PopeWatch: The Francis Effect and Nancy Pelosi’s Bishop


Father Z has coined a phrase “the Francis Effect” that I fear we will all become quite familiar with:

Six months into this pontificate, and people are starting to go a little crazy.

For example, the Archbishop of Birmingham is talking about intercommunion with Anglicans, based on a document which dates back to 1993 and concerns the conditions necessary for intercommunion with the Eastern Orthodox.   (In other words, that document doesn’t apply.  One is an actual Church with valid sacraments and the other is neither.)

For example, in the Archdiocese of Freiburg, Germany, some minor chancery official usurped authority which was not his in order to outline a “policy” that would allow the divorced and remarried in the diocese to receive Communion.  (In other words, it remains entirely against the law and, whether he did it on his own or with the wink and nod of the diocese’s administrator, someone oughta get their backside paddled, and hard.)

Not helpful.

In some places, the Church’s teaching on doctrine and morals are out the window.

Real colors are being revealed.

We have a prime example of the Francis Effect from Nancy Pelosi’s pet Bishop:  Robert W. McElroy.  Appointed by Pope Benedict for some inexplicable reason as an auxiliary bishop of San Francisco in 2010, McElroy wrote a piece for the Jesuit rag America in 2005 in which he rode to the rescue of pro-abort Catholic politicians facing a potential risk of being denied the Eucharist for voting in favor of child murder in utero:

1. The denial of the Eucharist to political leaders who support abortion legislation will inevitably be perceived by Americans, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, as coercive. The church has presented itself to American society as a witness to the values of the Gospel in the social order, seeking to convert minds and hearts to defend the dignity of the human person. Eucharistic sanctions will be seen as a repudiation of this role in the public square and the adoption of a radically new stance based upon the coercion of minds rather than the conversion of minds. It does not matter that eucharistic sanctions would be fully within the legitimate moral and civil rights of the church to adopt, and that those who have attacked them as a violation of the separation of church and state are totally in error in their understanding of the constitutional tradition of the United States. What does matter enormously is that Americans will in general recoil from the use of the Eucharist as a political weapon, and will reassess their overall opinion of the church’s role in the political order. Not only will sanctions not increase support for pro-life legislation; they will also undermine support for the church’s entire effort to bring Gospel values to the structures and policies of American government and society.

2. Eucharistic sanctions will further identify abortion as a sectarian Catholic issue and thus play into the hands of those who falsely accuse the pro-life movement of imposing specifically religious tenets upon the American people. One of the most damaging and mistaken charges leveled against pro-life political leaders and groups is the assertion that the commitment to protect human life from the moment of conception is a specifically religious principle and should not be enshrined in law in a religiously free society. The pro-life movement has worked arduously to refute this assertion and to build a coalition that crosses religious boundaries, embracing men and women of all religions and no religion. The imposition of eucharistic sanctions will cripple this effort.

3. The use of eucharistic sanctions for political action will inevitably breed a reductionist outlook in defining the church’s social agenda. One of the greatest strengths of the church’s teaching in the social and political orders has been the breadth of vision the Catholic tradition brings to the monumental problems of our times. Repeatedly, the church has refused to countenance any effort to reduce this social teaching to fit categories imposed by particular political systems or structures. In its Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life (November 2002), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith powerfully attested to the full spectrum of these moral imperatives for Catholics. Yet the sanctions movement has already made clear that it advances a two-tier notion of political imperatives for Catholics, one that centers upon life issues and another for all other political and social questions. The life issues will be deemed essential to the fullness of Catholic faith and thus to participation in the Eucharist; all other issues–including war and issues of economic justice, over which the United States exercises unparalleled influence because of its political and economic power—will be relegated to secondary status.

