Pope Francis and “Father” Bergoglio



Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, over at his Midwest Conservative Journal  takes a look at the cold call imbroglio:

A new Roman Catholic Doctrinal FirestormTM has recently erupted:

Did Pope Francis tell a divorced and remarried woman that it was okay to take Communion even though her parish priest denied her the host?

That’s the latest kerfuffle created by the “cold-call” pope who on Monday, the day after Easter, called an Argentine woman who had written to him about whether she should receive communion at Mass even though she was divorced and remarried.

“There are priests who are more papist than the pope,” the pope himself reportedly told Jacquelina Lisbona.

Kudos to CNN, which UPDATES the story with reporting from three continents (literally): CNN has a Vatican spokesman confirming that the call did indeed take place, but the Rev. Thomas Rosica provided no details.

“It’s between the Pope and the woman,” said Rosica, a consultant for the Vatican press office.

“To draw any conclusions about this particular situation, that the Pope may be setting an agenda, is incorrect,” Rosica told the network. “The Pope is first and foremost an esteemed pastor, and dealing with a human situation is always complex.”

That’s good to keep in mind, though if the contents of the pope’s conversation with Lisbona are true, then this is a big deal, at least in terms of the example Francis is setting rather than the doctrine that he is not changing.

Here’s the woman’s account of the phone call.

“The phone rang and my husband answered. It was Fr. Bergoglio calling. The father asked to speak to me and my husband asked: ‘Who’s calling?’, to which the voice replied ‘Fr. Bergoglio.’ I asked him if it was really him, the pope, and he said it was and that he was calling in response to my letter dated September.

“Then he told me there are some priests who are more papist that the pope. He was completely normal with me on the phone and I tried to speak to him with the utmost respect. Now I am overwhelmed by the enormous effect this story has had and I feel moved by the fact that I spoke to Francis. I told him I would write to him again when I take Communion again.”

Was this call actually made?  It seems to have been.

Yes, the pope called Jacquelina Lisbona. The real question regards the content of the conversation. If indeed he said those things this would be a big deal because she is still in what the church would call an “irregular” marriage. Her husband is divorced, and they have not been married in the church.

In any case, Francis once again has set an example for the rest of the hierarchy even without changing church law, and it’s in keeping with the pope’s character — Francis has frequently shown little patience with priests who are “little monsters” (his words) who cite “small-minded” rules rather than ministering mercy to people.

Damian Thompson has posts on this story up here and here.  This site’s Catholic readership can hash this out in the comments (in fact, I hope you guys do) but I am, for the most part, going to adhere to MCJ policy about controversial Roman Catholic news stories, hold off for a few days and wait to see how this thing plays out.

But somebody is going to have to remind Francis of the difference between a parish priest and the leader of a great Christian church as well as the reigning sovereign of the world’s oldest, continuous monarchy.  Parish priests have a certain rhetorical latitude that popes do not, indeed cannot, have. Continue Reading


The Pope Is On The Line




The controversy du jour regarding the Pope with Father Z’s comments:


Sometimes it is hard to tell whether the writer gets it wrong because he doesn’t know better or whether their mistakes are on purpose.

Perhaps you can chime in.

From The Telegraph:

Pope Francis tells divorced woman she should be allowed Communion [This is news?  No.  That was a trick question.  Is there more?]

In what would be a break from Catholic teaching, Pope said to have phoned remarried [That adds new information, doesn’t it?   You would think that something this important would in the headline, no?] Argentine woman Jacquelina Sabetta telling her ‘nothing wrong’ in her taking Holy Communion  [Next question: Who says?  Who claims that this is what the Pope said?]

Pope Francis has reportedly [!] told a divorced and remarried woman that she should be allowed to receive Holy Communion, in what would be a significant shift from current Catholic Church teaching. [And therefore we are all to be highly skeptical.  This is rumor.  The woman tells a reporter in Argentina, the wires pick it up, this article is written… how many times removed is this?  Did she, at the beginning, even grasp what the Pope might have actually said?  (I doubt it.)]

Jacquelina Sabetta, who is from the Pope’s home country of Argentina, wrote to him saying that she found it distressing that as a Catholic who had divorced and remarried, she was not allowed to take the Sacrament in church. [“Take the Sacrament” a turn of phrase redolent of… something.]

