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Pope Francis, This Week by the Press

Pope Francis

Our dear Pope Francis has surprised us again – three times this week.

What did you think of his meeting Patriarch Kirill of Moscow at Havana Airport? What an amusing background there must be to that meeting. We can hardly imagine the Patriarch feeling like a day trip to Cuba. He must have been persuaded (or ordered) to go by President Putin. It’s part of a peace plan for Syria and the Middle East, we must think, and the Pope and the Patriarch are speaking of protection for Middle Eastern Christians. Please God, some good will come of this unusual meeting.

The media tells us that Pope Francis said that Donald Trump is not a Christian in the way he speaks about migrants. How many of us are Christian in the way we speak about migrants? But to be seen to say that of the main contender for the Republican Party nomination in an American election year sounds explosive. The media is creating shock waves.

And then, Zika. The Pope has said that birth control to protect against the virus is laudable. Explain that to your friends. The Church has always forbidden artificial means of birth control but Pope Francis has broken that chain. He has made an exception, apparently, for the Zika virus – but the principle is huge: for if birth control is allowed to protect against the effects of this virus then there will be many circumstances where there is good reason for children not to be conceived “for the protection of life” rather than prevention of life.

These questions are bound to be raised. How would you answer? It seems to be a radical departure from the Church’s traditional teaching: that people will judge their own given circumstances. You might answer that people have been doing this for a long time. So have they been right? Could any bishop now impose the traditional teaching in the same way? We pray for understanding.

Panorama. Did you watch? What did you think? The lady sold the Pope’s letters for a large sum of money. She kept copies of all her letters to him. Are you agog or sad or bewildered or angry or not bothered at all? Join the clubs.

God bless us.

Fr John

21st February 2016

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