PopeNews, Whiplash Edition

by Stephen White

Yesterday, in Pope News, we learned that Pope Francis, like his successors, thinks that the Church’s moral teachings make the most sense when securely rooted in the truth about the human person as revealed in Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word. “It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.” Uprooted from the fullness of the Good News, the Church’s moral teachings can easily appear, as Francis said, “a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.”

Thus, “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. . . . But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context.”

Then the pope’s call to understand and proclaim the Church’s moral teachings within their proper context was promptly taken out of context. Which gave us, among other things, this bit of cognitive dissonance.

Today in Pope News, we hear this (from Rorate Caeli, via Catholic World Report):

Each one of us is invited to recognize in the fragile human being the face of the Lord, who, in his human flesh, experienced the indifference and loneliness to which we often condemn the poorest, either in the developing nations or in the developed societies. Each child that is unborn, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ, bears the face of the Lord, who, even before he was born, and then as soon as he was born experienced the rejection of the world. And also each old person and—I spoke of the child, let us also speak of the elderly, another point! And each old person, even if infirm or at the end of his days, bears the face of Christ. They cannot be discarded, as the “culture of waste” proposes! They cannot be discarded!

Pope Francis said that. He also said this: “Bear witness to and disseminate this ‘culture of life’ . . . remind all, through actions and words, that in all its phases and at any age, life is always sacred and always of quality.”

That’s not a retraction of what we heard yesterday. That’s not even a clarification. Pope Francis is simply practicing today what he preached yesterday: In the proper context, the Gospel context, we discover most vividly the sacredness of life.


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