The Facebook post, which boasts, “Now this is progress,” links to a New York Times article which blatantly misrepresents the Pope’s comments as an indication that the Catholic Church will be going in a new direction when it comes to objective issues of morality. Even the title is laughable: Pope Bluntly Faults Church’s Focus on Gays and Abortion. In the article, quotes were picked through and presented without their broader context to give the impression that Pope Francis has suddenly become a revolutionary critic of Church teaching, when nothing could be farther from the truth.
It’s no secret that liberal media frequently strives to promote the idea that the Church will “catch up” with the times, hoping that, with each new papal election or papal interview, the Catholic Church will magically poof into some kind of mainstream institution that does not hold objective moral truths as the standard of its teaching. With the fall of objective moral reality would come a new era in which abortion and all practices that threaten the dignity of human life for the sake of convenience and pragmatism were embraced. Fortunately, convenience and pragmatism are not the fundamentals – the “firm foundation” (Mt. 7:24-27) – on which Christian faith is built.
The notion in mainstream media seems to be that, through repeated misrepresentations of papal comments, the ancient traditions of the Catholic Church will suddenly conform to the ever-changing realities held by progressive Americans. Only a very delusional understanding of Catholic teaching, and of Christianity at large, could prompt such conjecture, or the meme of thanks from NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Let’s take a quick look at Pope Francis’s words, according to the interview published by America magazine. Note that the interview originally took place in Italian and was translated into English thereafter. The excerpt of particular interest to NARAL is as follows:
We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.
These comments were embedded in a much longer discussion of the Church as a kind of field hospital after battle, repairing the wounded by offering the love and mercy of Jesus Christ to sinners. The Holy Father’s comments regarding abortion addressed the issue that, without an overarching understanding and promotion of the Church’s main mission of salvation, a focus on dogmatic issues such as the morality of abortion, homosexual practices, and contraception lose their force. Without the understanding of the Church as a vessel of the Divine Physician – that is, Christ – the Church’s teachings about how to live the Christian life lose their gusto.
So sorry, NARAL, but a high school-level understanding of reading context deals the fatal blow to your interpretation of the Pope’s comments as a word of support and admiration for your anti-Christian, anti-life practices.