Disappointment

????????????????????????????????Providence’s Bishop Thomas Tobin’s interview included this aside in a response to another question:

The other thing I want to say though, is that I’m a little bit disappointed in Pope Francis that he hasn’t, at least that I’m aware of, said much about unborn children, about abortion, and many people have noticed that. I think it would be very helpful if Pope Francis would address more directly the evil of abortion and to encourage those who are involved in the pro-life movement. It’s one thing for him to reach out and embrace and kiss little children and infants as he has on many occasions. It strikes me that it would also be wonderful if in a spiritual way he would reach out and embrace and kiss unborn children.

I think people have noticed it. Discerning people have also noticed Pope Francis has been unabashedly a pro-life pope in terms of what he says and how he demonstrates the right to and the love for life.

Perhaps Bishop Tobin, recent Republican convert, is thinking too much in terms of American politics. US Catholics make up a single-digit percentage of the flock Francis now pastors. Is it realistic to expect that the man will conform to the American values of the political pro-life movement: confrontation, contention, fundraising, deception, and the striving to yell louder than the other side?

Rather than mollycoddle political Catholics, I think the bishop might have the measure of what’s really going on. Pope Francis is challenging everybody:

I think his most positive contribution has been the way he is challenging us to be more direct and more engaged in the work of the Church and in evangelizing people. He’s challenged everybody. He’s challenged world leaders, he’s challenged members of the Vatican hierarchy, he’s challenged bishops, and priests and religious and the lay faithful. His challenge has been very clear and direct, and it’s hard to ignore him.

Exactly right. Some of us might feel buoyed by the revolutionary change in tone, and others not. But every Catholic has been challenged. And we should be. None is perfect in applying the Gospel. We need leadership on all levels of the Church that demonstrates the way, gives a backing to the Church’s mission and the hard work that entails. Conducting the Church’s business like it’s another political foray is not the way of the Gospel.

(To the question) “Would Jesus Christ be a Democrat or a Republican?” My answer would be: all of the above.

Or maybe not. I think Jesus’s clear answer was “none of the above.” Maybe Bishop Tobin should consider encouraging people of good will by abandoning any choice of political party and aligning more closely with what’s on his baptismal certificate, as he has referenced.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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7 Responses to Disappointment

  1. chrisjagrady says:

    Can you imagine ANY Catholic, let alone a bishop, commenting on how good or otherwise a job say Pius XII was doing during his reign?

  2. John McGrath says:

    The Pope is a shrewd politician in many ways. How else would he have survived – with integrity – the criminal regimes in Argentina whose murders were too often approved by clergy?

    The pope will get around to the abortion issue, but probably in a spiritual, prayerful way, not trying to bully secular authorities who in conscience do not believe that human life begins at conception. Outside conservative Catholic circles a consensus is forming that human life begins with the appearance of brain waves, near the end of the first trimester. Be that as it may, Catholics believe otherwise but it would be good for Catholics to realize that others have consciences and that those consciences lead to a different position. People like Bishop Tobin give the impression of “bearing false witness” against neighbors.

    I suspect that the Pope will begin to speak op on abortion after he has established “mercy” as the central value in what he has to say. He will speak with mercy for the unborn, the desperate mothers who feel the need to abort, hungry children, children without hope of a better life, and even those who sincerely disagree with him.

    Bishop tobin thinks it would be just fine for thsoe hungry children to go unaided by the government.

    I also suspect that the pope will speak up on abortion and remain silent on contraception. Just a speculation.

    • Liam says:

      “Outside conservative Catholic circles a consensus is forming that human life begins with the appearance of brain waves, near the end of the first trimester.”

      That is not accurate. FWIW.

  3. chrisjagrady says:

    One other thing. The interviewer should have asked this of Bishop Tobin:

    “Given what he told the Nuncios about the kind of people he wanted named bishops – pastors, not careerists, do you think Pope Francis would have made YOU a bishop?”

  4. Pingback: Hooray for Bishop Tobin! | Vox Nova

  5. Pingback: Thoughts concerning bishops and bears

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