An interesting and completely wrongheaded article in Catholic Herald by Father Raymond de Souza:
What was more striking was the Holy Father’s denunciation of a particular woman who was expecting her eighth child, having had seven caesarian deliveries previously. Twice in the press conference Pope Francis said that, upon meeting her at a Roman parish, he had rebuked her for being irresponsible. He gave enough information that it would be easy to discover her identity. Her family and fellow parishioners certainly all know that she has been denounced by the Holy Father as irresponsible for conceiving her eighth child. The child, too, will grow up knowing what Pope Francis said.
Why would the Holy Father go out of his way to denounce a particular woman? It is not the first time he has done so. Last February, at his meeting with the priests of Rome, he criticised a specific priest in the Holy See’s diplomatic service, then at the nunciature to Italy. In April, an Argentine woman in an invalid marriage said that the Holy Father told her to ignore the instructions of her parish priest in regard to not receiving Holy Communion. As the woman’s name was known, everyone in the parish knew that their pastor had been corrected by the Pope.
Francis may be giving an answer to a question I have had since I was ordained more than a decade ago. I have often asked brother priests where in our pastoral ministry we imitate the denunciations – “brood of vipers”, “whited sepulchres”, “blind guides” and “hypocrites” – that the Lord Jesus used. Where do we obey His command to shake the dust off our feet at those who refuse to accept the Gospel?
In my own ministry, it would be very difficult to provide examples of how I have done what Jesus did, or commanded His Apostles to do. Jesus gives us different models of pastoral ministry. The dominant one would be that of the good shepherd who goes out in search of the lost, the friend to the afflicted and ostracised, the healer of the sick and the absolver of sins.
Yet that is not the only model given to us. It is just the only one that seminarians are trained to provide, and the only one that priests – myself included – tend to offer. Very few of us imitate the fullness of what Jesus did, and what the Apostles did in imitation of Him. Pope Francis is not like that. Rare is the daily homily in which he does not offer a pointed criticism of how some Christians are failing to live authentic lives of discipleship. In his principal magisterial document to date, Evangelii Gaudium, the denunciations were so numerous that commentators began to compile lists of them.
The Holy Father did the same in his Christmas greetings to his colleagues in the Roman Curia last December, composing a catalogue of their spiritual diseases and failings. Many of those in the room found it rude. Perhaps so, but no more rude than how Jesus spoke to the “curial officials” of His day, the Pharisees and scribes.
Is Pope Francis offering us a new model of how to be pastors, only slightly less quick with a lambasting word than with a loving one? Perhaps. It seems to me that the Holy Father is able to speak so harshly and so often precisely because he so transparently lives out the dominant model of Christian pastoral ministry, that of the good shepherd, the binder of wounds.
Go here to read the rest. PopeWatch is all in favor of the clergy being much more plainspoken in regard to sinners. Mealy mouthed priests, bishops and cardinals have become all too common in the wake of Vatican II. However, the problem with the Pope’s rabbit remark is that the woman he rebuked was not sinning. She was living out heroically the teachings of the Church and the Pope verbally backhanded her for it. That isn’t being plainspoken, that is being nuts.