4. The imposition of eucharistic sanctions will cast the church as a partisan actor in the American political system. One of the great tragedies of American politics in the present day is that the Democratic and Republican parties have evolved in a way that makes it virtually impossible for candidates who follow Catholic social teaching in its major elements to win party primaries and thus to be elected to office. In the main, this means that Republican political leaders in the United States are more reflective of the church’s stance on abortion, euthanasia, cloning and marriage, while Democratic political leaders are more likely to reflect Catholic values on issues pertaining to war and peace, the poor, the death penalty and the environment. Such a schism in our political culture places Catholic voters who wish to follow church teaching in a very difficult position. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has handled this dilemma by emphasizing the importance of the wide spectrum of critical social issues, while simultaneously pointing to the particularly critical role that abortion has in the present day. The imposition of eucharistic sanctions solely on candidates who support abortion legislation will inevitably transform the church in the United States, in the minds of many, into a partisan, Republican-oriented institution  and thus sacrifice the role that the church has played almost alone in American society in advocating a moral agenda that transcends the political divide.

Now, as an example of the Francis Effect, he has struck again in America, and citing Pope Francis, he declares that the fight against poverty should be on the same footing as the fight against abortion for the Church in America:

Within the United States, we also turn our eyes away from the growing domestic inequality that ruins lives and breaks spirits. Pope Francis speaks directly to this: “While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling. This imbalance results from ideologies which uphold the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and thus deny the right of control to States, which are themselves charged with providing for the common good.” The United States, which for so much of its great history has stood for economic mobility and a broad, comfortable middle class, now reflects gross disparities in income and wealth and barriers to mobility. The poor suffer a “benign neglect” in our political conversations, and absorb brutal cuts in governmental aid, especially at the state level.

If the Catholic Church is truly to be a “church for the poor” in the United States, it must elevate the issue of poverty to the very top of its political agenda, establishing poverty alongside abortion as the pre-eminent moral issues the Catholic community pursues at this moment in our nation’s history. Both abortion and poverty countenance the deaths of millions of children in a world where government action could end the slaughter. Both abortion and poverty, each in its own way and to its own degree, constitute an assault on the very core of the dignity of the human person, instrumentalizing life as part of a throwaway culture. The cry of the unborn and the cry of the poor must be at the core of Catholic political conversation in the coming years because these realities dwarf other threats to human life and dignity that confront us today.

So, it is the seamless, and moth-eaten, garment back with a vengeance.  McElroy of course is as transparent as glass.  This is an attempt to neuter the Church in the struggle against abortion and to give political cover to the party of abortion:  the Democrat Party.  Ironically, if Bishop McElroy were truly interested in combating poverty, the very last party he would support is the Democrat Party, with its ossified commitment to a manifestly dying welfare state that traps generation after generation in government dependence an poverty.  Of course this attempt to put poverty and abortion on the same moral footing is directly contrary to Church teaching, or at least that was the opinion of then Cardinal Ratzinger when he wrote to Cardinal  McCarrick in 2004:

1. Presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion should be a conscious decision,  based on a reasoned judgment regarding one’s worthiness to do so, according to  the Church’s objective criteria, asking such questions as: “Am I in full  communion with the Catholic Church? Am I guilty of grave sin? Have I incurred a  penalty (e.g. excommunication, interdict) that forbids me to receive Holy  Communion? Have I prepared myself by fasting for at least an hour?” The practice  of indiscriminately presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion, merely as a  consequence of being present at Mass, is an abuse that must be corrected (cf.  Instruction “Redemptionis Sacramentum,” nos. 81, 83).

2. The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The Encyclical  Letter Evangelium vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that  authorize or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a “grave and  clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. […] In the case of  an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it  is therefore never licit to obey it, or to ‘take part in a propaganda campaign  in favour of such a law or vote for it’” (no. 73). Christians have a “grave  obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if  permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the  moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. […] This  cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of  others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it”  (no. 74).

3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia.  For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the  application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not  for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy  Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war,  and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may  still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse  to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among  Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with  regard to abortion and euthanasia.

4. Apart from an individual’s judgment about his worthiness to present himself  to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion may find himself  in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone,  such as in cases of a declared excommunication, a declared interdict, or an  obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin (cf. can. 915).

5. Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal  cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician,  as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and  euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the  Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy  Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning  him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.

