Did I say "bending over backwards"? There might have been other choices like "comparing apples to oranges" or "lousy scriptural interpretation" or just "contortions of logic". That just about sums up Simcha Fisher's piece in yesterday's National Catholic Register blog.
She desperately tried to compare the Pope's actions with De Paolis and St. Francis' actions with the sinful priest. There are differences between the two accounts to render Fisher's comparison to be an "apples to oranges" comparison.
- The story indicates that St. Francis, in an infirm condition, was brought rather unwillingly to the priest. The Holy Father was quite willing to be so engaged.
- St. Francis had no canonical authority over that priest. The Holy Father most certainly does have authority over De Paolis (and every other priest for that matter). Thus St. Francis had no binding responsibility to address the priest's problems. The Holy Father has solemn responsibility over all his priest-sons. To insinuate that it was appropriate for the Pope to (try to) imitate St. Francis in this matter is to deliberately disregard their very different roles and responsibilities to the Church.
- St. Francis never pretended the scandal didn't exist. The Holy Father has given all appearances of pretending that there is nothing wrong about De Paolis's decades of in-your-face dissidence and promotion of mortal sin.
She then tries to liken the Pope's actions to that of the father of the prodigal son. She goes so far as to claim, "Francis is speaking and acting precisely like the prodigal son's father". No. Not by a long shot. Why not review Luke 15:11-32? The choice of translations isn't particularly important. Note that the boy's father never went on a search for him. It wasn't until the father saw the son making the gesture of returning that he went out to greet him. Also note that the boy acknowledged his sin and publicly repented. De Paolis promoted heinous sin for decades in flagrant manners; did he repent at least as openly as he dissented? Remember that he sinned not only against papal authority but against the Church, leading many into sin and probably even eternal damnation by his words and examples.
Did Jesus eat and associate with public sinners? Yes. Did He ever invite them to join Him as He preached and worked miracles if they had not repented? Of course not. Why should that now be presumed to be oakie-doakie today?