Stop the presses! It looks like the pope is Catholic after all.
Some secular media reports don’t exactly know what to make of Pope Francis’ most recent comments to Italian medical doctors Nov. 15 in which he upheld the sanctity of human life, calling it “sacred, valuable and inviolable” (see Page 17).
“In the light of faith and right reason, human life is always sacred and always ‘of quality,’” Pope Francis said. “There is no human life that is more sacred than another ... just as there is no human life qualitatively more significant than another.”
But things really got good when the pope continued, adding that the “dominant thinking” often “suggests a ‘false compassion,’ that which believes that it is: helpful to women to promote abortion; an act of dignity to obtain euthanasia; a scientific breakthrough to ‘produce’ a child and to consider it to be a right rather than a gift to welcome; or to use human lives as guinea pigs presumably to save others.”
He went on: “Fidelity to the Gospel of life and respect for life as a gift from God sometimes require choices that are courageous and go against the current, which in particular circumstances, may become points of conscientious objection. And this fidelity entails many social consequences. We are living in a time of experimentation with life. But a bad experiment. ... Playing with life. Be careful, because this is a sin ... against God the Creator, who created things this way.”
Yes, the pope is Catholic — and, naturally, a strong defender of life. (Two days later, by the way, he also backed traditional marriage and family life.)
So where does this leave us? It’s been a little more than 20 months since Pope Francis was elected, and many Church observers are saying that the Pope Francis “honeymoon” is at an end. These same people, however, don’t always agree on which honeymoon.
Some believe the grace period is ending with the secular media — that while Pope Francis continues to be big news, they are also starting to realize that he is a faithful son of the Church, maintaining and upholding the Church’s doctrine.
Others believe, especially after last month’s synod, that it’s time for those within the Church who are uncomfortable with Pope Francis’ emphases to find their voice. Still others are simply trying to learn more about our Argentine pontiff and what drives him in order to best form an opinion.
If you’re in that camp, I highly recommend Austen Ivereigh’s new book “The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope.” Its depth is unparalleled in the quickly growing Francis biography genre, and the reader can’t help but come away with a deeper understanding of Jorge Bergoglio.
As we enter a new liturgical year, we should remember, too, that while Francis is pope (and Catholic!), he also is human, and he needs our prayers.
Thoughts? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.