Friday, June 17, 2016

Adam Shaw: Enough is enough, Pope Francis should resign

Pope Francis’s three-year-old papacy, marred by controversy from the beginning, has hit a new low.

After Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected to succeed Pope Benedict XVI in 2013, he quickly justified his reputation as an unconventional character who put himself on both sides of an argument with vaguely worded pronouncements.

From his “Who am I to judge?” statement on gay people that seemed to offer a hint at a change in church teaching, to his fumbles on contraception, to his recent claim that Donald Trump is not Christian, his off-the-cuff remarks cause headlines across the globe, often followed by some sort of “clarification” from the Holy See Press Office.

His papacy has been a litany of confusing statements for the faithful on the most sensitive and delicate topics. While clear on political topics dear to his heart, but where Catholics can legitimately hold differing opinions, such as immigration, economics and climate change, on matters of doctrine, Francis muddied the waters to an extent that many well-meaning Catholics feel they no longer know where the Church stands on issues of faith.

Most recently, in his latest off-the-cuff ramble on Thursday, he was asked about marriage. He said:

“It’s provisional, and because of this the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null. Because they say ‘yes, for the rest of my life!’ but they don’t know what they are saying. Because they have a different culture. They say it, they have good will, but they don’t know.”

To say that the “great majority” of Catholic marriages are null, or invalid, is a statement that is neither true, wise, nor fair. The Vatican has since toned down his remarks in the written transcript to say “a part of our sacramental marriages are null,” in apparent recognition of the damage Francis’s statement might cause.

For a “pope of the people” he certainly doesn’t give Catholics much credit. For a Catholic marriage to be valid all that is needed is the freedom to marry, consent from both parties, and the intention to marry for life and be open to children. That’s it.

Over the years, some clerics have used an interpretation of canon law to suggest “emotional immaturity” can be a reason for not understanding the responsibilities of marriage, and therefore as invalid and open to annulment. But marriage is not hard to understand, and the Catholic rite of marriage, as well as the preparation couples go through beforehand, makes clear what marriage involves.

For Pope Francis to say the great majority of marriages are null implies that the great majority of Catholic are ignorant fools who cannot understand the responsibilities of a bedrock of society that has existed for thousands of years.

Read the rest here.


Patrick Sheridan said...

Personally, I think Francis is a breath of fresh air compared with his predecessor. I can only imagine that this stuff about mercy and goodness must go against the grain among some groups of Roman Catholics.

Chris said...

Benedict XVI was a Catholic theologian heavyweight and Frankie isn't worthy to hold his jockstrap. Talk of mercy is great, but it can only be meaningfully understood if there were sins to be forgiven. In Frankie's world view, there are no sins, but excuses and justifications for conduct contrary to the teaching and doctrine of the Church. Mercy is bestowed to penitent sinners not to those who find themselves in circumstances which they could control but chose not to. Mercy only means something to those who are conscious of the sin, nothing to those who think that their mistakes are due to circumstances or situations for which they claim or think they have no responsibility.

rick allen said...

And then there are those of us who love and admire both Benedict and Francis, see that each has his strengths and his weaknesses, and try to listen with respect to the things they say without imposing the restraints of a world-view simplified to "liberal" and "conservative."

How shocking are his remarks about marriage? They pretty much line up with what I see all around me. And it was something that lots of "conservatives" used to say before a "liberal" said it, and suddenly made it something to resign over.