Thursday, September 3, 2015

Is the Pope a Catholic?

One has to wonder at some people. They will say the most ignorant things that one wonders if their ignorance is as real as it seems or if there is something deeper and darker beneath it. Take the claims about the Pope for instance which have been increasing in bizarrairty (a new word?) recently.  There seems to be an effort being made to paint him as some sort of AntiChrist.

OK, that might sound extreme but there is an entire chorus of non-Catholics who write for newspapers, blog and make videos condeming Popes in general and this current chap in particular. They consider the 'Church of Rome' (actually the Church established in 33AD by Christ, and to be spread throughout the World) to be the Great Whore of Babylon.  These deluded souls seem to enjoy and revel in a most anti-christian attitude.

The Pope can barely open his mouth without someone shoving a foot in it.  Anyone's foot will do, boots and all. You have to hand it to Henry 8th for his spin-doctor choices. The myths and calumnies have not diminished with time. The protesters gates opened. There is a fire down below that keeps the heat at the Catholic soles. But it is the Church that has and will prevail. We are on a Promise.

Last year, for instance, the headlines were ablaze with the claim that the Pope had dubbed an evil man and a terrorist of the worst order, an 'Angel of Peace'. Supposedly the Pope had been 'praising The 'Palestine' President, Mahmoud Abbas. 

He had not.

Of course.

The Brinkman put that one straight, although I doubt many heard him. So hear him again.
Pope Did NOT Call Palestinian President an Angel of Peace
Once again, the media’s haste to further their own agenda has caused them to misquote a comment made by Pope Francis during a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in which he supposedly referred to the president as “an angel of peace”.
Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register is setting the record straight about comments supposedly made by Pope Francis during a meeting with President Abbas that were published by various news outlets such as the Associated Press, AFP, Reuters, the New York Times, etc. 
These outlets reported that the pope called Abbas an “an angel of peace” when he visited the Vatican on Saturday in preparation for the canonization of two Palestinian women on Sunday.
“The news caused consternation in Israel,” Pentin reports. 
As it would and as the misreporting was designed to do. 
“An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman responded by alluding to the Palestinian leader’s actions that run contrary to peace. Others pointed out that Abbas is certainly no angel of peace having long been accused of helping to finance the Munich Olympic massacre in 1972 and his close ties to former PLO leader Yasser Arafat.”
However, upon further investigation, it turns out that the Italian media reported the story correctly. For instance, according to La Stampa, after the pope gave Abbas a medallion with the figure of an angel of peace, Francis said: 
“The angel of peace destroys the evil spirit of war. I thought about you: may you be an angel of peace. 
The same article mentioned that the Pope called Abbas a “man of peace” during his visit to the Holy Land in 2014, the same title he awarded to Israeli President Shimon Peres during the same visit.
Diplomacy is a fine line biz. 
Other Italian outlets, such as Il Giornale and TuttoperLei, also reported the exchange correctly.
“This may have been a simple translation error: the exchange will have been reported back by two or three journalists who were part of the press pool to other reporters in the Holy See press office. They will have relayed the information in Italian, so native speakers might have been more likely to have reported it accurately,” Pentin said.
But others believe the press’ record of misreporting could mean the latest incident was intentional.
“The misreporting is especially regrettable as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu already felt sidelined by not being invited to last year’s peace summit in the Vatican Gardens,” Pentin said. Former Israeli president Shimon Peres represented Israel instead during that meeting.
Abbas remained in Rome and attended the canonization of Saints Mariam Baouardy (aka Mary of Christ Crucified) and Marie Alphonsine Danil Ghattas.
So, it is easy enough to mis-hear, mis-read and mis-report. But that ease provides a cover for malicious calumny too.

That was last year. Now we have more mischief this week. 

God forgives women who have had an abortion. It seems. There are conditions attached of course.

'Twas always thus.

Popes and Priests can forgive the ladies too, despite the protestants protesting. Christ gets misrepresented too. He made it very clear, according to St John and St Matthew et al.
During his life, Christ forgave sins, as in the case of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1–11) and the woman who anointed his feet (Luke 7:48). He exercised this power in his human capacity as the Messiah or Son of man, telling us, "the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" (Matt. 9:6), which is why the Gospel writer himself explains that God "had given such authority to men" (Matt. 9:8). 
Since he would not always be with the Church visibly, Christ gave this power to other men so the Church, which is the continuation of his presence throughout time (Matt. 28:20), would be able to offer forgiveness to future generations. 
He gave his power to the apostles, and it was a power that could be passed on to their successors and agents, since the apostles wouldn’t always be on earth either, but people would still be sinning. 
God had sent Jesus to forgive sins, but after his resurrection Jesus told the apostles, "‘As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them,Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’" (John 20:21–23). (This is one of only two times we are told that God breathed on man, the other being in Genesis 2:7, when he made man a living soul. It emphasizes how important the establishment of the sacrament of penance was.) 

I hope that is clear enough. 

