The big Catholic story making the rounds today is that a papal blessing was given to an author of children’s books that promote homosexuality and gender theory. Given in such a way that it allegedly implied some form of approval from the Holy Father.
As you might expect, this is more than a little controversial. And as you also might expect, secular media outlets are wallowing in the filthy joy this gives them, and Catholic sources are falling all over themselves to say it isn’t so. Sources like Phil Lawler, who apparently know all there is to know about the situation and can assure you that there’s nothing to see here:
The Guardian headline is an eye-catcher:
Pope Francis sends letter praising gay children’s book
Wow! That’s newsworthy material for sure, isn’t it? Let’s take a closer look.
Did the Pope write the letter in question? No.
Did the letter praise the book? No.
So what’s the real story? There is none. But don’t expect that fact to stem the tide of inaccurate reports, flowing through the mass media, following the Guardian’s lead.
Here’s the reality: An author whose books are sympathetic toward same-sex partnerships wrote to Pope Francis. She received a polite reply from a Vatican official. That’s the whole story, and if you have trouble thinking of an appropriate headline, maybe it’s because there’s nothing worth reporting.
So what’s the truth?
Well, there’s only so much we know. Here’s a quick rundown of what happened from LifeSiteNews:
Italian children’s author Francesca Pardi was reported by The Guardian to have submitted a parcel of children’s books promoting the acceptance of homosexuality and gender theory to Pope Francis in June after Venice’s mayor Luigi Brugnaro publicly banned the author’s newest book, Piccolo Uovo (Little Egg), from children’s schools. The book was criticized by pro-family leaders for promoting non-natural family structures of two men and two women.
In a letter accompanying the books, Pardi wrote: “Many parishes across the country are in this period sullying our name and telling falsehoods about our work which deeply offends us. We have respect for Catholics. … A lot of Catholics give back the same respect, why can’t we have the whole hierarchy of the church behind us?”
The Guardian is reporting that Pardi has now “found an unlikely supporter in Pope Francis,” who through his staff has responded to the author and is presented as “praising her work.” It quotes the following from a July 9 letter to Pardi from the Vatican.
“His holiness is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings which it evoked, hoping for an always more fruitful activity in the service of young generations and the spread of genuine human and Christian values,” wrote Peter B. Wells, a senior official at the Vatican Secretariat of State, in a the letter The Guardian is reporting it has seen.
While the letter gently calls the author to use her talents to spread “genuine human and Christian values,” The Guardian takes it as the pope’s endorsement of gender theory.
In a press release that Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi sent to LifeSiteNews on Friday, the vice speaker of the Vatican, Ciro Benedettini, made clear that the friendly reply letter to the author in no way approves of attitudes or positions that are contrary to Catholic teaching and the Gospels.
The Vatican’s statement also says that in the original letter from the secretariat of state Wells merely “acknowledged receipt” of the materials sent by Pardi, and also made clear that the letter was private and not meant for publication.
“In no way does a letter from the Secretary of State intend to endorse behaviors and teachings not in keeping with the Gospel,” says the statement, decrying the “manipulation” of the letter.
Benedettini said the blessing of the pope at the end of the letter was meant to be for the author herself, and not to affirm positions concerning gender theory that are contrary to the Church’s teaching. Using the letter to this end is erroneous, he said.
It really makes you want to see the whole letter, doesn’t it? Context is pretty important here. Without it, we can’t really know what was said, or how it was expressed.
But that doesn’t mean that those of us who are completely exasperated by yet another story such as this deserve a scolding for thinking it might be true.
After all, we have a pope who has turned “who am I to judge” into a rhetorical cudgel that every faithful Catholic now has wielded against them with regularity. A pope who thinks we talk too much about issues like gay marriage. A pope who had no problem publicly honoring a member of the Italian clergy who is famous for promoting homosexuality. A pope who intervened personally to reinstate without qualification a Catholic priest whose work was suppressed by the CDF for promoting, among other things, the idea that homosexual relationships are not disordered. A pope who has made a priest with a scandalous and salacious homosexual record into the administrator of his own household and one of the point men at the Vatican bank. A pope who has conspicuously held a private audience with a “married” transgendered person at the Vatican, met with a “married” gay activist in Paraguay, and met with a group of gay and transgendered prisoners in Naples. A pope who appointed a priest known for comparing gay sex to the Eucharist as a Consultor for Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. A pope who has empowered prelates like Cardinal Walter Kasper (who supports communion for the divorced and remarried, and the same-sex marriage vote in Ireland) and Archbishop Bruno Forte, who inserted the troubling language about homosexual persons into the last Synod’s mid-term relatio, and the entire German bishops’ conference, which is the largest and most influential power block at the Synod and which has now, through one of their “moral theologians,” indicated that they believe “gay marriage” is a sacrament.
