Is the Pope Catholic?

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/08/22/is-the-pope-catholic/

Shortly after signing on as Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running-mate, Senator Tim Kaine cheerily described his mission as reaching out to the Pope Francis Catholics. The Jesuit educated Kaine has joined a long line of Democratic politicians who are trying to have it both ways: professing to be “good Catholics” and advancing a pro-choice, “progressive” agenda that conflicts with long standing teaching of their church.

It is hard to imagine that these politicians, many of whom blatantly use their Catholicism as vote-generators, are not aware that they are advancing policies and laws that are in direct contradiction to the doctrines of their professed faith. And, worse, they are leading vast numbers of their co-religionist to the belief that it is okay to go along with their new, relaxed views.

A few weeks ago, a smiling Vice President Joe Biden officiated in his own home at the marriage of two males. Still, he rarely misses an opportunity to tout his Catholicism. Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also describes herself as an “observant Catholic,” but repeatedly insists that the Catholic Church has not always opposed abortion. She, like other Democrat politicians, have regularly spread confusion on this issue and the Church’s stand against same-sex marriage. Many of these politicians use the words and media-projected view of the current pope for political cover.

However, the Church, itself, bears some responsibility for the emergence of “Pope Francis Catholics.” Pope Francis, in contrast to his two immediate predecessors, Popes Benedict and John Paul, is not a theologian nor a scholar. He is a pastor and he tends to approach issues as one.

Since the time of Christ, the Church’s teaching on issues of personal behavior is, and has been, “Hate the sin. Love the sinner.” This pope has focused on the loving-the-sinner aspect of that principal. In the process, he has confused large numbers of people in and out of the Catholic Church. Early in his pontificate, in an informal airplane interview, he was asked a specific question about what to do with a gay priest. He famously answered, “Who am I to judge?” He repeated this answer in his recent book, “The Name of God is Mercy.”

Whether the Pope recognizes it or not, leftist politicians and media sharks are hiding under the Shepard Pope’s cloak to advance their secularist agenda. Their attention to his non-judgementalism and mercy is interpreted as a retreat from traditional Catholic doctrine.

Still the pope’s “shoot from the lip” style has led to what is reported to be his great personal popularity. There is little doubt, however, that many in and out of the Catholic Church are uncertain about the current state of Catholic doctrine as it relates to a range of family, marriage and human sexuality.

In stark contrast, Hillary’s Democratic Party is very clear and increasingly aggressive about its positions on such matters. Particularly, its abortion any-time-any-where and at taxpayers’ expense policy. The Democratic Party’s 2016 platform boldly states:

Democrats are committed to protecting and advancing reproductive health, rights, and justice. We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured … We will continue to oppose and seek to overturn federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment.

While individual Democrats, like President Obama and Hillary and prominent Catholics like, Joe Biden, Tim Kaine, Nancy Pelosi and others have regularly tailored their positions on these matters further and further leftward, the Church, as an institution, has not.  If, as promised, a Hillary presidency means the death of the Hyde Amendment and Catholics and other like-minded people are compelled to pay for abortions, a sleeping giant might be awakened.




As a practical matter, however, individual Catholics…from the Pope to the pastors, from the bishops to the parishioners … have not sent out clear and ringing messages on these fundamental doctrines. There has been odd silence and confusing messages up and down the line. There has been a failure to connect doctrine to today’s realities. A once confident Church appears reluctant to speak truth to secular power. Nevertheless, abortion is still a sin. So, too, is sex outside of traditional marriage.

Conventional wisdom notwithstanding, sin is still a reality in human affairs and the Pope is, in fact, still Catholic.

Kevin and Marilyn Ryan

Kevin and Marilyn Ryan

Kevin and Marilyn Ryan are writers, former teachers, and the editors of  Why I’m Still A Catholic. They write primarily on cultural, educational and religious topics. Read their past columns here.

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