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November 26, 2020 (The Catholic Thing) — Two big problems for the conference on the “Economy of Francesco” held at Assisi last week were solved by the COVID pandemic: 1) no one had to fly there, and 2) the economy had already ground to a halt.

St. Francis of Assisi, you will remember, was the saint who stripped himself bare at an ecclesiastical trial, to show that he was embracing complete poverty and would not follow in the footsteps of his father, a silk merchant.  He went on to found one of the two great “mendicant” orders of the Middle Ages, the other being the Dominicans.  The mendicants (from the Latin for “begging”) were controversial at the time because they did no work and, by design, lived off the contributions of those who were engaged in productive work.

There was an obvious inconsistency in thousands of participants boarding modern airplanes, traveling thousands of miles, to attend a conference where they were to look for ideas about how to model their lives — and “the economy” — on the example of this saint of absolute poverty.  Wouldn’t a series of local conferences at the diocesan level be just as good?  Many readers probably can remember a time when a moderately wealthy father and mother might hope to travel to Assisi once in their life — if somehow, by God’s grace, they could put aside sufficient savings after raising a large family.

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PETITION: Ask Pope Francis to clarify and rectify scandalous remarks on homosexual civil unions
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Remarks attributed to Pope Francis (and, not denied by the Vatican) in support of homosexual civil unions have caused grave scandal to the faithful.

Please SIGN this urgent petition which asks Pope Francis to clarify and rectify these heterodox and scandalous remarks on homosexual civil unions, and which will be delivered both to the Vatican and to the Papal Nuncio of the United States (the Pope's official representative in the U.S.).

As the last guarantor of the Faith, the Pope should clarify and rectify these remarks, which go against the perennial teaching of the Church, even including the teaching of his living predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

"What we have to create is a law of civil coexistence [meaning civil union law, for homosexuals]...," Pope Francis is reported to have remarked, in what is arguably his clearest statement of public support for a practice morally prohibited by official Catholic Church teaching.

In fact, the Church has been crystal clear in Her opposition to homosexual unions.

Just in 2003, Pope Saint John Paul II approved a document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, titled 'Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons' and written by Cardinal Ratzinger (now, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI), which concludes with the following:

"The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself."

It could not be more clear: the Church is calling people to repentance, not to be left to indulge in grave sin.

Since becoming public, several senior prelates as well as other notable Catholic figures have voiced their opposition to these remarks attributed to the Pontiff.

Cardinal Raymond Burke stated: "It is a source of deepest sadness and pressing pastoral concern that the private opinions reported with so much emphasis by the press and attributed to Pope Francis do not correspond to the constant teaching of the Church, as it is expressed in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition."

Cardinal Gerhard Müller commented: "Where there is tension between the plain and obvious Word of God and the infallible interpretation on the one hand, and private expressions of opinion even by the highest church authorities on the other, the principle always applies: in dubio pro DEO [When in doubt, be in favor of God]."

And, Catholic theologian and apologist Scott Hahn, without directly quoting Pope Francis, shared on Facebook the 'Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons,' published by the CDF in 1986, with the statement: "Holy Father, respectfully and humbly, I beg to differ... if that is indeed what you said. In any case, please clarify and rectify your statement, especially in view of the official teaching of our Lord through the magisterium of His Church."

But, the silence from the Vatican has been deafening, with no clarification forthcoming.

We must, therefore, ask the Pope for clarification in this serious matter.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition which asks Pope Francis to clarify and rectify remarks attributed to him in support of homosexual civil unions.


'Cdl. Burke: Pope’s homosexual civil union remarks ‘contrary’ to Scripture, Tradition' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/cardinal-burke-on-popes-homosexual-civil-union-remarks-contrary-to-the-teaching-of-sacred-scripture-and-sacred-tradition

'Cardinal says Catholics ‘can and should’ disagree with Pope’s ‘opinion’ on gay civil unions' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/cdl.mueller-popes-words-on-gay-civil-unions-purely-private-expression-of-opinion-which-every-catholic-can-and-should-freely-contradict