Perhaps Bishop McElroy never has read the letter?  Perhaps he read it and it has slipped his mind?  Perhaps he read it and doesn’t give a d–n?  If nothing else, PopeWatch expects the current papacy to be amusing in watching the antics of born again ultramontanes, who had little but contempt for prior Church teaching when it diverged from their preferred politics.





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  1. Liberals — including many bishops — in the Church would like to deny Republicans communion over welfare programs, but will fight unceasingly to prevent denying pro-abort Democrats communion.

    If liberals fought poverty the way pro-lifers fight abortion, they’d line up outside grocery stores with signs that read “pray for food”.

  2. Poverty is not an intrinsic evil as is murdering of the innocents. Yes, denying a decent, fair wage is a horrible sin, and one which, like sodomy and murder, cries out to God for vengeance. But, one can overcome poverty through heroic virtue and become a saint, while the dead baby is just….dead, without a chance for life. The compare poverty with abortion is a logical fallacy of false comparisons. Sad we have such a weak man as a bishop.

  3. Here’s the deal: I’d be willing to bet that everyone posting here is 100% committed to policies that would lead to the END of poverty (although we may disagree about what those policies may be).

    Can Pelosi say the same thing with respect to ending abortion?

  4. Yeah, the pro-poverty lobby does seem pretty sparse on the ground! 🙂

    On the other hand Nancy Pelosi would sooner eat ground glass than ever see the right to life of the unborn protected by law.

  5. The pro-poverty lobby is so full of love for the poor and their misguided policies have greatly increased the ranks of the poor . . .

  6. Concerning Nancy Pelosi and Bishop McElroy, some people have died for lesser crimes against God:

    Acts 5:1-11

    1 But a man named Ananias with his wife Sapphira sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. 7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Hark, the feet of those that have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all who heard of these things.

    1st Corinthians 5:1-5

    1* It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. 3* For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment 4* in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5* you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. *

    1st Timothy 1:19-20

    By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among them Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

    Revelation 2:20-23

    20* But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practice immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her on a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her doings; 23* and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches shall know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.

  7. Poverty and abortion are the same issue. Abortion is the genocide of the poor.

    I can’t begin to understand what that means.

    Only the poor choose abortion? Abortion is killing off the poor (Margaret Sanger would wish it so!)? If we (meaning society, which usually means “people other than or in addition to myself”) did more for the poor they wouldn’t resort to abortion?

  8. “Abortion is the genocide of the poor.”

    Such is the nature of bumper-sticker politics. Sounds awesome, means nothing.

  9. “Abortion is the genocide of the poor”

    While I agree that this phrase might remind someone of a bumper sticker quip, in fact it actually reveals a depth of meaning that could escape us. Is there any person more poor, more impoverished than an innocent whose life is terminated because they are seen as a problem for others? What I have just described is a general statement covering all innocents whose lives are taken from them. So let me even be more specific. Is there any person more poor than the human being being formed in their mother’s womb who is suddenly described as a burden to others and whose life is snuffed out?

    When Jesus went into the synagogue in Nazareth and taking the sacred scroll of the Prophet Isaiah read “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, therefore He has anointed me to proclaim Evangelion (good news; the gospel) to the poor” (Isaiah 61; Luke 4), what was he really saying?

    I can tell you that He was not calling for a Marxist/socialist revolution or reconstruction of the world’s society. However He was not calling for lasses-faire capitalist throwing an occasional bone to the hungry poor at the gate. It seems that Christians in general and Catholics in particular feel these two are the only options. This is borne out by them taking an either/or position on issues such as abortion and the poor. Those favoring the so called progressive position push all sorts of programs for the poor(usually by making more infrastructure and throwing more money at ‘the poor’), failing frequently in recognizing the mos impoverished are those unjustly deprived of life. Conservatives, thankfully, seek an end to abortion but have fits if this real social justice issue is expanded to care for the rest of the poor.

    What happens when we begin to allow the Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of Life, the Gospel to the Poor is really allowed to enter our hearts and minds when our eyes blinded by ideology can once again see His Face in the poor in the womb, at our gates, and in the disabled, sick and elderly?

