Showing posts with label the interview. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the interview. Show all posts

Monday, February 9, 2015

Topsy Turvy: Reactions to The Cardinal Burke Interview

What Cardinal Burke really said about 'resisting' Pope Francis :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)
Rorate Cæli: Full translation of Cardinal Burke's interview to France 2

I’m seeing some Catholics responding to an interview with Cardinal Burke that brings up a sense of déjà vu. They’re outraged at the words of Cardinal Burke which give an impression of disloyalty.

If what Cardinal Burke said was cited in context and translated with total accuracy, then it goes without saying that Pope Francis was entirely justified in throwing him out from his position. But, practicing what I preach about not rushing to judge Pope Francis on the basis of clips, let me just say that I don’t think that this “if” is true. (And, if you read my blog regularly, you already know I don’t think the Pope “threw him out” either).

Cardinal Burke, responding to a clip of Pope Francis’ oft misquoted “Who am I to judge," said in an interview with a French TV station as saying (assuming that the interpreter from Rorate Cæli did a good job translating—and I simply don’t know one way or another):

[Interviewer:] How do you intend to place pope Francis on the good path?

[Burke, in Italian] On this, also one must be very attentive regarding the power of the pope. The classic formulation is that, "the Pope has the plenitude, the    fullness, of power." This is true. But it is not absolute power. His power is at the service of the doctrine of the faith. And thus the Pope does not have the power to change teaching, doctrine.

[Interviewer:] In a somewhat provocative way, can we say that the true guardian of doctrine is you, and not pope Francis?

[Burke, in Italian:] [Smiles, shakes his head] We must, let us leave aside the matter of the Pope. In our faith, it is the truth of doctrine that guides us.

[Interviewer:] If Pope Francis insists on this path, what will you do?

[Burke, in Italian:] I will resist. I cannot do anything else. There is no doubt that this is a difficult time, this is clear, this is clear.

Those words, by themselves sound damning. But I oppose a rush to judgment. Why? Because in an interview with Catholic News Agency, Cardinal Burke (affirming he was quoted accurately) said he was “responding to a hypothetical situation” and “I simply affirmed that it is always my sacred duty to defend the truth of the Church's teaching and discipline regarding marriage,” and, “No authority can absolve me from that responsibility, and, therefore, if any authority, even the highest authority, were to deny that truth or act contrary to it, I would be obliged to resist, in fidelity to my responsibility before God.”

What Cardinal Burke says is true. The Pope could not absolve him from the responsibility to defend the Catholic faith over error. So we can’t say he was throwing down the gauntlet of rebellion against the Pope. But, if the Pope did not demand of the Cardinal that he teach error, that’s kind of a non-issue.

I think the problem is the video (following the translation—I don’t know either French nor Italian) seems to be excerpted clips from a bigger interview. Also, the interviewer and the presenter seem to be asking leading questions and biased rhetoric. So it feels like we’re not getting the whole picture needed to make an accurate judgment.

If Cardinal Burke intended to make Pope Francis to sound like a man who was heterodox, then I believe it could be said that he did wrong. But if the station France 2 gave an excerpted version of the interview, then we would have to avoid rash judgment and ask whether there is more material on the cutting room floor that would have clarified his relation with the Pope. If so, then Cardinal Burke could not be blamed and I would hope more information would come forward.

In order to avoid rash judgment, I would have to say we could not denounce (or praise as some seem prone to do) Cardinal Burke for disloyalty. We would have to wait and see, being willing to give a good interpretation to his words, asking him to clarify and only if he did turn out to be disloyal, to correct in love.

Practicing what I preach, I will not judge Cardinal Burke without solid evidence. Because there is none, I will not judge him.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

TFTD: Well Said Holy Father

Full transcript of Pope's interview in-flight to Manila :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

The Holy Father has spoken about the Charlie Hebdo murders in a way that makes a lot of sense, but will probably not win him support from those who believe there can be no restrictions on speech and press. He makes a two prong statement that addresses both issues:

  1. Using violence in the name of God can never be done.
  2. The freedom of speech is not an absolute that can justify saying anything offensive.

Basically, the Pope said that people have the right and obligation to speak the truth, but freedom is not absolute. One cannot be grossly offensive, especially when it comes to people’s religious beliefs. Even when people are grossly offensive, others don’t have the right to turn to violence in response. However, anger at having something important being attacked is not wrong in itself. (Which is a very useful point—too many try to twist Christians being offended by attacks as if it was “unchristian.”)

Unfortunately, some are beginning to accuse the Pope of supporting the terrorists—never mind the fact that he has continually condemned terrorism and clarified any possible ambiguities in what he said. They look at it as Either-Or, ignoring the fact that condemning both is a legitimate option.

But what he said makes perfect sense. Even if a non-Christian does not share our values, his words can be understood in terms of respect for others. When we make use of the freedom of speech or the press, we have to be respectful of others. When we speak about things we believe to be wrong, we do so with charity. If someone with a large audience does something grossly offensive and millions are offended, there will probably be a small group among them who would be willing to make an extreme response. It would be wrong of them to do so, but they may be motivated to act in spite of the their moral obligations not to murder.

