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May 16, 2017 (CatholicCulture) — During his latest in-flight press conference, on his return flight from Portugal, Pope Francis made important statements on several hot topics: Medjugorje, sexual abuse, his meeting with President Trump, the prospects for regularization of the Society of St. Pius X. Those comments have deservedly commanded top billing in news coverage of the interview. So you might have missed the Pope’s response to another hot-button issue.

As the question-and-answer session was coming to a close, a Portuguese journalist was given the opportunity for a final question. He asked the Holy Father to comment on the fact that in Portugal, an overwhelmingly Catholic country, the political trend is favorable to recognition of same-sex marriage, acceptance of abortion, and now perhaps even euthanasia. Here is the Pope’s reply:

I think it’s a political problem. And that also the Catholic conscience isn’t a catholic one of total belonging to the Church and that behind that there isn’t a nuanced catechesis, a human catechesis. That is, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is an example of what is a serious and nuanced thing. I think that there is a lack of formation and also of culture. Because it’s curious, in some other regions, I think of the south of Italy, some in Latin America, they are very Catholic but they are anti-clerical and ‘priest-eaters’, that … there is a phenomenon that exists. It concerns me. That’s why I tell priests, you will have read it, to flee from clericalism because clericalism distances people. May they flee from clericalism and I add: it’s a plague in the Church. But here there is a work also of catechesis, of raising awareness, of dialogue, also of human values.

So, given an opportunity to comment on the collapse of Catholic moral principles in a Catholic society—it could easily be described as a softball question—the Pope said… What?

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Read that answer again, and tell me what the Pope thinks of Catholics who, in public life, betray Catholic principles. Good luck.

Reprinted with permission from Catholic Culture.

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