After divorcing her first husband, she had remarried in a civil ceremony.

In her letter she said she was worried that if she took Communion, she would be “violating Church rules”. [NO!  This is not just a “rule”! Rules are fairly easily changed.]

The Pope, who since being elected 13 months ago has established a reputation for calling ordinary Catholics out of the blue, then telephoned her at home on Easter Monday. [Maybe.]

He reportedly [!] told her: “A divorcee who takes communion is not doing anything wrong.” [That doesn’t pass the smell test.  I just don’t buy that the Pope would tell a woman who is in an improper marriage can receive Communion.  And I certainly don’t think he would have wanted this to be trumpeted around.]

The surprising exchange was recounted by Mrs Sabetta’s husband, Julio Sabetta, who wrote about it on his Facebook page.  [WOAH!  So, the source wasn’t the woman who allegedly received the phone call.  This is more information.  It was her “husband”.  And not just her husband, but his page on FACEBOOK!  This is a good source?]

“One of the most wonderful things in my life has just happened,” he wrote.  [And I suppose we are all supposed to be delighted for them. How you “feel” is all that matters these days.]

The phone call from the Pope reportedly [!] came six months after the woman wrote to him. Introducing himself as “Father Bergoglio” – a reference to his given name, Jorge Mario Bergoglio – the South American pontiff said he was sorry it had taken him so long to make the call. [“Father Bergoglio”… uh huh.  Sometimes priest friends have been known to make some pretty funny phone calls to me and mutual friends while imitating imitable priests or bishops.  Hilarity ensues.]

“It is an issue we are discussing in the Vatican, because a divorcee who takes communion is not doing anything wrong,” the Pope reportedly [!] said.  [HERE is the big problem at the core of this article.  It is true that a “divorcee” can receive Communion.  In the last quote, that is the main element to attend to.  The problem enters when you add “remarried” to “divorcee”.  Get it?  So… what’s going on?  IF the Pope called, and I am not ready to buy that without a moment of doubt, and IF the Pope tried to explain her situation, did she actually understand anything he said after saying that divorce, in itself, isn’t the main problem?  I can very imagine her tuning out everything after that.  Then she recounts it in a scrambled way to her “husband” who may or may not get it.  He puts it on Facebook.  Somehow the press sees it… how did that happen, I wonder.  Then it hits the wires… then… get it?]

The Catholic Church currently maintains that unless a first marriage is annulled, [NO! NO! NO!  The Church does NOT annul marriages!   The Church can declare that a marriage was null from the beginning.  The Church cannot put asunder what God hath joined.] Catholics who remarry cannot receive Communion because they are essentially living in sin and committing adultery.

Such annulments are often impossible to obtain, or can take years to process, a problem that has left many Catholics feeling rejected by the Church.

Since being elected in March last year, Pope Francis has on several occasions called for a more merciful approach to the problem, but had so far stuck to official Church doctrine.  [“Official” Church doctrine… is there any other kind?  Apparently there is the Church doctrine as reported by the MSM.]

In February he said divorced and separated couples should not be excluded from Church activities, in remarks which also raised speculation that he may one day lift the ban on divorcees receiving Communion.  [Again… sloppy and misleading.  AGAIN… the problem is not just divorce.  The problem is remarriage.]

He told a group of Polish bishops that priests should “ask themselves how to help (divorced couples), [HUH?  “Divorced couples”?] so that they don’t feel excluded from the mercy of God, the fraternal love of other Christians, and the Church’s concern for their salvation.”

When asked whether the remarks attributed to the Pope were correct, a Vatican spokesman told The Telegraph: “We would neither confirm nor deny that – this was a private telephone call made by the Holy Father and we would not divulge the details.” [The Press Office doesn’t have to divulge all the details, but… sheesh!… at least uphold Catholic teaching!]

But the reported remarks were in line with the position taken by Pope Francis in recent months – that the Church should treat divorcees and their partners with more compassion. [When you look at what Francis has said in public, he talks about sinners and compassion.  Compassion does NOT mean violating the teachings of the Church.] Continue Reading