Ultimately, that’s what happened with Charlie Hebdo. Millions of Muslims were angry, and they had a right to be angry by the offensive antics of this magazine. Tragically, some of these Muslims believed it was acceptable to murder. They were wrong to murder, regardless of what offensive garbage the magazine chose to publish. We believe that Charlie Hebdo did not have the right to be grossly offensive, regardless of their convictions.

So, as I see the Pope’s statement, he sees two wrongs: The wrong of people murdering those they disagree with and the wrong of being deliberately offensive. Both of these are condemnable. The Pope is not siding with the terrorists, but he is not Charlie either.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Something to Keep in Mind About the Media

With the hubbub slowly dying down over the Papal interviews, it seemed like a good idea to discuss the past problems of the media misinterpretation of the Church.

The American media seems to be incapable of viewing the Church apart from seeing her as political factions and appears to seriously believe that someday there will be a Pope who agrees with them... or that someday a Pope will "realize" the Church is wrong and change things.

Way back when Veritatis Splendor was written (1993), the media scoured it in hopes of finding that Bl. John Paul II had lifted the condemnation on contraception. The same thing happened with Evangelium Vitae. The media was asking, "Did the Church change its teaching?"

In both cases, the encyclcals were strongly affirming of Catholic teaching.

During the papacy of Benedict XVI, the media took a different approach. Perhaps because by this time, the Internet was in full swing and information was instantaneous -- though comprehension was not -- the media was interpreting what the Pope said on their own.

Unfortunately, they were interpreting the statements according to their own perspective, often giving a political twist when none was intended.

Thus, encyclcals of Benedict XVI which spoke on the role of government in a moral society were interpreted as advocating centralization -- despite the attempts to explain otherwise.

When, in an interview, Benedict used a hypothetical example of a male prostitute with AIDS to illustrate a point of people beginning to think of moral consequences of actions, the media thought he finally "understood" and was changing Church teaching.  Despite the attempts to explain what was really meant, some people still think he "changed the teaching."

Likewise, when Obama was elected, the Vatican indicated it was a good sign for America. This was interpreted as an endorsement of his policies. It was nothing of the sort. Rather, the Church had been deeply concerned for decades with the racism in America and the fact that a black man could be elected was a sign of change in American attitudes.

So, with this background, it comes as no surprise that the media has given a wrong interpretation to the words of Pope Francis. They keep expecting the Church will someday "realize it is wrong," and make "reforms."  With that mindset, errors should be expected when the media reports on the Church.

Thus, when the media reports a "change" in Church teaching, our first assumption should be they probably got it wrong and not assume the Pope changed Church teaching.

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.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Thoughts on the Pope's Second Interview

Thus far, the mainstream media seems to pay little attention (as of yet) to the Pope's second interview -- probably because there wasn't much to misrepresent. A few commentators on the Internet seem to have missed the point however, either implying or accusing that the Pope is guilty of outright relativism.

That's understandable though. A few statements in there initially gave me a WTF? kind of reaction, almost looking as if the Pope took a relativist view of truth, when he said:

" Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place."

Rereading the interview, I don't think that is a correct interpretation.

What the Pope is talking about is that all individuals are obligated to seek out the truth. See, a lot of people take an argument from silence approach to conscience -- "I don't feel anything wrong so it must be OK."

But that isn't conscience. Conscience says "I must do X" or "I must not do Y." Conscience can be wrongly informed,  yes. But the erroneous conscience still commands the person who does not know better.

But too many people are willing to rationalize away their conscience out of fear, expedience, ambition or other reasons. But what if  Germans in Nazi Germany had heeded this when they were told to do evil?  What if the woman considering abortion listened to her conscience instead of her fear?

The Pope is speaking to an atheist, not to a practicing Catholic. The atheist does not have an understanding of the complete truth as Catholics do. He can't say, "listen to the Church," because they don't recognize the authority of the Church. But he can appeal to the conscience because that is at least a common point of reference.

But the thing is, conscience requires one to seek and follow the truth. The man or woman who does not seek out whether they err are doing wrong. The person who, through no fault of their own, does not realize the importance of Christianity won't be condemned for that. But he or she will be judged if they refuse to seek out what is true.

As Catholics we should understand this, and not bash the Pope for trying to help an atheist begin to see his obligations.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

TFTD: The Pope, The Gospel and The Love of God

Today's Gospel reading is:

Matthew 9:9–13

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Pope Francis' on today's reading:

“And sinners, tax collectors and sinners, they felt that Jesus had looked on them and that gaze of Jesus upon them – I believe – was like a breath on embers, and they felt that there was fire in the belly, again, and that Jesus made ​​lifted them up, gave them back their dignity. The gaze of Jesus always makes us worthy, gives us dignity. It is a generous look. ‘But behold, what a teacher: dining with the dregs of the city!’: But beneath that dirt there were the embers of desire for God, the embers of God's image that wanted someone who could help them be kindled anew. This is what the gaze of Jesus does.”

Perhaps it would be good for the mainstream media and those bloggers who were scandalized by the Pope's interview to reflect on the reading and consider that just maybe the Pope's intent was not to deny the Church teaching, but rather was giving us a chance to consider whether we show Christ's love to the sinners we encounter.

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.