During an address to a diocesan congress in Rome yesterday, Pope Francis was quoted as saying:
that some priests are “animals,”
that pastors should not be “putting our noses into the moral life of other people,” and
that the “great majority” of Catholic marriages today are invalid.
All of these shocking statements were attributed to the Holy Father by reliable journalists: experienced reporters who take pains to get things right, and usually do. Below I’ll address the important question of whether or not the quotes were accurate. But first let’s assess the damage done by the statements as they were reported.
In the 1st quote the Pope appears intemperate and uncharitable. He may disagree with priests who refuse to baptize the children of unwed mothers, but name-calling is ugly, and certainly beneath the dignity of the Petrine office.
In the 2nd quote the Holy Father seems thoroughly illogical, and/or dismissive of the entire Catholic moral tradition. Confessors and spiritual directors always “put their noses” into the moral lives of their people; good pastors and preachers do, too, albeit somewhat less directly. If the Church does not wish to be involved in our moral lives, why have any moral teaching at all?
With the 3rd quote, the Pope throws into question the validity of millions of marriages, and insults the Christian married couples who are working to fulfill their vocations. More than that—as Edward Peters explains—he suggests that there has been some fundamental change in human nature, since by nature any rational person is capable of entering into a valid (if not necessarily sacramental) marriage.
Who does this leave operating the spin machines?
George Weigel and Robbie George?
This article was on the top of my Pope Francis news feed. While the author sounds like a wounded and alienated soul, he's got some pretty astute observations.
This was a pretty big blunder. Maybe he'll give it a rest for a few days. LOL.