say what?

Pretty much every week lately there has been some new "scandal" surrounding something that Pope Francis has "said." First he "said" something about it being fine to be gay, then he "said" atheists go to heaven, and now in 12,000 words ripe for misinterpretation he has "said" that love is all that matters, and we should stop talking about abortion, gay marriage and contraception. 

Except he didn't really say any of those things. And then, when he speaks out strongly against gay marriage or abortion the media makes statements like "Pope Francis encouraged Catholic doctors to refuse to perform abortions today in a bizarre U-turn on comments yesterday that condemned the church's obsession with such 'small-minded things'. ~Daily Mail

All the ((un?) intentional) misrepresentations of his statements are getting SO OLD. A good rule of thumb is: If the secular mainstream (especially liberal) media says that Pope Francis said something scandalous (especially if it was something they would want him to say) then you can bet they've got the story wrong.

And why wouldn't they? "For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:8.

Francis himself in a beautiful address to the media, right after his election talks about this exact issue:

I am particularly grateful to those who viewed and presented these events of the Church’s history in a way which was sensitive to the right context in which they need to be read, namely that of faith. Historical events almost always demand a nuanced interpretation which at times can also take into account the dimension of faith. Ecclesial events are certainly no more intricate than political or economic events! But they do have one particular underlying feature: they follow a pattern which does not readily correspond to the “worldly” categories which we are accustomed to use, and so it is not easy to interpret and communicate them to a wider and more varied public. The Church is certainly a human and historical institution with all that that entails, yet her nature is not essentially political but spiritual: the Church is the People of God, the Holy People of God making its way to encounter Jesus Christ. Only from this perspective can a satisfactory account be given of the Church’s life and activity.

The thing that is really frustrating is that the media's misunderstandings are being declared as facts and other Christians are reading those headlines, and thinking they're true.

Francis' casual and hands-on approach has gotten the world's attention. Everyone is listening to hear what he's going to say next. He is busy living out the love of Jesus in an open and unscripted way. It's not that he could never mis-speak, he's not a perfect man and that means slip-ups are possible but he must think it's worth the risk.

Francis has decided to approach the world on casual terms, and the world has responded with overwhelming love for him, if not always perfect understanding of the faith.....Pope Francis wants a dialogue with the world conducted in the manner of an after-dinner conversation.  ~First Things

So next time you hear that Pope Francis said something that confuses or troubles you, go and find out what he actually said, and read it with the eyes of faith. If you're still confused I'd be happy to discuss it with you!

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