In my podcast earlier today, I said I hadn’t read anything from the pope’s Africa visit. That didn’t last long. Tonight, after helping my lovely wife get the kids in bed, I came down to ye olde computer to get back to work and there, plastered on the screen, was a link to the Zenit translation of the Vatican-provided transcript of Pope Francis’s plane presser. The one people have been reeling over, and that just based on pull-quotes.
I’ve decided I’m not going to provide any analysis at this time. Read it for yourself. But I do want to offer the two most controversial sections for your convenience. You tell me what you think they mean.
On Catholic fundamentalism:
Philippine de Saint-Pierre, KTO
Holy Father, good evening. You paid tribute to the platform created by the Archbishop, the Imam and the Pastor of Bangui and today, more than ever, we know that religious fundamentalism threatens the whole planet: we saw this also in Paris. So, in face of this danger, do you think that religious dignitaries should intervene more in the political field?
To intervene in the political field: if you mean to “engage in politics,” <the answer is> no. He must be a priest, Imam, Rabbi: this is his vocation. However, politics is engaged in indirectly by preaching values, true values, and one of the greatest values is fraternity among ourselves. We are all children of God; we have the same Father. And, in this connection, there must be a politics of unity, of reconciliation, … – and a word I don’t like, but which I must use – tolerance, but not only tolerance, but also coexistence and friendship! It’s this way. Fundamentalism is a sickness that is in all religions. We Catholics have some, not some, many, who believe they have the absolute truth and go around soiling the others with calumnies, defamation, and they do harm, they do harm. And I say this because it is my Church, we too, all of us! And it must be combated. Religious fundamentalism isn’t religious. Why? Because God is lacking. It’s idolatrous, just as money is idolatrous. To engage in politics in the sense of convincing these people that have this tendency, is a politics that we, religious leaders, must engage in. However, fundamentalism that always ends in tragedy or in offenses is a bad thing, but there is a bit of it in all religions.
On the liceity of condom usage in fighting AIDS:
Jurgen Baetz, DPS of South Africa
Holiness, AIDS is devastating Africa. Care helps many today to live a bit longer. However, the epidemic continues. Last year, in Uganda alone, there were 135,000 new infections of AIDS. In Kenya the situation is in fact worse. AIDS is the first cause of death among African young people. Holiness, you met HIV-positive children and heard a moving testimony in Uganda. Yet, you said very little on this issue. We know that prevention is fundamental. We also know that condoms are not the only means to halt the epidemic. We know, however, that it’s an important part of the answer. Isn’t it time, perhaps, to change the position of the Church for this purpose? To agree to the use of condoms in order to prevent further infections?
The question seems to me too narrow and it also seems a partial question. Yes, it is one of the methods; I think that the morality of the Church finds itself on this point before a perplexity: is it the fifth or the sixth Commandment? To defend life, or that the sexual relation be open to life? But this isn’t the problem. The problem is greater. This question makes me think of that which was posed to Jesus once: “Tell me, Teacher, is it licit to cure on the Sabbath?” It’s obligatory to cure! This question, if it’s licit to cure … But malnutrition, the exploitation of persons, slave labor, the lack of potable water: these are the problems. Let us not ask ourselves if this or that band-aid can be used for a small wound. The great wound is social injustice, environmental injustice, the injustice I’ve mentioned of exploitation, and malnutrition. This exists. I don’t like to descend to such casuistic reflections, when people are dying from lack of water and from hunger, from <lack of> a dwelling … When all are cured, or when there are no longer these tragic sicknesses caused by man, be it because of social injustice, be it to earn more money – think of the arms trade! – when these problems no longer exist, I believe the question can be asked: “Is it licit to cure on the Sabbath?” Why do arms continue to be produced and traded? The wars are the greatest cause of mortality … I would say forget about thinking if it’s licit or illicit to cure on the Sabbath. I would say to humanity: do justice, and when all are cured, when there is no longer injustice in this world, then we can speak of the Sabbath.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director 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 seven children.