Pity Poor Pope Francis. Every time he opens his mouth he makes headlines, and more often than not the press gets it wrong. The good news is that public seems to love him no matter what he says.
Well, not everybody.
Recently His Holiness said that the Catholic Church does not encourage humans “to breed like rabbits.” Rather, he said, husbands and wives should exercise responsible parenthood and have only the number of children they can afford to raise and educate.
Enter the rabbit lobby.
His nose quivering with outrage, the president of The Rabbit Breeders Association of Germany took offense at the suggestion that rabbits … well, that rabbits breed like rabbits. He argues that domesticated rabbits, unlike the wild kind, breed at a reasonable rate. He then goes on to challenge the Pope on the issue of artificial contraception. There I get lost. Rabbits? Condoms? Is it possible …? No, I’m not going there.
Anyway, since Europeans are way ahead of Yanks in appreciating rabbit as a cuisine delicacy, I am surprised that their rabbit breeders apparently favor a two- child family. As for the Pope, all he meant to say is that the Church’s negative view of artificial birth control does not mean that every family should produce a platoon of offspring. Sex is a wonderful gift from God meant to be enjoyed in a way that does not conflict with its biological purpose.
Pope Francis is a warm, loving person who encounters new people first and foremost as children of God, his brothers and sisters, not as Protestants, Catholics, Muslims, atheists, or whatever. In this he is just like Jesus, who interacted even with Roman-lackey tax collectors and prostitutes.
Why these lowlifes? Because as down-and-outers they could understand and appreciate his message of love and forgiveness. Then as now the educated, the powerful, the elite of his day were not in the habit of listening to anybody but themselves. They were their own gods. So Jesus “hung out” with the ostracized, the poor, the hungry. He embraced the sinner, not the sin. Remember, he saved the life of the woman caught in adultery, but told her not to commit that sin again.
The current Pope sees his Catholic Church is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for the saved. True, sometimes in the past (and even today) those who represent the Catholic Church have seemed to stress God’s stern face rather than his love and mercy, but Pope Francis, while not going soft on doctrine, is remedying that.
Pope Francis is so refreshing because he is the antithesis of the clever, cautious, spinning politicians who dominate the media stage today. Those folks do not trade in the truth. Obfuscation is their ideal. God forbid that anyone might know what they are really thinking or planning.
Granted that the Pope’s words sometimes seem to contradict what he stands for, but that is only because the jaded media is so eager to make headlines. They are looking for the gaffe. How they love gaffes. Ask Joe Biden.
Francis doesn’t play that game, and that gives him a freedom other public figures envy. Reporters with an agenda (or sometimes merely ignorant) leap on a few words or take them out of context. Speaking about a gay priest attempting to live a chaste life, Francis says, “Who am I to judge?” Immediately headlines suggest that the Church is changing its position on homosexual behavior. Not so.
The Holy Father, discussing the issue of unrestrained free speech after the Paris massacres, said that insulting speech can be expected to provoke a violent reaction. Call his mother a harlot and he is likely to bop you. That’s just common sense. He did not justify such violence, he merely recognized what happens in real life. No matter how unlimited is our right to free speech, we have a moral duty to restrain from hurtful, insulting words.
The Pope takes on unfettered capitalism as he has seen it operate in Central and South America. He condemns the greed and oppression of the poor that can pervert capitalism, and Rush Limbaugh calls him a Marxist. Oh come on, Rush. That’s the problem with the reporting and interpretation of what Francis says.
The media is often just plain ignorant of what the Catholic Church teaches, so they jump on a few words and make fools of themselves.
Because his approach to everybody and every subject is wrapped in love, people easily enough figure out what he means. He gets the benefit of the doubt that some of his words (as reported) may have created, and the Rush Limbaughs and other Wise Ones of the Right and Left get ignored.
Anyhow, Br’er Rabbit and Bugs Bunny and their multitudinous kin need not worry. Pope Francis loves them no matter how many little ones they produce. That German guy was just interested in making more lettuce (forgive me).