These are only some of the most obvious examples that come to mind. We haven’t even begun to unpack the records of those who have been invited by Pope Francis to have a voice at the Synod, among whom are prelates (like Bishop Bonny of Antwerp) who openly defy Church teaching on sexuality. Cardinal Daneels (who supports “gay marriage,” has been embroiled in sexual abuse scandals, and who advised the King of Belgium to legalize abortion), and others.
Yes, Jesus ate with sinners and prostitutes. But he also called them to conversion.
Yes, when possible, charity demands that we should give the benefit of the doubt, especially to the Vicar of Christ.
But having a doubt (from which one might derive a benefit) about all of this has become exceedingly difficult, when again and again and again we are confronted with facts that undermine our confidence that Pope Francis actually desires to uphold Church teaching on these issues – a few throwaway comments about gender theory notwithstanding. If he disagrees with these agendas, he should not allow himself to be co-opted and painted as The Pope Who Will Change Things. He should instead be taking every opportunity possible to condemn these evils, and to remove those who promote them from power.
We’re all waiting for this to happen. It looks like we’ll be waiting a long time.
Of course, even if Pope Francis is in favor of allowing the pro-homosexual forces in the Church to advance their cause as it sometimes appears, he won’t ever come right out and support them through a direct statement. He can’t. Indefectibility is a real character of the Church, and it’s not going to happen.
But if Pope Francis is impeded by the Divine Hand from doing such things, others in the hierarchy are not. And he has allowed many of the worst of these complete freedom to operate, disseminating error and scandal throughout the ranks of the faithful. They are doing so even now, and for their dalliances with the Devil, they receive not even the slightest discipline.
It is at moments like these when it is helpful to recall the words of Pope Felix III (as quoted by Pope Leo XIII in Inimica Vis):
“An error which is not resisted is approved; a truth which is not defended is suppressed…. He who does not oppose an evident crime is open to the suspicion of secret complicity.”
UPDATE (9/2/2015): Francesca Pardi sought to clarify the matter in a Facebook post. The following image is a Google translation of that post. It makes the matter of the full text of the letter even more relevant:
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have eight children. You can find more of his writing at his Substack, The Skojec File.
We cover such critical issues you state in this article in this small but Global Catholic Petition. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/concerns-of-laity-and-clergy-to-the-holy-father
I appreciate what you’re trying to do with the petition. Generally, I don’t support petition drives to the pope. It’s his job to…well, do his job. And he shouldn’t be listening to the masses for guidance.
I’ve promoted the Filial Appeal because it has struck such a nerve and received so many signatures. But also because in simply promoting it (and its popularity) it underscores a significant point: for perhaps the first time in history, Catholics feel the need to plead with a Roman Pontiff to just be Catholic.
First time in history Catholics feel the need to plead with the Pope to be Catholic? Really? Maybe you’re too young to remember the reaction to the new mass, St. JPII’s inter-religious dialogue, Assisi I and II, ecumenism, kissing of the Koran, and his asking for St. John the Baptist to “protect Islam”. Then we had the hysterical reactions to Pope Benedict’s “socialism” in Caritas in Veritate.
Serious question. How many more papacies of the likes of Paul VI, St.JPII and Francis will you have to experience until you start to think that maybe your understanding of the Catholic religion is different than God’s?
How many papacies? Well, to even things up I guess there would have to be roughly another 260 bad ones or so.
Well the deeper you go into history the easier it is to project on the Popes your pre-conceived notions. My reading of papal history has been that each Pope has been more “liberal” than his predecessor. PX radically alters the psalter then BenXV alters canon law then PXI allows dialogue masses then Pius XII changes the Holy Week liturgy and appoints Archbishop Bugnini to reform the liturgy then JXIII gives us V2 then PVI gives us new mass then JPII gives us altar girls then BXVI gives us condoms “more moral” in certain situations and now we have Pope Francis. Maybe the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you something.
I think the Holy Spirit is telling me that there have been bad popes during certain times in Catholic history and they were opposed in various ways by the faithful and certain saints that God rose up to defend His Church. And His Church survived. Willard, what is the Holy Spirit telling you ?
