Nov. 14, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Since his election in March, Pope Francis has garnered widespread media coverage, thanks in large part to a series of spontaneous gestures, statements and free-wheeling interviews that have endeared him to many Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
At the same time, some in the pro-life and pro-family movements have expressed perplexity, if not consternation in some cases, about some of the statements made by the pope in some of those interviews.
In one interview with Jesuit magazines across the world the Pope had declared that “it is not necessary to talk about [abortion, gay ‘marriage’ and contraception’] all the time.” While in another interview with atheist Eugenia Scalfari, the Pope had pegged “youth unemployment and the loneliness of the elderly,” as the greatest issues facing the Church today.
To address this confusion over these statements, last month LifeSiteNews.com organized a webcast featuring some of the top pro-life and pro-family experts in North America. The audio of that webcast is now available for replay by those who were not able to make the live event. (Click here to listen)
Speakers on the webcast included: Priests for Life Founder and National Director Fr. Frank Pavone, renowned theologian Dr. Janet Smith, Human Life International President Fr. Shenan Boquet, and LifeSiteNews.com’s own Steve Jalsevac and John-Henry Westen.
In his introduction, Jalsevac set the stage by quoting from some of Cardinal Bergoglio’s extremely strong pro-life and pro-family statements while serving in Buenos Aires. But, he added, after the cardinal was elected Pope, some were puzzled when he proceeded to say very little on the hot-button moral issues of the day, even avoiding mention of the word “abortion” during the pro-life Evangelium Vitae day at the Vatican.
“There has been an international tsunami of reaction to” the Pope's interviews, Jalsevac said, pointing out that many leftists and dissident Catholics have been the most vocal in their praise for them. “What we are seeing now is exploitation of these statements by Pope Francis to undo the previous two popes’ achievements, and to smear them as having been intolerant pre-Vatican II reactionaries.”
Boquet, Pavone, Smith and Westen all agreed in their remarks, however, that contrary to suggestions of many of the secular reports, the Pope has not changed any of the Catholic Church’s moral teachings. In fact, they suggested, the Pope appears to be laying out a pastoral path that emphasizes the central message of Christianity – that of the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. And in this sense, there is much that can be learned from the Pope's words.
At the same time, Westen suggested in his response to the last question at 1:14;36 in the recording, that there is significant “cause for concern” in the way that the Pope has expressed himself, which has left his statements “open to interpretation” and abuse by those who are enemies of the Church's teachings. Westen exprressed hope that advisors to the Pope would be able to guide him towards speaking with “clarity” and “using a terminology that would not be open to misinterpration. I think we have to pray for that.” He encouraged listeners who might be concerned to write the Pope at the Vatican, expressing their opinions with “truth and conviction” but also in “gentleness and without harshness.”
After presentations by the speakers, a full half hour was given to a variety of questions from listeners.
To listen to the complete webcast, click here.
Note that the introductory remarks by Steve Jalsevac were re-recorded due to a technical problem at the beginning of the webcast and to better clarify the issues for disussion.