Sunday Reading (not necessarily edifying)

Accent the positive:

Pope Francis as good cop:

In fact, Müller claimed, there’s an explicit division of labor at work between his office and Francis, hatched from the very start three years ago. (Remember that Müller, 68, took office under Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.)

“At the beginning of his pontificate, we spoke with Pope Francis, observing that during the previous pontificates the press accused the Church of talking only about sexuality, of abortion and these problems,” Müller said.

“For this reason, we decided, with Francis, to always, always, always speak in a positive way. If you look at the complete texts of Pope Francis, there’s gender ideology, abortion … yes, these problems are still there, but we concentrate on the positive.”

That’s not a matter of “revolution,” Müller said, insisting that Francis “is in line with his predecessors.”

“His originality,” he said, “is his charisma, thanks to which he succeeds in overcoming people’s blocks and their hardened positions.”

Look beyond the internet to find the positive:

The Internet, Rosica said, “can be an international weapon of mass destruction, crossing time zones, borders and space.” He also described it as “an immense battleground that needs many field hospitals set up to bind wounds and reconcile warring parties.”

“If we judged our identity based on certain ‘Catholic’ websites and blogs, we would be known as the people who are against everyone and everything!” he said. ” If anything, we should be known as the people who are for something, something positive that can transform lives and engage and impact the culture.”

The good news, according to Rosica, is that in the broader media universe, Pope Francis has had exactly that effect.

“Prior to Pope Francis, when many people on the street were asked: ‘What is the Catholic Church all about? What does the pope stand for?’ The response would often be, ‘Catholics, well they are against abortion, gay marriage and birth control’,” Rosica said.

“They are known for the sex abuse crisis that has terribly marred and weakened their moral authority and credibility,’” he said.

It’s a new (and positive) day:

The cultural warrior Catholicism that favored political confrontation to personal engagement and partisan fighting to authentic dialogue has given away to a Catholicism that is willing to engage, encounter, and befriend anyone.

Positivity has its limits, however:

The pope complained of “rich people who exploit others,” saying they offer contracts only from September to June, and then the employees have to “eat air” from July to August.

“Those who do that are true bloodsuckers, and they live by spilling the blood of the people who they make slaves of labor,” Francis said, according to a summary of the homily provided by Vatican Radio.

At least Americans are not bloodsuckers:

At one stage, Pentin asked Fellay about the pope’s repeated denunciations of “doctors of the law” and “fundamentalists,” wondering if Fellay takes those jibes as directed at his society or traditionalists generally. In response, Fellay said he’s asked around Rome what the pope means by that language.

“The answer I got most was ‘conservative Americans!’” Fellay, who’s Swiss, laughingly told Pentin. “So really, frankly, I don’t know.”

One might suspect Fellay was deflecting, except for this: He’s absolutely, one hundred percent right about what one typically hears in Rome on the subject of who leaves this pope cold.

By now, it’s clear that one defining feature both of Francis’ personality and his approach to governance – which shouldn’t be at all surprising, when you think about it – is a distinct ambivalence about the United States and about Americans.

Still, are Americans responsible for income inequality in the Vatican:

A cardinal based in Rome, for example, gets a “cardinal’s check” of $5,600 a month, plus benefits that include access to a tax-free electronic store, supermarket, clothing shop and pharmacy, up to 475 gallons of gas a year and cigarettes at discounted prices, benefits that are applicable to all Vatican employees.

A lay person, however, gets a salary that corresponds with Italian law.

Italy is among the few European countries that doesn’t have a minimum wage law, so salaries are set through collective bargaining agreements on a job-to-job basis. Around half of the employees in the country are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, and the Vatican uses the same basic framework.

The net result is that the average Vatican employee makes around $22,000 a year, tax free.

That may seem shockingly low by American standards, but for those already in the system it’s at least a secure source of employment: Odds are, the Vatican is never going out of business.

Under the Vatican’s labor law, it’s also virtually impossible to get fired. One veteran Vatican official said that some years ago, a pontifical commission tried to fire a lay woman who, after taking the usual 9 months of maternity leave, managed to get paid for an extra ten by navigating the system.

After four years of trying to get rid of her, superiors at the commission simply gave up.

Yet another indication of the gap between Roman Catholic journalists and Roman Catholic apologists.

2 thoughts on “Sunday Reading (not necessarily edifying)

  1. from link: These days, when the classic Catholic parlor game of deciding who in the Vatican is for the pope and who’s against him gets underway

    seems like a strange predicament for the vicar of Christ; does he then say …. He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. Matt 12:30-32


  2. More spin from John Allen:

    At least in the West, we live in a far more polarized world today, in which the split between left and right colors the way a broad swath of the population sees pretty much everything.

    In the 1980s, the “culture wars” were just coming on the scene (the phrase wasn’t even popularized by James Davison Hunter until 1991.) Thus when self-identified Catholic liberals criticized John Paul II, it was easier for them to say things like, “The pope’s got a blind spot on women, but his record on inter-faith dialogue and social justice is impressive.”
    Similarly, conservatives upset about one thing or another could always say, “Sure, we don’t like Assisi, or what he says on the death penalty, but this is also the pope who’s leading the crusade against Communism and decrying a Culture of Death.”

    Today, conservatives who object to a given aspect of Francis’ papacy often seem to feel compelled to reject it all, dismissing anything that appears more favorable to their outlook as window-dressing or hypocrisy, while many liberals who support the pontiff – not all do, as some think he’s a disappointment on women, or gays, or sex abuse, or whatever – style any criticism whatsoever as “hating the pope.”

    What’s the bottom line on opposition to Pope Francis, three and a half years in? Here’s one shot at framing it.

    In reality, it’s probably no greater than other popes have faced, and there’s little evidence it’s getting in the way of him pursuing his agenda. However, it may seem louder and nastier than before – which is probably only in part a referendum on Francis, and at least as much on the culture.

    Not like Pope Francis himself has anything to do with it.

    Is gullibility indigenous to being Roman Catholic?


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