The Holy Spirit has been telling me that the Catholic Church is God’s church and that the Pope is his Holy Vicar on earth. That each pope, in his own way, tried to better the condition of the world that he lived in. Whether that was sanctuary, defense of Jews against pogroms, opposition to slavery or defense of religious liberty. That the Popes have always tried to teach Christ’s own summation of the gospel found in Luke 10:27, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Ah, but Matthew 22:37-39 states, “Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” To love God is first and primary, while loving your neighbor flows from following the first and greatest commandment, which is to love God. Now, compare this to Guadium Et Spes which conflates Sacred Scripture, “For
this reason, love for God and neighbor is the first and greatest commandment”. They are not both the first and greatest commandment. There is an order to them as Jesus clearly labels them first and second. But again, we have gotten the order out of whack since Vatican II, and neighbor is placed as an equal to God or even worse, above God.
John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commandments.”
If this Pope really loved the sinners he would call them to repentance and would not affirm them in their sins. This Pope seem to be pretty egocentric and it’s all about him and his I’m humble- I’m different and I’m cool -show. Francis is a good populist but a poor teacher and bad pastor.He is turning the focus away from Christ and the Gospel tricking people into thinking following Jesus is an easy thing.
Where does the existence of reforming Popes like Gregory VII fit into your reading of history? Do you seriously think that he was more liberal than his predecessors? Or does “history” for you only mean the last 100 years?
Maybe an addition question could be: When does an individual pope’s understanding of the Catholic religion differ from God’s understanding of the Catholic religion ?
I’m young and I’m ashamed and sad how Pope JPII, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis denied and betrayed Christ many times to please and appease the world and other religions. After Assisi, praising anti-Christian religions these Popes lost pretty much their credibility of being the vicar of Christ and the rock of the Church. We have indeed weak Popes but at least Pope JPII and Benedict protected, defended the Catholic marriage and moral with passion and showed their true colours. Pope Francis in contrast seem to have a hidden agenda since he is selling out the Catholic faith to a point were Papacy becomes useless. This Pope is big on confusing and discouraging faithful Catholics but not on evangelisation and converting people to Christ.
I agree with you, Frauke. We MUST remember that Popes are men, human beings and that means they are flawed. They make mistakes, they can be negatively influenced. We Catholics seem to think they are supermen. They aren’t. We hope and pray that they are holy, but even holy people screw up. We have had some bad popes over the centuries and we have had truly sainted ones. We must pray for Francis as well as the Church Herself. Allow this time of confusion to bring you closer to the Faith, to Christ Himself. When you hear the words of Pope Francis (who has yet to speak ex cathedra), go to your Catechism, go to the Bible, go to Confession, go to Mass and pray to Christ, asking for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, then go out and live the Faith by practicing the corporal and spiritual acts of mercy. Ask for the Blessed Mother for her intercession. We have got to stop fussing and complaining and wringing our hands and get back to basics. We must put our faith in Jesus Christ, not Pope Francis or any other Pope for that matter. They are to be shepherds and the vicar of Christ, yes. But they aren’t Jesus Christ. Only He is the King.Only He is Lord. Only He is the Most High. Only He is Holy (taken from the Gloria). No one else. We are not to get caught up in worry, anxiety or idol worship. All are straight from Satan himself and distract us from God’s Will for our lives. Speak the Truth whenever you are called to do it. Not man’s truth, but the Truth. God bless.
I am so distraught. I feel like I am sinning when I criticize the Holy Father. Well actually I don’t understand him because I don’t think that he would do anything deliberately bad but sometimes I could just cry . For goodness sakes I am so disappointed in many of our Cardinal and Bishops. I am so disappointed in some of our schools when they cave and don’t teach the Faith and allow those living in contradiction of Church teaching to teach our young. What is going on?
Then don’t criticize him. Rather, criticize his errors, his falsehoods, his failure to teach the faith, his actions and omissions.
A rule of thumb should be that if you would correct a child learning their catechism when they get it wrong, then the Pope is subject to the same rule of faith as the rest of us and so is similarly subject to correction. We cannot judge his culpability for an error, but an error is an error, is an error, and it does not become true just because one dons a white cassock.
We could spend lots of time speculating as to why the Pope does not have a better grasp of his catechism than a 7 year old child, but that would be rather fruitless as there is nothing we can do about it. What we can do is refute error and teach truth to everybody who will listen. It is on what we do and say that we will be judged – the Pope can worry about his own salvation. which will no doubt be affected by those he chooses to listen to.
I think the reason why people get frustrated is that it is difficult to teach the truth to those who we are in charge of (children, students etc) when there is a greater person teaching (or strongly hinting) the contrary.
