A new genre of papal speech

From John Allen:

While stressing the basic “trustworthiness” of a recent blockbuster interview with Pope Francis by Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari, Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, left room on Oct. 2 for the possibility of small imprecisions … Pressed by reporters on the reliability of the direct quotations, Lombardi said during an Oct. 2 briefing that the text accurately captured the “sense” of what the pope had said, and that if Francis felt his thought had been “gravely misrepresented,” he would have said so.

Predictably, the conservative papal apologists (let’s call them CPAs for short, no insult intended toward the accounting industry) are gloating, “Aha! I told you so!” as if we are now to believe that Pope Francis’ discourse with the atheist Scalfari, if only it had been quoted accurately, likely could have been mistaken for a transcript of St. Philip the Evangelist’s preaching to the Ethiopian eunuch.

What they necessarily gloss over in order to maintain the fairytale of a competent pope is Fr. Lombardi’s confirmation that the text as published in La Repubblica accurately captures the “sense” of Francis’ message. (Which explains why the pope apparently has no problem with the text being posted for the world’s consumption on the Holy See’s website!)

So, now that we can stop wondering whether or not this is the case, will the CPAs kindly offer a plausible explanation as to how one is to understand in a truly Catholic sense the novel notion of the Incarnation being intended to “infuse the feeling of brotherhood in men’s souls,” or any number of other items on the growing list of Papa’s humanist proclamations? (Operative word, plausible.)

No, I didn’t think so.

I suspect Eugenio Scalfari will have something to say in coming days about the accuracy of his account, and I’ll be interested in reading it. Even so, already we have a rather well-established, and very troubling, pattern:

– Pope Francis delivers, in either word or deed, a message that is difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile with Catholic thought, creating widespread confusion and unrest.

– When the danger of such is pointed out by those tradition-loving rascals who, for reasons that apparently escape the majority of self-described Catholics, insist on viewing the situation through a Catholic lens, the CPAs cry about faulty translations, or they wail over the poor pontiff’s words being deliberately twisted by the meanies in the media.

– At times, however, even they feel constrained to begrudgingly admit that the pope made some “regrettable” or poorly-worded statements; i.e., they allege that he didn’t really intend to say what literate, intelligent, faithful Catholics the world over understood him to say.

– Very importantly, in the aftermath of these now common occurrences, the pope doesn’t circle back to offer corrections or revisions concerning the supposedly misunderstood commentary; on the contrary, he simply soldiers on with his program, ultimately trumping himself with new and even more unsettling humanist rhetoric.

So, why the lack of papal clarifications?

That brings us to the most noteworthy portion of Fr. Lombardi’s statement, as reported by John Allen:

Nonetheless, Lombardi stopped short of saying that every line was literally as pronounced by the pope, suggesting instead that it represents a new genre of papal speech that’s deliberately informal and not concerned with precision.

A new genre of papal speech? Not concerned with precision? Are you kidding me?

My friends, this is wholesale, unadulterated lunacy; it is dangerous and flat out irresponsible.

Does not respect for the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine and the office of the papacy demand a very deep concern for precision in matters of faith?

If I need to answer that question for you, close your browser right now and go read something else, perhaps from the Dr. Seuss collection.

Pope Francis has been on the papal throne (or folding chair as he may prefer) for more than half-a-year now. He has been entirely consistent in his behavior throughout that entire time, going all the way back to his introduction on 13 March.

While the CPAs are lightening quick to criticize as “disrespectful of the pope” those who dare to point out the church of man doctrine oozing from his public words and actions, perhaps it is they who should take a moment to ponder the relative respectfulness of their own obvious unwillingness to simply allow the man to speak for himself.

I don’t doubt the good intentions of the CPAs, but for the love of God and all that is holy, it’s high time for them, and all reasonable people, to simply accept that this pope says what he means and means what he says.

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