Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Is the Pope Catholic?

Is he or isn't he?

"Is the Pope Catholic?" is a rhetorical question, asked in jest, since it is beyond doubt that the Pope, of all people, is verily and indisputably Catholic.   At least, that had been true, until now, since with each new interview, Pope Francis has been providing grounds for some, well, (absurd though it may sound), doubt.  In his latest interview, with Eugenio Scalfari, the co-founder and former editor of the Italian publication La Repubblica, an interview which Pope Francis arranged, in his disarmingly direct and modest style, by simply phoning Scalfari himself, Pope Francis said the following:

"Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense;"
"Heads of the Church have often been narcissists;"
"I believe in God, not in a Catholic God, there is no Catholic God..." 

Not surprisingly, these sayings raised eyebrows in certain quarters.   It's possible my own eyebrows fluttered upwards a bit.  However, Pope Francis said many uncontroversial things besides, such as

"The old need care and companionship; the young need work and hope but have neither one nor the other;"

"[The Church's] mission: to identify the material and immaterial needs of the people and try to meet them as we can. Do you know what agape is?  It is love of others, as our Lord preached. It is not proselytizing, it is love. Love for one's neighbor, that leavening that serves the common good;"  

"Personally I think so-called unrestrained liberalism only makes the strong stronger and the weak weaker and excludes the most excluded. We need great freedom, no discrimination, no demagoguery and a lot of love;"

"Personally I think that being a minority is actually a strength. We have to be a leavening of life and love and the leavening is infinitely smaller than the mass of fruits, flowers and trees that are born out of it. I believe I have already said that our goal is not to proselytize but to listen to needs, desires and disappointments, despair, hope. We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace."   

All of that sounds well within the mainstream of Catholic teaching.

 You can read the whole thing here.

UPDATE:  The interview wasn't taped, Scalfari took no notes, it was an after the fact recreation.  And Scalfari is 88 years old.