Are you puzzled or confused about how the media have reported the recent interview of Pope Francis, published in America Magazine? Here are two things you can do:
1) Read the Interview itself! Click on this link: http://www.americamagazine.org/pope-interview
2) Read the following homily, delivered by Fr. Fadi Auro, Associate Pastor at Ascension Parish (Chesterfield) on September 21-22, 2013.
Twenty-Fifth Sunday of the Year, Cycle C
AM 8:4-7 / PS 113 / 1 TM 2:1-8 / LK 16:1-13
We cannot think that our Blessed Lord is encouraging us to be dishonest like this unjust steward, can we? Surely not! No, rather, as St. Augustine teaches us in his commentary on this passage, the Lord proposes this parable not because this “servant is a model for us to imitate, but rather because he had his eye one the future.” He foresaw what was going to happen – he was going to be fired – and so he did what he needed to do in order to make sure that he would be secure (cf. F. Fernandez, In Conversation with God, New York: Scepter, 2003; 63-65).
We are all accustomed to seeing people make great sacrifices in order to advance their image, or their lifestyle, or their political agenda. To what lengths people go for more wealth, and power, and fame, and pleasure!
And that, I think is why our Lord, perhaps with a little sadness in his voice, commends the shrewdness of the steward, but adds, “the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” In other words, the worldly know how to get what they want: and they will do everything necessary to get it. But our Lord tells us: “I am offering you – you my disciples – I am offering you eternal life and total happiness: what are you willing to sacrifice for it?” The Christian must be like the unjust steward in this: he must have the determination: the decisiveness: the firm resolve to secure his salvation no matter the cost or the sacrifice demanded.
II. My friends, “the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” We have all seen very clear examples of this worldly shrewdness: and cunning: and cleverness just this week.
Now before I go further, I must say that one of the very many reasons I love Pope Francis is that he makes it very easy for me to decide the direction I must take my Sunday homilies.
But from the very beautiful 12,000 word interview which he gave to La Civiltá Catholica, the press has reported a whopping 17 words, taken entirely our of their proper context.
The New York Times declared “Pope Bluntly Faults Church’s Focus on Gays and Abortion.” USA today proclaimed: “Pope Seeks Less Focus on Abortion, Gays, and Contraception.” CBS News headlined: “Catholic Church must Focus Beyond ‘Small-Minded Rules” and comments “Pope Francis has warned that the Catholic Church’s moral structure might ‘fall like a house of cards’ if it doesn’t balance its decisive rules about abortion, gays, and contraception with the greater need make it a merciful and more welcoming place for all.”
All of this, of course, is meant to make the public – especially the Catholic faithful – believe that the Church must inevitably change is teachings about fundamental moral issues, or it will collapse like a house of cards.
“The Children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”
I have read the interview – as I very much hope you will too – in its entirety. Anyone who reads it with honesty and good will must surely come away with a very different impression of what the Holy Father said than what the media has reported. Which must make us wonder why: it is either sheer reckless journalism at best, or far more likely: simple deception: carefully planned to distort the voice of the Church and to confuse the faithful so as to advance an evil social agenda.
That is what the world wants: the eradication of the moral law – and the Church (who speaks for all who honor and revere Christ) alone stands in its way.
III. Did the pope say that he intends to overturn the moral law? Of course not! He’s the Pope! As a matter of fact – and the media of course will never report this – but the very day after the release of the interview: do you know what the pope did? He spoke about abortion, and in the strongest possible terms. He said: “the throw-away culture which today enslaves the hearts and minds of so many, has a very high cost: it requires the elimination of human-beings, especially if they are physically or socially weaker. Our response to this mentality is a decisive and unwavering ‘yes’ [to] life. For this reason, it has become in recent times a true and fitting priority for the Magisterium of the Church [to defend] the most defenseless . . . In the fragile human being each one of us is invited to recognize the face of our Lord . . . every unborn child, condemned unjustly to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ: has the face of the Lord, which even before birth . . . experiences the refusal of the world . . . They can’t be thrown away, as the throw-away culture proposes to us! They can’t be thrown away!” (Discorso del Santo Padre Franceso ai partecipanti all’incontro promosso dalla federazione internazionale delle associazioni dei medici Cattolici, Sala Clementina, September 20, 2013).
And even in the ‘controversial’ interview itself, he said as distinctly as possible that when it comes to abortion, euthanasia, the nature of marriage, and chastity: “the teaching of the Church . . . is clear, and I am a son of the Church.” To be a son of the Church, obviously, is to embrace her teachings.
But the Holy Father also tells us – and this is where what he says in the interview can be very valuable to us – he also advises us that “when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context.” And that ‘context’ is Jesus Christ and his burning desire for the eternal salvation of every human person. The moral law, my friends, is not some arbitrary set of rules imposed by a God who wants to make our life difficult and miserable. No. The moral law is about our fulfillment and happiness as human beings, living in the way that God created us to live. Every time the Church says “no,” she does so on the basis of a higher and more compelling “yes:” yes to the dignity and value of every human life: yes to the beauty of marital love according to God’s plan, yes to the holiness of human sexuality, as God envisioned it for us. (Partially from G. Weigel, The Christ Centered Pope, NRO, September 30, 2013).
The Church, my brothers and sisters, always has her arms open to the world, and in her maternal love for every each and everyone, she desires all – each and every person – to know the love of God: she desires them to know the Lord Jesus, who, as St. Paul tells us, “wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.”
And so, as Pope Francis tells us so beautifully, “we must first present the message of salvation, and then move on to catechesis and moral teachings.” My brothers and sisters, this is the divine imperative: this is the divine command, and it is obligatory not only to me as a priest, but to all of you: Go! Tell others how much God loves them! Tell them how much he desires them to be happy: how much he desires them to be holy! And then, by all means, catechizes them, and explain to them the meaning and the value of the Church’s moral message.
That is the proper context.
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.