I've blogged before over the questionable doings and sayings of Pope Francis; I link to the anthology here. A clarification is in order. In no way do I question any solemn pronouncement of the Holy Father. When he speaks solemnly he is infallible. However, the bulk of his statements (same true for most pontiffs) does not rise to the level of infallibility. When he speaks without that degree of solemnity, good Catholics can examine and disagree, assuming they stand with the tradition of the Church.
A concern of mine, as I have stated in my postings, is that progressives or poorly-catechized Catholics might take imprudent statements and use them to justify their own erroneous beliefs and actions. Within the past week we have seen quite a "case in point" in the comments section of a post on the Lepanto Institute blog. In that post, Michael Hichborn gives some clarifications of a previous post in which he exposed the insinuation of a gay activist in the role of reviewing exhibitor applicants for the World Meeting of Families (to occur in September). As you might have gleaned from previous posts this past week, I congratulate and thank him for his work in exposing this woman; whether or not the Archdiocese of Philadelphia acts on this information is another matter. At any rate, as you see in the comments section, some take issue with both Mike and myself, going so far as to claim that we "hate homosexuals" and even that we "incite to murder". Most of these comments come from Matt Dobson, who states that he is a "confirmation director" within the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Notice Dobson's comment that is dated June 7 at 9:51am, particularly the quote from Pope Francis that he seems to think constitutes Church authority for his beliefs that Hichborn and I are "acting contrary to the teachings of the Church". That quote is NOT a papal pronouncment by any stretch of the imagination. It's from an interview that he gave to America magazine almost two years ago; here's the link to the full interview. No one can dare claim that such statements can be binding, for specific criteria must be met for binding pronouncements (see this, then scroll to "explanation of papal infallibility").
Dobson did cite the Catechism paragraph 2358, that prohibits unjust discrimination against homosexuals - but only that which is unjust. Is it inherently unjust to prevent those who flaunt their mortal sins to have control over significant areas of Church function? I believe not. Would Dobson believe that an avowed racist should be allowed to occupy Matozzo's role? I suspect not and neither would I. There are times when discrimination is just and its lack would constitute injustice.
I'm sure this sort of scene is being played out in multiple venues, where those flouting God's commandments are coddled and those doing the coddling cite as justification the pope's personal opinions and statements as though they're infallible doctrine. I'm sure Mr. Dobson didn't intend this, but with his comments he gave prima facie evidence of the harm done by this pope's many imprudent "off-the-cuff" statements. He provided invaluable service by demonstrating just why we all need to speak out against error, no matter the level from which it originates.
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