The big juicy story of the day concerns a purported phone call between the Holy Father and a divorced Argentinian woman.
U.K. daily The Telegraph reports that Pope Francis called Jacqui Lisbona in response to a letter she wrote him months earlier, concerning the fact that her local parish priest refused to give her communion because she is divorced and civilly remarried.
According to the article, Francis purportedly told Ms. Lisbona that “A divorcee who takes communion is not doing anything wrong.”
There are a host of problems with the veracity of this story, but once again the self-appointed protectors of orthodoxy are keen to assail Pope Francis and what he purportedly told Ms. Lisbona. Nevermind that the story, on its face, is entirely incomplete and missing critical elements that would permit a reasonable conclusion.
In addition to the jumpers-to-conclusion, other folks — the benefit-of-the-doubters — don’t necessarily believe the truth of the story, but still attempt to impute a degree of blame to Francis; that this is “just desserts” and “what happens” when a pope makes unscripted and unofficial telephone calls to ordinary laypeople.
Francis is simply making it worse all the time by opening his mouth and saying things, and letting journalists misreport his words and what they truly mean. He should be more clear. He should know better. He’s foolish in the way he presents himself to the media, and therefore he’s also culpable.
I call that invincible ignorance. It pretends that there’s no motive on the part of nominals, seculars, and the MSM to “make” Pope Francis into what they want him to be. In the case of this most recent story, there are several indicators that tell me I am correct about this.
The story in The Telegraph is pure gossip (and what has Pope Francis said before regarding gossip?). Ms. Lisbona’s “husband” posted about the purported phone call on his Facebook page, ostensibly written in Spanish, which was then translated and embellished in English, and contains only hearsay recollection regarding what the Holy Father said.
I can only imagine that were I to receive a phone call from Pope Francis, I would struggle to accurately recount everything that was said. I would be highly emotional about such an interaction. Absent a recording that I could review after the fact, my recollection would undoubtedly contain inaccuracies, even if I lacked any intent to misstate what he told me.
But setting aside the gossip issue, what’s more troubling is all the murmuring about Pope Francis. Saying “I don’t think he said that, but I sure think he shouldn’t have made the call in the first place because of the all the confusion it’s caused” constitutes murmuring against our Holy Father. It’s a type of speculation that implicates our own particular prejudices.
What a pastor tells an individual, in confidence, applies to no one else outside the private exchange. To imply that this purported phone conversation means something else is to permit an unmerited belief of ownership over it, some right to have it explained when it was never intended for anyone else.
So, Stop murmuring (!):
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” (John 6:35). The Jews murmured about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day.” (41-44). The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” (52-53). Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you?” (61-62). As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. (66).
The point: they also murmured about Jesus, and many left because they preferred the murmuring to hearing Truth.
To murmur is to withhold trust and charity from someone who deserves it. Pope Francis knows about the sanctity of marriage; he’s not interested in abrogating the Church’s teachings. He’s not the “get with the times” pope; he’s mentioned the Devil and Hell far too many times for that moniker. He knows that the way to mercy is not by whitewashing sin. Just let him do his thing.