Posted by: smstrouse | October 3, 2015

The Pope Francis Firestorm


Oy vey! What a week it’s been! The title of this post has gone from “Pope Francis Fail” to “Pope Francis Fail?” to this final version.

After a week of shock, disbelief and ranting among those who had just days before been extolling Pope Francis, we now have to express a collective Emily Litella.Unknown

Turns out Francis gave Kim Davis neither a private audience nor an  endorsement of her position. What? Oh. Never mind.

So what can we learn from all this?

Believe it or not, I’m going to quote Martin Luther. Really.

From his explanation of the 8th Commandment: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. In his Small Catechism, Luther wrote:

What does this mean?
We should fear and love God, so that we do not lie about, betray or slander our neighbors, but excuse them, speak well of them, and put the best construction on everything.

I think we get the part about lying and betraying (most of the time anyway). But putting the best construction on everything has always been a challenge to most of us. And it seems to have taken a turn for the worse since the dawn of the Internet era.

I’m not saying that we should have just given the Pope a pass on meeting with Kim Davis. If indeed he had given her a private audience, I would want to know if Francis was aware of the political hot potato he’d been handed, who had set it up and what exactly had been said.

If indeed he had offered her his support, I would have been deeply disappointed. Even though the Roman Catholic position on same-sex marriage is quite clear, Francis has been very adept at softening it and maneuvering around it (much like the Dalai Lama, I might add). However, it would not have taken from me my admiration for his stand on other issues and my hope that he would continue to evolve – and help the Church evolve – in this area as well.

But now that it has been revealed that Davis was among many who met the Pope, received a generic pastoral admonition to “stay strong” and used that encounter to further her own agenda – well, this is where it gets hard! Am I able to put the best construction on what Davis and her handlers say and do?

I find it easier to do with Davis. She is operating out of her convictions. No matter how much I disagree with her, I have to respect her right to express them. However, as both Martin Luther and Martin Luther King, Jr. taught, one who disobeys a law as a matter of conscience must accept the consequences.

It gets more troublesome with those who are using Davis to further their political agenda. Once you enter the realm of politics, the 8th Commandment takes a beating. But that doesn’t mean we have to buy into “the lies behind the truth, and the truth behind those lies, that are behind that truth” (Don Asmussen’s Bad Reporter, SF Chronicle). We can take the high road and make out best effort to put the best construction on it and sort out the truth in the midst of the spin.

Pope Francis got caught in the spin cycle this week. I’m sure he’s not losing sleep over it. I hope we don’t either. But I do hope we’ve learned something from it, because this kind of situation will surely come around again. And as much as I always loved Gilda Radner’s Emily Litella, I really don’t want her as my role model.

I’m much more Unknown-1Roseanne Roseannadanna.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: