Rome (AFP) - Pope Francis raised eyebrows in Italy on Tuesday by slapping down the left-leaning mayor of Rome as someone who “pretends to be Catholic”.
The unforgiving assessment of Ignazio Marino – a man the Italian media love to hate – further heightened tensions between the pope and the mayor in the run-up to the start of the Holy Year of Mercy in December, with the Vatican fearful the Italian capital is ill-prepared for the millions of extra pilgrims.
“He pretends to be Catholic, it came on him all of a sudden. It doesn’t happen like that,” Francis said.
The pope’s cutting comments on the politician – who observers say rubbed the pontiff up the wrong way with his vocal support of gay marriage and euthanasia – came as Francis returned from a barnstorming visit to the United States and Cuba.
He’s the bishop of the diocese of Rome. He is the most fitting person to offer condemnation of public officials in that diocese and in the country of Italy. Even as the Pope, he is not the most fitting person to offer condemnation of US public officials. US bishops are better suited for that.
The Catholic Church has a tradition of upholding the principle of subsidiarity.
Subsidiarity is an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority.The Oxford English Dictionary defines subsidiarity as the idea that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level.
So by that token the American citizens that also happen to be Catholic issues should be handled by the local Bishop that has proper authority over them.
Right. And Pope Francis does not wish to undermine his fellow bishops’ authority. Does he rebuke them if they flout riches? Yes. But he sees himself, first and foremost, as Bishop of Rome. And while being Bishop of Rome makes him the successor of Peter, and with that the Vicar of Christ - with the special authority that belongs to that office - he recognizes that it is up to each bishop to properly pastor his own diocese. This was part of the point of his sermon to the bishops gathered at the World Meeting of Families. He was imploring the bishops to be more involved in pastoring their dioceses (which is why his change to canon law involving annulment cases focuses on the bishops - allowing them to fasttrack cases that are pretty obvious and requiring the bishops to be active members of the tribunal that hears annulment cases) and less on being administrators.
This isn’t the first misunderstanding of the Pope’s office that I’ve seen. At times it seems to be ubiquitous in the news section. The Pope has a make-believe burden placed on his shoulders of being obligated to micromanage addressing every specific political situation in every single country. That’s not his job, nor should it be. We have dioceses and conferences of bishops for a reason. He’s the current Bishop of Rome, in addition to Christ’s Vicar. He toils in his diocese, among his flock, and he counsels (and, when necessary, administrates) the bishops around the world.
I’ve read about St JP2 and I don’t recall him either being very expressly political during his travels, such as to Mexico. His goal was to meet with the bishops and the people, and to provide them encouragement and hope.
It’s not hard to see the prudence of this. Foreigners make poor critics. It’s always much better to hear condemnation come from a person living with you. An Argentine Pope living in Italy traveling to another country (a traditionally protestant country, no less) to condemn that country’s Congress. No no no. The bishops should do that. It’s much better that way.
The principle of subsidiarity has to do with the order of society, not with the order of the clergy. The pope has universal and immediate jurisdiction over the whole Church. He can interfere with local churches whenever he wants. And he is free to rebuke political rulers all over the world as he sees fit.
Yes, but it is NOT practice for the Pope to do so in non-Catholic countries. The Pope might say something to Malta (like he did when they legalized same-sex marriage) but he’s not going directly get involved with non-Catholic nations, like the United States. He typically will leave that up to the local bishops.
This is not because he feels the message is not valid to them, but rather that he Popes often feel that the local bishops know the people and opposing arguments much better.
The key to changing the culture in America is for Catholics to start coming to Church.
Bishop Barron had a great point during his keynote address at the World Meeting of Families. He said that ONE of the reasons America is become so secular is because only 25% of Catholic attend Mass every Sunday. He said that the Eucharist is the summit of the Christian life, and only 25% of Catholics come to Mass, its no wonder we are getting confused.
Dr. Scott Hahn also had a good point during his talk at the World Meeting… if all Catholics would accept and practice the Church’s teachings regarding the family and the Sacrament of Matrimony, the US would be a Christian nation again in 40 years. But that’s not going to happen if only 25% of Catholics come to Mass.
The key to fixing our culture is to fill the pews at Mass.
This reminds me of the oddity about the Church that struck Chesterton. It was accused of contradictory things. It’s too rich, it’s too poor. It’s too works oriented, it’s too prayer oriented. It’s over involved, it’s under involved. Etc.
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; 19 the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”[f] Matt11:18-19
A specific denunciation of abortion (calling sin by its proper name), without naming the personalities who support it, would have been appropriate. He called us out on the death penalty; why not on abortion?
Interesting story but I don’t see any “blasting” in the transcript of the press conference. The Pope is indeed asked about the mayor showing up in Philadelphia and he says:
“I did not invite Mayor Marino. Is that clear? I didn’t do it and I asked the organizers and they didn’t invite him either. He came. He professes to be a Catholic and he came spontaneously. That’s the first thing. But it is clear, heh?”
Here’s the Italian: “io non ho invitato il sindaco Marino. Chiaro? Io non l’ho fatto. Ho chiesto agli organizzatori, e neppure loro l’hanno invitato. Lui è venuto, lui si professa cattolico, è venuto spontaneamente. E’ stato così. Prima cosa.”
I have little confidence in the ability of the “main stream media” to accurately report on anything related to the Pope but, if this story is based only on what the Pope said on the plane, then it is way off and I still have too much confidence in the MSM…
But in the same breath, we are told to preach with love and not doctrine. He kind of did the opposite, and that is the opposite of what we are asking the Bishops to do (not that I think they shouldn’t).
Tell that to the non-Americans on Catholics Answers.
He did. He said we are called to respect life at ALL stages of it’s development. He was refereeing to BOTH abortion and euthanasia. Then, he mentioned the death penalty. He just didn’t state abortion and euthanasia by name.
He had a strategic reason for handling it that way. Perhaps he didn’t want to be the cause of violent protests by pro-choice radicals in NYC and Philly, putting lives in danger? Or perhaps, he didn’t want them to tune out to the rest of his speech?
If you want to argue that it would have been better to use the words, I think you can make your case. But to say that he didn’t mention it silly. Plus EVERYONE in the know, knows that the Pope is pro Life. Radical pro-abortion people were protesting before he even arrived.
But that Pope Francis “showed no mercy” is perhaps only a headline writer’s spin on it. As noted, this did occur in the diocese of Rome, and Pope Francis is the Bishop of Rome. I recall that what Pope Francis said last week was that U.S. bishops should not rely solely on doctrine as they preach but have a more pastoral approach.
There is very obviously division among U.S. Catholics, and it would seem it was this issue that Pope Franciis was addressing in his remarks to U.S. bishops.