Monday, October 7, 2013

Judging the Pope

I have quoted this section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church many times over the years:

2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:

— of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;

— of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;

— of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:

Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.

It's clear that the Catechism, being defined as a sure norm for the faith, makes it beyond a doubt that judging others of possessing moral fault without sufficient foundation is condemned.

So, when the Pope gives an interview, which some people find unclear, the troubled reader is required to find out what the Pope intended to say -- not assume the Pope spoke error, wittingly or no.

The burden of proof is on showing that the Pope's intended message is in error. NOT for the Pope to be required to prove his innocence.

Unfortunately, there are a certain set of bloggers who do judge the Pope who presume that any misunderstandings must be the fault of the Pope. Some say he spoke wrongly. Others say he spoke unclearly. But without a sufficient foundation to base this judgment on, it is rash judgment.

So how do we avoid rash judgment? We can do this by looking at other statements the Pope made on the topic. Do you really think he's indifferent on abortion and homosexual acts? We know he spoke out against both in Argentina and as Pope.

So, if the Pope has taken a strong stand in the past on moral issues and spoke less clearly in an interview, which view is more probable?

1) That the Pope was misunderstood and actually still is a "son of the Church" (his own words) on Catholic moral teaching?

2) That the Pope changed his mind on these issues?

The reasonable answer is #1. #2 is Rash Judgment.

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