While wearing a white cassock does not make every word infallible. It does make one an authoritative figure that most would naturally look to for guidance. This is especially true in regards to things that are disputed or hard to accept.
Then there is also the cause for self doubt. A person can start to suspect whether they ever knew the Catholic faith correctly. They might think that perhaps what the Pope is saying and what others are saying is the true Catholic faith?
So the situation is kind of complex and requires one to be somewhat mature in ones spirituality (have a well developed sense of detachment, strong belief that what one has already received is the truth and one is not mistaken etc.) in order to be able to comfortably deal with it. The average Catholic is not going to be at that level.
I think its unfair that you frame the discussion as one about being concerned about the salvation of the Pope.
I certainly agree that it will be difficult for the “average” Catholic to cut their way through this morass of Bergoglio’s making. If by “average” you are referring to a modal average, then the average Catholic has not been to Church since their First Holy Communion, never goes to Mass, never goes to Confession, never prays and still has an understanding of the Faith that they acquired at the age of 7.
He might well be an authoritative figure to whom Catholics would normally turn for guidance, but when he can totally contradict himself in the space of minutes, and frequently spouts his personal opinions which are patently nonsense, then surely common sense would dictate that we should stop listening to him and write him off as 39 of his predecessors have been written off as antipopes or heretics.
I think its a little odd that you should characterize being concerned about the salvation of the Pope as being unfair. I think we should be very concerned about it. The teaching, facilitating, promoting of sin as a virtue or putting it on the same level as a sacrament is just about the worst thing that anybody ordained to teach the Catholic Faith can do. It puts them in league with antichrist, with the devil himself. I sincerely hope his culpability for his transgressions is impaired or mitigated, or if it is not, that he comes to genuine repentance for the way he has conducted himself in office before he dies.
I think the issue is that the Pope is indeed the person whom most Catholics will normally turn to for guidance. For this to not be possible means to venture in to abnormal territory which should naturally frustrate a person. As much as I agree with you on regular mass attendance, frequent confessions and prayer, I am not sure it can alleviate this natural feeling of frustration.
At the end of the day, more Catholic a person tends to be, the more difficult it should be to say I am going to disregard anything that this Pope is saying because he just doesn’t seem to be coherent etc. It is more natural to think that the errors lies with ones own self. So the more they delay in saying it, the more frustrated they become as they try to make sense of what the Pope is saying.
On your last paragraph, I think you might have mistaken my point. I was not saying that you were unfair in considering the salvation of the Pope. I was only saying that you were unfairly framing the discussion as being one in regards to the Pope’s salvation. So I was merely trying to say that the frustration of the OP that you replied to does not come from necessarily being concerned for the salvation of the Pope.
I also support and signed the huge petition, but learning this from Church Militant after the petition was done, so I started the smaller one to add to the many issues covered in the filial petition.
definitely not the first time in history.
so…our Bishops will be voting about this issues in a catholic synod about the family. I feel really, really, really sick.
The fact that errors is not to be resisted seems to come from Vatican II itself. The entire framework for ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue pretty much seems to scream “don’t resist errors”.
When is the last time we heard any of the post-Vatican II Popes speak publicly about the errors and dangers of Protestantism instructing the faithful to be careful? Or for that matter, the errors of Islam, Hinduism and other religions? Instead, they have heaped praise upon praise and prayed with them.
So in such a setting, I do not think it surprising to see sodomy or some other moral issue get the same treatment. It is sad, yes. Shocking? Not any more. Sodomy is just getting the same treatment today that heresy has been getting for the last 50 years.
Exactly. So, there must be another agenda in play with Pope Francis. My guess? His outspoken opposition to American style “conservatism”.
Um, to give you my best guess, I think the agenda has always been “lets be buddies with the enemies of the Church”. I think that this agenda did not exist in Popes before Vatican II and that the agenda leads to self-destruction.
I do not consider it as some personal implementation of Luke 10:27 as well. After all, pre-Vatican II Popes weren’t in favor of things like ecumenism.
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Thank you, Steven, for the quote from Inimici Vis. What a short, but very powerful, encyclical Pope Leo XIII wrote to call his bishops to action.
Fides Intrepid, indeed.
The whole paragraph in which that line is taken is worthy of remembrance in regards to this situation because the tone of the letter is obviously that of “dialogue” which is the hallmark of the pastoral approach after the Vatican II.