'Archbishop Vigano, Bishops Tobin and Strickland respond to Pope’s approval of homosexual civil unions' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/archbishop-vigano-and-bishops-tobin-strickland-respond-to-popes-approval-of-homosexual-civil-unions

'Pope’s comments on gay civil unions cause shockwaves around the world' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/deepest-sadness-cardinal-burke-condemns-pope-franciss-remarks-supporting-civil-unions

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The “emissions” which would be caused by the conference in its original, in-person format were clearly an embarrassment to the environmentally-conscious organizing committee. [True, participants were to drink water using only “customized thermal drinking bottles,” to avoid plastics.  And all lunches were to be served in “biodegradable, compostable bags compliant with the EN 13432 standard.”  And only caterers who sourced their food from earthquake-devastated areas or lands once controlled by the mafia would be patronized. (Poor Luigi down the street, who used regular paper bags, was out of luck.)

But how were all those emissions consistent with the “custody of creation”?  The working solution — rendered unnecessary by the migration of the conference to YouTube, was to plant a “Forest of Francesco” (location not yet determined) to offset the emissions.

It’s hard not to see what might be called a “Phariseeism of the environment” at work in the conference.  Consider the application form for businesses that wanted to partner with the event.  Companies were excluded absolutely if they made weapons, distributed tobacco products or pornography, or promoted gambling.  Fair enough. But why no exclusion for using fetal tissue, or promoting contraception and abortion (oops — some featured speakers such as Jeffrey Sachs might need to be disinvited!), or not supporting freedom of religion and of conscience in the workplace?

And then companies were deemed “high risk” (the burden of proof was against partnering) if they were involved in extracting oil and gas, mining, “power generation,” construction of buildings, “cultivation of crops,” “production of wood,” “producers of alcoholic beverages,” and, of course, if their business was “fast food, sugar, and soda beverages.” (Would pizza restaurants and espresso bars be “high risk”?)  The “economy of Francesco” looks very sparse.

The other problem solved by COVID, as I said, was the end of economic growth.  A theme of many speakers was that the economy should be “reset” or “restarted” after COVID, with the aim of having zero annual growth in the GDP going forward, an aspiration expressed in muted form as the first item in its Final Statement: “[we ask that] the great world powers and the great economic and financial institutions slow down their race to let the Earth breathe. COVID has made us all slow down, without having chosen to do so” — not that we would have chosen, if these big players had decided, on our behalf, to slow down.

The Final Statement purports to represent the 2000 “economists, entrepreneurs, and change makers” under 35 years of age who participated in the conference, and through them, all young people of the world.  It’s unclear who formulated it, whether it was voted on, and what the vote was.  It seems like a vestige of the “sensus fidelium” from the 1960s, suffering from the same false logic and lack of realism about young people.

Obviously, one can select a population of young people, as with anyone else, to endorse whatever message one pleases. (The view of my devout 20-year-old son, for instance, a serious engineering student, who firmly believes that nuclear power should replace fossil fuels, is clearly not represented.)

Some of the Statement’s demands are bizarre, problematic, or disturbing: “a worldwide sharing of the most advanced technologies;” independent ethics committees for all large companies with veto power over C-suite decisions; and an end to offshore tax havens, as “money deposited in a tax haven is money stolen from our present and our future.”  Indeed, “a new tax pact [must] be the first response to the post-COVID world.”  Others are pathetic and insipid, but crafted so as to promote greater state control: “States, large companies and international institutions [must] work to provide quality education for every girl and boy in the world.”

It goes without saying — you may have seen it reported elsewhere — that there is hardly any mention of sin, salvation, or Jesus Christ in the conference documents and press releases.  (I’ve seen no such mentions.  But I must say “hardly any” to cover my bases.)  Also, one strains to see even tenuous connections with the tradition of Catholic Social Thought. But how can any young person persevere with solid good intentions, except by following the Lord, with the assistance of the sacraments?  And doesn’t a young person need a solid education in that tradition, and in the tradition of natural law and classical social thought?

St. Francis specifically left the world of business to embrace a poverty that was rich, deep in prayer, and in close discipleship to the Lord. Studying this conference suggests that, in the end, it would offer us simply poverty, and — for young persons — no Savior and Lord.

Published with permission from The Catholic Thing.


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