SANTA ROSA, CA, Sept. 25, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Following Pope Francis’ call for the Church to find a “new balance” and reduce what he suggested was undue emphasis on controversial moral issues, one of the American episcopate’s great defenders of life and family affirmed the Pope’s desire to proclaim the basic Gospel message but insisted that the Church must remain vocal in promoting the truth on the most pressing issues of the day.
The media has widely reported that the Pope, in an interview published Thursday by Rome’s La Civilta Catholica and Jesuit magazines around the world, said the Church must not be “obsessed” by issues like abortion, homosexuality, and contraception. But Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa, Calif. says he has not seen evidence of such an obsession.
“I certainly do know that there are individuals, and I certainly would probably be among them, who firmly believe that these are core cultural issues about which we must be vocal,” the prelate told the Press Democrat on Friday. “But I'm not obsessed about them. A vast majority of the things that I write do not include abortion as a topic or contraception or divorce and remarriage.”
“Is there a need for teaching about those things? Absolutely. Are there some folks who overstep the boundary and say, 'OK we're preaching about this every single Sunday?' Well, there may be. But there's a vast majority of people who never talk about it,” he continued.
“[If] everyone talked about it a little, there would be fewer who feel the need to talk about it more,” he added.
In the Pope’s interview, which ran to 12,000 words, he spoke only briefly about the moral issues.
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” he said.
“This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that,” he added. “But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”
The off-the-cuff remarks were interpreted by much of the mainstream press as a call by the Pope for the Church to downplay, or even abandon, its teachings on difficult moral issues.
But that narrative was interrupted on Friday when the pope issued his strongest remarks to date against abortion, condemning the practice as a manifestation of a “throwaway culture.”
Bishop Vasa’s assessment is along the same lines as that made by Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura and America’s most senior prelate, in an interview this summer months before the Pope’s interview was published.
The Cardinal told Minneapolis’ The Catholic Servant that the Church has not been nearly outspoken enough on controversial issues like homosexuality. He said there’s been “a failure of catechesis both of children and young people that has been going on for fifty years.”
“It is being addressed, but it needs much more radical attention,” he continued. “There is far too much silence — people do not want to talk about it because the topic is not ‘politically correct.’ But we cannot be silent any longer or we will find ourselves in a situation that will be very difficult to reverse.”