"The Francis Revolution is underway.... Francis has called on young Catholics in the
trenches to take up spiritual arms to shake up a dusty, doctrinaire
church that is losing faithful and relevance.... Benedict XVI, had coddled traditionalist Catholics
attached to the old Latin Mass and opposed to the modernizing reforms of
the Second Vatican Council.... tone and
priorities can themselves constitute change, especially when
considering issues that aren't being emphasized.... Francis also made headlines with his call
for the church to develop a new theology of women's role" (Analysis: Pope's revolution; not all are pleased, Bucks County Courier Times, 8/2/13).
Despite Ms. Winfield's inferences, one need only look at the transcript of the press conference to see that Pope Francis made clear that he is "a child of the Church" who embraces doctrine on the sanctity of human life and human sexuality, and that lack of specific comments on any topic did not signal change:
Patricia Zorzan: "Speaking on behalf of Brazilians. The society has changed, young
people have changed, and we see many young people in Brazil. You have
spoken to us about abortion, matrimony between persons of the same sex.
In Brazil a law has been approved which extends the right of abortion
and has allowed matrimony between persons of the same sex. Why didn’t
you speak about this?"
Pope Francis: "The Church has already expressed herself perfectly on this. It wasn’t necessary to go back to this, nor did I speak about fraud or lies or other things, on which the Church has a clear doctrine.
Patricia Zorzan: "But it’s an issue that interests young people …"
Pope Francis: "Yes, but it wasn’t necessary to talk about that, but about positive things that open the way to youngsters, isn’t that so? Moreover, young people know perfectly well what the position of the Church is."
Patricia Zorzan: "What is the position of Your Holiness, can you tell us?"
Pope Francis: "That of the Church. I’m a child of the Church." (www.zenit.org/en/articles/francis-press-conference-on-return-flight-from-brazil-part-1.):
While the Holy Father did make "headlines with his call for the church to develop a new theology of women's role," he has also made clear that this would not include ordination:
- Anna Ferreira: "....you spoke to
the Brazilian Bishops about women’s participation in our Church. I’d
like to understand better: how should this participation be for us,
women in the Church? If you … what do you think of the ordination of
women? What should our position in the Church be?"
Pope Francis: "....with reference to the ordination of women, the Church has spoken and she said : 'No.' John Paul II said it, but with a definitive formulation. That is closed, that door is closed, but I’d like to say something about this. I’ve said it, but I repeat it. Our Lady, Mary, was more important than the Apostles, than bishops, deacons and priests. In the Church, woman is more important than bishops and priests; how, it’s what we must seek to make more explicit, because theological explicitness about this is lacking. Thank you" (www.zenit.org/en/articles/francis-press-conference-on-return-flight-from-brazil-part-2.).
Without a genuine understanding of what the Church proclaims about marriage and what Pope Francis has reiterated, it is almost understandable that there would be poor reporting. Pope Francis is not deviating from what the Church proclaimed in Pius XI's Casti Connubii, Vatican II's Gaudium et Spes, Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae, Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body, or the Catechism of the Catholic Church. As per Pope Francis' Lumen Fidei:
- "52. In Abraham’s journey towards the future city, the Letter
to the Hebrews mentions the blessing which was passed on from fathers to
sons (cf. Heb 11:20-21). The first setting in which faith enlightens
the human city is the family. I think first and foremost of the stable
union of man and woman in marriage. This union is born of their love, as
a sign and presence of God’s own love, and of the acknowledgment and
acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation, whereby spouses
can become one flesh (cf. Gen 2:24) and are enabled to give birth to a
new life, a manifestation of the Creator’s goodness, wisdom and loving
plan. Grounded in this love, a man and a woman can promise each other
mutual love in a gesture which engages their entire lives and mirrors
many features of faith. Promising love for ever is possible when we
perceive a plan bigger than our own ideas and undertakings, a plan which
sustains us and enables us to surrender our future entirely to the one
we love. Faith also helps us to grasp in all its depth and richness the
begetting of children, as a sign of the love of the Creator who entrusts
us with the mystery of a new person. So it was that Sarah, by faith,
became a mother, for she trusted in God’s fidelity to his promise (cf.
Given the opportunity to pose her own question to Pope Francis, Nicole Winfield's inquiry seemed akin to asking the Holy Father about his favorite ice cream:
- Nicole Winfield: "Holiness, thank you again for having come 'among the lions.' Holiness, at the fourth month of your pontificate, I would like to ask
you to make a small evaluation. Can you tell us what was the best thing
of being Pope, an anecdote, and what was the worst thing, and what was
the thing that surprised you most in this period?"
Shortly after her own question, Nicole Winfield appears to have missed poignant comments about liturgy:
Alexey Bukalov: "....today
the Orthodox are celebrating 1,025 years of Christianity. There are
great celebrations in many capitals. Would you like to comment on this
event, I would be happy if you did. Thank you."
Pope Francis: "In the Orthodox Churches they have kept that pristine liturgy, so beautiful. We have lost a bit the sense of adoration. They keep, they praise God, they adore God, they sing, time doesn’t count. God is the center, and this is a richness that I would like to say on this occasion in which you ask me this question....Consumerism, wellbeing, have done us so much harm. Instead you keep this beauty of God at the center, the reference. When one reads Dostoyevsky – I believe that for us all he must be an author to read and reread, because he has wisdom – one perceives what the Russian spirit is, the Eastern spirit. It’s something that will do us so much good. We are in need of this renewal, of this fresh air of the East, of this light of the East. John Paul II wrote it in his Letter. But so many times the luxus of the West makes us lose the horizon. I don’t know, it came to me to say this. Thank you" (www.zenit.org/en/articles/francis-press-conference-on-return-flight-from-brazil-part-2.).
In response to those about to stone a woman caught in adultery, Jesus said "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." After the accusers walked away, Jesus told the woman that He did not condemn her. Jesus did NOT go on to say, "Your accusers were a bunch of fuddy duddies. What you do with your old man or your old men is cool with me." Jesus told the woman, "Go and sin no more" (cf., John 8). Only with that perspective can Pope Francis' comments in his final answer be correctly understood:
"In regard to Monsignor Ricca, I’ve done what Canon Law orders to do, which is the investigatio previa. And from this investigatio
there is nothing of which they accuse him, we haven’t found anything of
person, lay or priest or Sister, has committed a sin and then has
converted, the Lord forgives....I think so many times of Saint Peter: he committed one of the worst
sins, which is to deny Christ, and with this sin he was made Pope" (www.zenit.org/en/articles/francis-press-conference-on-return-flight-from-brazil-part-2.).