Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How Philippine media distorts Pope Francis's words on contraception, abortion, and homosexual marriage

How media distorts Pope Francis' words
How media distorts Pope Francis' words
Philippine Star and Rappler publishes an article by Agence France-Presse entitled (with slight variations), "Philippine Church 'right' despite Pope Francis' comments".  The first paragraph reads:
The country's Catholic leaders stand firm against contraception, abortion, and homosexual marriage, despite Pope Francis' statements urging a change of perspective on these issues. (Philippine Star)
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Catholic leaders are standing firm against contraception, abortion and homosexual marriage despite Pope Francis' comments urging a change of tone on those issues, the national Church said Tuesday, September 24. (Rappler)
My Reply:

This technique used by Agence France-Presse (AFP) is called reframing--putting a different background to a quote to make it appear opposite to its original meaning.  In this way, AFP makes it appear that the bishops, because of their opposition to contraception, abortion, and same-sex marriage, are not in line with the Pope Francis's thoughts. This reminds me of what Gandalf said regarding the Stones of Seeing:
Gentle Giant Lord of the Rings Saruman Bust with Light-Up Palantir
Gentle Giant Lord of the Rings Saruman Bust with Light-Up Palantir

The Stones of Seeing do not lie, and not even the Lord of Baraddur can make them do so. He can, maybe, by his will choose what things shall be seen by weaker minds, or cause them to mistake the meaning of what they see. (The Last Debate, The Lord of the Rings, p. 878)
A. Relevant Excerpts in Pope Francis's Interview

Let's put Pope Francis's quote in its actual context in the article, Big Heart Open to God, published in America Magazine.  I shall put the important words in boldface:


Pope Francis: The Pope From the End of the Earth
Pope Francis: The Pope From the End of the Earth

“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.

“This is also the great benefit of confession as a sacrament: evaluating case by case and discerning what is the best thing to do for a person who seeks God and grace. The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better. I also consider the situation of a woman with a failed marriage in her past and who also had an abortion. Then this woman remarries, and she is now happy and has five children. That abortion in her past weighs heavily on her conscience and she sincerely regrets it. She would like to move forward in her Christian life. What is the confessor to do?

Bioethics, Law, and Human Life Issues: A Catholic Perspective on Marriage, Family, Contraception, Abortion, Reproductive Technology, and Death and Dying (Catholic Social Thought)
Bioethics, Law, and Human Life Issues: A Catholic Perspective on Marriage, Family, Contraception, Abortion, Reproductive Technology, and Death and Dying (Catholic Social Thought)
We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.
“The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.

“I say this also thinking about the preaching and content of our preaching. A beautiful homily, a genuine sermon must begin with the first proclamation, with the proclamation of salvation. There is nothing more solid, deep and sure than this proclamation. Then you have to do catechesis. Then you can draw even a moral consequence. But the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives. Today sometimes it seems that the opposite order is prevailing. The homily is the touchstone to measure the pastor’s proximity and ability to meet his people, because those who preach must recognize the heart of their community and must be able to see where the desire for God is lively and ardent. The message of the Gospel, therefore, is not to be reduced to some aspects that, although relevant, on their own do not show the heart of the message of Jesus Christ.”

B. What the Church Teaches Regarding Homosexuality, Contraception, and Abortion
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Catechism of the Catholic Church

Normally, in Apologetics, we discuss abortion, gay marriage, and contraception individually by quoting the relevant teachings in the Bible, the Catechism, and the Church Fathers.  Pope Francis said that the teaching of the church regarding these things is clear, this means that there is no argument regarding what the Church actually teaches.  You can check these things in the Catechism.  Here are some examples:
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.158 These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil.
2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. "A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,"77 "by the very commission of the offense,"78 and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law.79 The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.
Homosexuality and the Catholic Church
Homosexuality and the Catholic Church
Since Pope Francis says he is "a son of the Church," then he abides by these teachings as a son would listen to his mother's teachings, for the Church is our Mother, because through her we were born again as adopted sons and daughters of God through the Sacrament of Baptism.  But what he suggests is to discuss these issues in their proper context, and these issues need not even be discussed all the time.  This does not mean that the Church's teachings regarding these things are wrong.  What he is only saying is that we have to put them in their proper context or frame, but this frame is not the same as that what Agence France-Presse and Philippine Media seem to suggest.  The proper context is this: the Salvation offered by Christ as told in the Gospel.  For pastors giving homilies, what Pope Francis is saying is that they should not immediately preach hell-fire and brimstone against homosexuality, contraception, and abortion.  Rather, they should preach first the proclamation of salvation, then catechesis, then morals.  Let us discuss these in more detail:

C. Pope Francis's Suggested Outline of a Homily for Priests and Missionaries

Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels: St. Matthew (Volume 1)
Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels: St. Matthew (Volume 1)

  1. Gospel .  Gospel originally means "Good News".  What is the Good News?  The Good News is this: "God so loved the world that he gave* his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life "(Jn 3:16) The coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the climax of salvation history that began with the Fall of Adam and Eve, and the promise of a redeemer: " I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel. (Gen 3:15)"  And in the fullness of time, God fulfilled His promise through a woman whom Angel Gabriel addressed as "Ave Maria", the woman who by her humble obedience would undo Eve's disobedience.  And from Mary was born our Savior, Jesus Christ, Who shall crush the head of Satan, the Murderer From the Beginning and the Father of Lies (c.f. Jn 8:44), for " the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil. (1 Jn 3:8)"  Christ established the Church through Peter in order to sanctify the world with the following mission: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.9h Go, therefore,* and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,20i teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.* And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” That is why the Church continues to exist until today.  All these things God did just to convert a sinner such as you and I.  Unbelievable, but it is true.  Because there is only one reason: God loves us.  God loves you.  God loves me.  God loves all of us--even the homosexuals, those who use contraceptives, or those who went through abortion.  All of us.  But love does not mean to condone the sin, but to call them to repentance, as a man calls and searches for his lost sheep.  As Christ said: "There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. (Lk 15:7)"
  2. Rediscovering Aquinas and the Sacraments: Studies in Sacramental Theology
    Rediscovering Aquinas and the Sacraments: Studies in Sacramental Theology

  3. Catechesis.  This can be anything in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that is related to the Gospel of the day.  This can be the Ten Commandments, the Seven Sacraments, the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, the Seven Capital Sins, etc.  If the Gospel for the Day is about the Prodigal Son, then the homilist may like to talk about the Sacrament of Confession, which Pope Francis also mentions in his interview: "The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better."
  4. Morals. After talking about the Gospel and Salvation History, and also some Catechesis, the homilist can now finally talk about morals--the application of religious truths to our own personal lives.  Thus, the homilist can now finally talk about homosexuality, contraception, and abortion.  This is what Pope Francis refers to as the proper context for discussing these things.






Pope Francis: Conversations with Jorge Bergoglio: His Life in His Own Words
Pope Francis: Conversations with Jorge Bergoglio: His Life in His Own Words

On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family, and the Church in the Twenty-First Century

Francis: Pope of a New World
Francis: Pope of a New World

The Light of Faith: Lumen Fidei
The Light of Faith: Lumen Fidei