Perhaps you are aware of Pope Francis’ ‘controversial’ interview, published a few days ago. It has elicited some sensational headlines in the mainstream press. Here’s a few examples:
- The New York Times: Pope Says Church Is ‘Obsessed’ With Gays, Abortion and Birth Control
- The Independent: Pope Francis: Church’s ‘obsession’ with gays, abortion and contraception means it risks ‘falling like a house of cards’
- The Age: Pope bluntly faults church’s focus on gays and abortion
This coverage, which is widespread and typical, is not only misleading, but also flat out wrong. If you want to know what Pope Francis really said, America Magazine has the complete and official translation. Next best (and faster to read) are good commentaries: if you don’t mind polemics, you can’t go past Father Zuhlsdorf; if thoughtful exposition is more your thing, I recommend Robert Moynihan.
But, quite apart from correcting the record, I think there were lots of faithful Catholics, all over the world, facepalming Pope Francis last week.
There are other times too, when Pope Francis could be facepalmed. Remember when he said that gay priests are a-okay?
But Francis has nothing on his predecessor, who was the king of facepalms. Remember when Pope Benedict said that gay marriage is a greater threat to mankind than global warming?
Remember when he said that female ordination is a crime in the same realm as clergy abuse? And when he said that Mohammed was evil and inhuman?
Of course, neither pope said any of these things — it’s just the way the press reported it. But come on popes! Can’t you get media savvy? Someone in your press office should see these things coming!
Actually, I think Pope Francis is media savvy. He knows his words will be twisted, in the same way that Pope Benedict’s words were twisted. But he’s crafting his words so that they get twisted in a more constructive way. In a way that at least has some semblance with the Gospel.
The Anchoress has a great post illustrating this point: Francis confounds the Associated Press.
And Egregious Twaddle has crafted a parable demonstrating the same:
A pope went out to give an interview. And as he talked, some of his words fell to the media, and those birds gobbled them up before they could even be heard.
Others of his words fell to those who didn’t understand his context. They received his message with joy, but the first time it occurred to them how difficult it would be to live by those words, their enthusiasm withered like seedlings in a drought.
Have faith in Pope Francis. He knows what he is about.