, the pope is giving the green light to prelates around the world that they will not be removed from office for aiding and abetting sexual assaults against children. Rather, the pope said he is strengthening procedures against priests: “I decided to name a third secretary adjunct for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to take charge solely of these cases [and forming] an appeals tribunal.”

Pope: “Another thing that is working very well is the commission for the protection of minors.” Yes, because the only member who was an outspoken critic of the pope was booted off earlier this month.

_____

Pope’s support of Putin

Question to the pope: “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. I read the interview (by) Schevchuk …”

Sviatoslav Shevchuk  is the major archbishop for the five million Greek-Catholics, an Eastern rite of the Roman Catholic Church. “Today the accusation that falls upon Pope Francis is that he is pro-Russian. And the latest of many proofs of this would be the joint declaration he signed with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow on February 12 at the Havana airport:” Shevchuk: “Many contacted me and said that they feel betrayed by the Vatican, disappointed by the half-truth nature of this document, and even see it as indirect support by the Apostolic See for Russian aggression against Ukraine.” The archbishop of Kiev agreed wth these sentiments of his faithful in an extensive interview published Sunday, February 14 in Ukrainian and English on the official website of the Greek-Catholic Church.

(“Paragraph 26 of the declaration asks Christians in Ukraine to ‘refrain from taking part in the confrontation,’ which could be viewed as discrediting opposition to Russia’s invasion. Paragraph 27, which says ecclesiastical disputes should be settled by ‘existing canonical norms,’ could imply that Ukrainian Orthodox who want independence need Moscow’s permission. Critics also worry that the Vatican may be lending credibility to Putin’s claim to be the great defender of persecuted Christians, when his policy is more about realpolitik than religious conviction.”)

The meeting between the pope and Kirill “could not happen without a green light from President Vladimir Putin. ‘There is no doubt the Kremlin took part in making this decision,’ said Gleb Pavlovsky, a political analyst and former Kremlin adviser in Moscow … In 2013, Moscow was pleased after Francis opposed [President Obama’s] proposed U.S.-led military intervention in Syria, a key Russian ally,” in response to Assad’s chemical warfare attacks on civilians.

“At the moment, Russia’s diplomatic situation is isolated … Many in the international community oppose Russia’s strong support for Syrian president Bashar Assad.
Facing this diplomatic isolation, Russian president Vladimir Putin met with Pope Francis in Rome two times in three years: in November 2013 and in June 2015 … In the end, ‘the meeting between Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis shows that Russia is open, and that the pope is close and sensitive to Russia.’”

“Putin exulted over Barack Obama’s refusal to topple the Shiite regime in Damascus, and the Christian Churches in Syria breathed a sigh of relief as well, having in the despot Assad a self-interested protector.
Today the Holy See’s position on the chessboard of the Middle East is not neutral, but decidedly biased. And it is all the more so since Putin, declining to strike the Islamic State, has reinforced his leadership role with the pro-Assad Shiite front, in what large segments of the Russian Orthodox Church are calling a ‘holy war.’”

The pope’s response to the question: “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. … 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. … Pardon, it’s debatable on this question of Ukraine.”

(I strongly suggest that those who are interested in this and the other matters in this blog read the entire interview here.)

_____

Argentina

Question: “Holy Father, when are you going to go to Argentina? Or go to China?”

Pope: “China. (laughs) To go there. I would love that.”

“The world looks to this great wisdom of yours,” the pope told China’s Xi Jinping.  Francis “urged the world not to fear China’s growing power and conveyed a message of friendship” to the president in an interview published Feb. 2.

Pope Francis refused to mention Argentina. As seen in his response about whether a legislator should side with the Pres. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner or himself, cardinal primate Jorge Mario Bergoglio was known as a fierce opponent of  progressive government. Additionally, Argentines know the truth  about Bergoglio and the Dirty War. While Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI took victory laps in the native countries soon after ascending to the Throne of St. Peter, Pope Francis just made his fourth trip to Latin America without stepping foot in his homeland.

____

Trump v. Pope

As has been widely reported, the pope said that someone who would build a wall is not Christian and Trump responded that it was “disgraceful” for the pontiff to question his faith. Both sides have walked back their criticism. Trump said during a CNN town hall that he likes the pope and what he represents. “I don’t think this is a fight,” Trump said. Official Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi said that the pope’s comment “in no way was a personal attack, nor a voting indication.”

But it sure was. Since Pope John Paul II’s alliance with Ronald Reagan, the Catholic Church has been an ardent supporter of the Republican establishment. Although initially that meant support for Jeb Bush in 2016, Church officials will have no trouble getting behind Marco Rubio.

Rubio has renewed his opposition to abortion and promised to strip funding from Planned Parenthood if elected. He also said pastors, bakers, and florists shouldn’t be penalized for refusing to participate in a same-sex marriage.

In November, Rubio “hired Eric Teetsel as his faith outreach director and has been focusing more on his religion in stump speeches.”

Teetsel was the executive director of the Manhattan Declaration and earlier “was given the opportunity to learn from notable thinkers [like] Michael Novak.” Teetsel worked in Novak’s American Enterprise Institute. Theocon Novak and AEI were foundational in the artificial construction of the Religious Right.

When they lost the 2008 presidential election, according to the New York Times, in September 2009 “about 60 prominent Christians” and “more than half a dozen of this country’s most influential Roman Catholic bishops” met. At the center of the event was Robert P. George, a Princeton University professor of jurisprudence and a Roman Catholic who is “this country’s most influential conservative Christian thinker.”  That group produced the “Manhattan Declaration,” a “strategy for war” in which – in addition to the usual pro-life and pro-marriage rhetoric – stated that the signers “affirm religious liberty.” “Religious liberty” has remained the Religious Right’s battle cry to this day in the war against Obamacare and “freedom” to discriminate against the LBGT community.

 

(Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America.)

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4 Responses

  1. Betty reads between the lines, goes beyond the sound bites to reveal the real Francis. From Francis’ true positions, conservatives in the RCC increasingly have less a problem in supporting Francis till the next papal election where one of their own will be picked. As a result, RCCs in developed countries continue to leave in large numbers. Francis has been unable to staunch them. They, like Betty, see behind the sound bites.

    • Thanks for your comments. Yes, Catholics have voted for this pope with their feet.

  2. This is a very valuable effort. Thanks for keeping us aware of the Pope’s “intentions.” So many of us from Protestant traditions have been pleased with what we have heard of Francis and hoping for the very best.

    The world needs the very best. Many of us have put aside our profound concerns and reservations about his presence on the scene
    during the general’s horrible crimes against the children of the Argentine…almost an entire generation!

    He seems to have been aware but limited his actions to prayers and supplications. We continue to weep for those dear parents.

    Someday the judgment will come! Red gowns and mitres will not likely be sitting on the bench and will not have much of the calculating and contrived wisdom of a Scalia, the apostle of “orignalism!”o

    Was this the “Scalia gambit” to hold the line while really seeking a return to canon law medieval thinking of the 15th century?rs…spare of us of the syrupy

    What a very clever fellow! Now… all commentators…spare of us syrupy recitations about the friendship of Scalia and Ginsburg!

    • Bergoglio did more than pray during the Dirty War. By his words and actions, he facilitated the kidnapping and torture of two priests under his “care” as Jesuit provincial. Also, while provincial, his Jesuit university awarded an honorary doctorate to Admiral Messara who ran the primary torture and death center of the government.

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