Next, we must heal those who have erred in this respect out of faint-heartedness, that is, those who, not because of a debased nature but because of weakness of spirit and lack of discretion, have allowed themselves to be drawn into supporting the Masonic enterprises. Sufficiently weighty are the words of Our predecessor Felix III in this regard. “An error which is not resisted is approved; a truth which is not defended is suppressed…. He who does not oppose an evident crime is open to the suspicion of secret complicity.” By reminding them of the examples of their forefathers, the broken spirits of these men must be reanimated with that courage which is the guardian of duty and dignity alike, so that they may be ashamed and regret their cowardly actions. For surely our whole life is involved in a constant battle in which our salvation itself is at stake; nothing is more disgraceful for a Christian than cowardice.
There is also one other sentence that struck me as well, and made me wonder if even a nuclear war would have been as destructive to the Faith as the spirit of dialogue which is the essence of the “Spirit of Vatican II”, and it is where he says, “But for those who seek salvation there can be no middle ground between laborious struggle and destruction.
Typical false prophet tactics, primarily through omission and using the plausible deniability theme. Next year we should see outright denial of doctrine after the synod.
Franciscus is a mini-me of Paul VI absent the intellect, sophistication, and self-doubt and it was Paul VI who told the Roman Clergy (paraphrase) Yes, I could enact discipline against those spreading error but I prefer to be loved. and it was Paul VI, as the then Abp of Milano who wrote the opening speech of Vatican Two delivered by John 23rd, which, infamously, promised that errors would be overcome by love, not discipline.
O, and it was he who abdicated, Pope Benedict XVI who destroyed the Holy Office; he wrote the highly disingenuous speech delivered by Cardinal Frings during the first few revolutionary days of V2.
So, we got all of this modern papal praxis going for us, which is nice….
“Franciscus is a mini-me of Paul VI absent the intellect, sophistication, and self-doubt …”
That’s a keeper. Reminds me of the cut and thrust of FR days gone by!
A wonderful article, keep up the good work!
Peace and Love,
The Church Militant Moderation Team
Am I on Candid Camera?
This man is using a fake account and masquerading as moderator for ChurchMilitant.com. None of his commentary comes from any of our staff. He’s being reported to Disqus.
We know. It’s satire.
It may be satire for those in the know, but to 99% of the audience who aren’t in on the joke, they will assume the comments are officially coming from ChurchMilitant.com. I’m sure you would not appreciate someone masquerading as “Steve Skojec” and posting comments on the Internet on your behalf, saying things you would never say.
I think it’s pretty obvious. His profile image is Wilhelm Klink. He’s making sarcastic responses to things in a way that caricatures the rather…aggressive nature of Church Militant’s moderators.
I don’t know who he is, but it looks like pretty classic 1st Amendment stuff to me.
this is hilarious…absolutely hilarious.
Embarrassing is the word.
….What isn’t appreciated is CMTV’s masquerade of speaking for the Pope and the Catholic Church in attempting to usurp an authority it doesn’t have for those 99% of its audience who are not educated enough to understand that they’re being indoctrinated by Voris and friends.
Those who are educated and thoroughly Catholic (…especially insofar as they do not ascribe calumny as a Catholic virtue) are blackballed from any attempt at correcting your attempts at “journalism”.
You really don’t hold much stock in the education level of your following, do you. Although I must say that many more will make the proper connection between Church Militant and Colonel Klink.
….and who, pray, should we report you to, Ms. Niles? CMTV holds itself as the sole authority to speak on behalf of the Catholic Church, even insofar as declaring that which it cannot, stamping out any/all reality like a communist takeover.
Perhaps you should meditate on why anyone would desire to portray a Church Militant moderator as Colonel Klink. There’s a message in it for you. But I think you know that ;^)
Christine is going to be ordained by the ARCWP after the Synod on the Family. I wonder if she’ll preside over Cranmer’s meal ad orientum? Expect a schism in the ARCWP.
Whatever decision is made, I hope for Michael Voris’s sake that he can get a hold on himself, his organization, and his employees before more damage is done. No warehouse is worth the headache. And the personalized clean-up crew is more embarrassing than a Colonel Klink avatar.
Can anybody say groupie?
Everyone, one of the complaints we hear a lot when readers of CMTV leave in frustration and come to our site is the level of aggression they face in the comment boxes over there.
I understand that there’s a lot of frustration over that, but I’d like to ask that we please show Christine some courtesy and charity. I don’t apply a heavy hand in moderating here because I want free discussion, and I hope that our guests will use it responsibly. Let’s be a model of how that can work, not a reason for other websites to look and say, “See? This is why we lock down the comment box.”
…there you go again, Steve, admonishing us to engage Christian charity. Thanks for the reminder 🙂