Now to abortion and the misrepresenting of the Pope and Catholic doctrine. Damien Thompson showed us his piece in the Spectator yesterday.
Do NOT be decieved.
The Times on Pope Francis and abortion: 
the worst piece of religious reporting ever?
The headline on page 33 of today’s Times reads: ‘Repent and we will forgive abortions, Pope tells women’. 
It’s a bad headline, because the Church already grants absolution to women who repent of their abortions. CNN did much better: ‘Pope Francis says all priests can forgive women who’ve had abortions’. 
(In fact, the Church teaches that God does the forgiving, but ‘priests can forgive women’ is OK as shorthand.)
Not quite accurate and neither is the assessment. However..... 
That said, headlines aren’t written by reporters, so you’d expect the Times article to set the record straight. On the contrary: Tom Kington, the author, ... 
litters his piece with ignorant misrepresentations of Francis’s ruling. 
When you consider what a sensitive subject this is, and that the Pope’s announcement has implications for a community of more than a billion people, that’s indefensible.
I’m going to fisk bits of his report. (Note to non-British readers: ‘fisking’ means interrupting a dodgy article with criticisms. It’s named after Robert Fisk, a British war reporter whose more, ahem, imaginative articles cry out for line-by-line exegesis.)
(Something you might notice is an occupation of Tavern-Keepers too) 
Vatican: Tom Kington
The Pope has ordered priests to pardon any woman who seeks forgiveness for past abortions as part of plans for his Holy Year starting in December.
No. The Pope can’t ‘order’ any priest to pardon any sin. As his statement makes clear, he is giving all priests the discretion to absolve the sin of abortion (of which more later). 
That’s how Confession works: priests must make a judgment as to whether the sinner has truly repented. 
Normally this is taken for granted, but the priest is entitled to withhold absolution and is more likely to do so in the case of serious sins.
His order … will spare women the normal punishment of excommunication if they have had a termination and marks another sign of his compassionate approach to sinners.
More misinformation. Anyone who has had or procured an abortion, unless they did so under duress, is automatically excommunicated – so long as they understood that abortion is a self-excommunicating offence. (Pretty important caveat there.) 
That hasn’t changed. Likewise, any woman properly absolved of the sin of abortion is no longer excommunicated. 
The complicating factor is that a priest must have the authority to lift the excommunication as well as forgive the sin. Most priests in the West have this authority, delegated by their bishop. 
In some dioceses, lifting the excommunication is still ‘reserved’ to the bishop. During the Holy Year, all priests everywhere can exercise the discretion (see above) to lift the excommunication along with absolving the sin.
The papal ruling has no limits – it does not matter when she aborted – but she must seek forgiveness during the Holy Year to be absolved.
Nonsense. Absolution for abortion and lifting of any excommunication will be available to every repentant sinner after the Holy Year, just as they were before. But – unless Francis decides to extend make the new arrangement permanent, which is possible – in those dioceses where the bishop previously had to give specific permission for the lifting of the excommunication, the old rules will apply.
I’m not nitpicking here. Kington’s statement that ‘she must seek forgiveness during the Holy Year to be absolved’ is misreporting, plain and simple, on a supremely delicate topic that ‘the paper of record’ doesn’t know the first thing about.
Then Kington decides to put his own spin on the Pope’s words:
However he drew short of saying that abortion was no longer a sin…
Drew short? Francis makes it perfectly clear that abortion is a grave sin. Indeed, the whole point of his relaxation of the ‘reserved’ rule (which generally doesn’t apply) is to tell people that God’s mercy is available to those who have committed the most serious sins imaginable.
Kington does quote a couple of people who know what they’re talking about, but far too low down in the article to negate the effect of his false claims. And his confusion continues until the last paragraph:
To be readmitted to the church, it is customary for the woman to be asked to perform some penance, such as making a pilgrimage, along with seeking absolution.
Uh? Any Catholic can tell you that absolution for any sin is nearly always followed by penance. As for asking women forgiven the sin of abortion to go on pilgrimage, it’s possible, but an experienced priest I consulted – who has granted absolution for abortion – said he’d ‘never heard of such a thing – it would be inappropriate given how traumatised these women already are’.
So there you have it: a culpably ignorant article in The Times, which since the great Clifford Longley left over 20 years ago has acquired a reputation for misreporting Catholic news stories. But never as badly as this.
Good. Well said, Especially that last bit. 

Such 'misreporting' is a Calumny.

 It is a Sin. 

Get thee to Confession.

But before you go, have a drink.

And a word for the weary: If you want to know anything about Catholics, ask a devout Catholic: a knowledgable one. For goodness sake do NOT seek the opinion of anyone who 'protests' against the Catholic Church. They will misrepresent. They have been brought up that way. In ignorance.

Remember the words of that famous sinner-gal, Mandy Rice Davies.... "Well they would say that, wouldn't they".

Some of them really will be simply ignorant: many though will be malicious. Some, like the media, misconstrue and misrepresent.

I have many non-Catholic friends. Lovely people and welcome in the Tavern and my life. Most are 'cradle protestants', just as I am a cradle Catholic. I listen to them profess their faith and many have a strong and vibrant Faith.  They are immersed in the faith their parents taught them. The Truth is clear and many diverge from it, parents and children, just as we all diverge from the opinions and practices of others. But if you want to understand Catholics, ask a knowledgeable Catholic. I generally like to listen to knowledgeable non-Catholics.

I Pray for all.

Whatever you do, subject the Media to skeptical critique.

And ourselves.



  1. Your faith does you credit, Amfortas.

  2. An excellent piece of fisking!

    It isn't just Catholics that come in for the twisted words treatment, other Christian denominations get the same treatment. The media likes to distort the 'Christian message', it suits a wider agenda.

    The Christian message is written clearly in 'The Handbook' for all who care to read it and think for themselves.

    1. The secular media is adept at distortion and agenda-leading. They have rejected the judeo-Christian virtues and engage in rank dishonesty.


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