Pope Francis, Church Doctrine, and Assumptions

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In the last week or so, a lot of the media has been buzzing over what Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of Father Fernando Karadima, claimed that the Holy Father had told him during a private audience. Juan Carlos, along with other victims of the Chilean clergy sex abuse crisis were there to meet with Francis. Before I say more, let me say that what happened to Juan Carlos, along to the other victims, is undoubtedly evil. I am glad that Pope Francis has turned his attention to them and that he has taken action on those clergy responsible.

I want to focus on something that is related to this visit. I wish to focus on one of the things that reportedly came out of that private audience between the Pope and Juan Carlos Cruz. Juan Carlos had shared in an interview about his visit with Francis that he was told by the Holy Father, “You have to be happy with who you are. God made you this way and loves you this way, and the pope loves you this way.” New York Times Much of the media, of course, is having a heyday with this.

This is not the first time that something Pope Francis has said, or supposedly said, has received so much attention. The, “Who am I to judge” comment in July of 2013 is one such example of a remark that many in the media attributed to Pope Francis as signaling a change in the Church’s stance on homosexuals. It turns out that this was not the case once the clarification was later published in a book. Below is the excerpt:

“On that occasion I said this: If a person is gay and seeks out the Lord and is willing, who am I to judge that person? I was paraphrasing by heart the Catechism of the Catholic Church where it says that these people should be treated with delicacy and not be marginalized. I am glad that we are talking about “homosexual people” because before all else comes the individual person, in his wholeness and dignity. And people should not be defined only by their sexual tendencies: let us not forget that God loves all his creatures and we are destined to receive his infinite love. I prefer that homosexuals come to confession, that they stay close to the Lord, and that we pray all together. You can advise them to pray, show goodwill, show them the way, and accompany them along it.”

Pope Francis & Oonagh Stransky. “The Name of God Is Mercy.” Random House, 2016-12-01. iBooks.

Can we assume, that maybe, the same sentiment was there when he spoke to Juan Carlos? I think we can and we should. After reading articles about the latest remark, I feel that many must have no idea that Francis clarified what he had said about who is he to judge. Some think his latest remark is just further dissent from Church teaching.

In addition to secular news outlets, there are some clergy and certain Catholic news agencies buying into the notion that Francis is out to destroy the Church. Some are even saying there is the existence of a Shadow Magisterium (I’ll address this in a different post). All this over something we have no transcript or proof of. It is baffling how even they (especially the clergy) can jump on the path of criticism over something merely attributed to the Pope; a supposed quote from him that we have no proof of (besides Juan Carlos Cruz). The whole thing is disheartening. Those who think he continues to change Church doctrine for the better or those who believe he is destroying the Church from the inside need to stop assuming until we actually know what he said. Then and only then can we talk about what what his words mean. My heart goes out to Juan Carlos, but he should have respected that it was a private audience and that the conversation was meant to be between him and the Pope. Now there are lots of people making assumptions about changes in Church doctrine when they’re not even sure or concerned that what they have heard is accurate.

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