  10. “Conservatives, thankfully, seek an end to abortion but have fits if this real social justice issue is expanded to care for the rest of the poor.”

    It already is expanded. That expansion is called Charity. As you state, He never calls for a Marxist/socialist revolution or reconstruction of the world’s society. In fact, He never calls for anything resembling a Statist solution, and even states elsewhere that there never will be a solution to poverty: “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

    There is no such thing as “Social Justice.” All Justice is individual, just as all Virtue is individual, and all Salvation is individual. There is no Charity by Proxy, and there certainly is no Charity by Extortion. Charitable actions are not collective in nature, just as you do not receive absolution because 80% of the people in your Knights of Columbus chapter went to confession.

    In his country, the two issues of poverty and abortion “flow” in different directions. Abortion is the deprivation of life of the most innocent and unable. Period. It’s a wholesale slaughter on Satan’s altar, and the blood of the martyred unborn cries out for justice.

    Poverty is only a deprivation if you take the most Keynesian, zero-sum economic models and impose them onto such individual aspects as character. Anybody who wishes can take advantage of the educational and vocational avenues that proliferate American society, and pull themselves up starting right now. All they need is diligence and drive. Charitable organizations that can assist those who embark on such a path are falling out of the trees.

    Babies in utero do not have the legal protection that they suddenly (usually) obtain upon seeing the sun. This should be changed – from the moment of conception, a human is a human and unnatural deprivation of life is murder. A small change in the law is all that is needed.

    “Poverty,” such as it exists in this country, exists because the government has chosen to buy off the drive and character of a victim class. That deprivation is both voluntary and commercially viable, it seems, and those who buy it are content in their purchases. This condition would be ameliorated by a decrease in government action.

    The sick would be much better off without government – only the most obtuse troll in the bunch here would try to refute that, and the elderly used to be cherished for their wisdom and experience. Without government “help,” families and communities could more than amply care for their own grandparents and great-grandparents.

    So, if the question is, “What happens when we begin to allow the Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of Life, the Gospel to the Poor is really allowed to enter our hearts and minds when our eyes blinded by ideology can once again see His Face in the poor in the womb, at our gates, and in the disabled, sick and elderly?” [sic] then the answer is not “Vote for the politicians with the biggest entitlement schemes.”

    The answer begins, as all do, with each of us individually, as He sees us. None of us may be able to save the world, but each can improve his or her own little corner of it; most importantly, each can rededicate his or her heart to following Christ. Each of us can become His feet, His hands and His eyes here on earth. The aggregate effect of countless virtuous individual actions always has a greater, and more mutually beneficial, outcome than the gross imposition of Statist, ideological top-down coercion.

    By itself, “Abortion is the genocide of the poor.” is not innaccurate. However, when trying to equate poverty and abortion in such a way as to justify legislative action in the elimination of poverty on moral grounds, it simply doesn’t hold water.

  11. Wk Aikens

    You have proven my point in my post concerning them blindness of ideology. We both agree that the progressive response to ‘the poor’ is not Gospel and frankly outlived its usefulness (if it ever had any). However the Gospel response to the poor can not be identified with the typical conservative response either.

    You state categorically that there is no such thing as ‘social justice’ yet the papal magisterium since Pope Leo XIII has stated that there is. An important caveat however is that the social justice of which the Church speaks is not at all the same as what liberal Protestantism and progressives claim it is, even if they overlap occasionally. “Charity” is indeed the response of the Church to the needs of all (Pope Benedict in Deus Caritas Est) but the response of every government must be one of justice (again Pope Benedict in Deus Caritas Est)

    Take some time, Immerse yourself in the ‘social encyclicals’ among which Pope Benedict counted Humanae Vitae, a very important point indeed.

    In the Sixties two famous Catholics made statements concerning their relationship to Church teaching, the Gospel. One we are more familiar with. The then candidate for President John F Kennedy broke the relationship not between Church and State or the Presidency and the Vatican, but the relationship of the individual Catholic, with the teaching of the Gospel. Most on this list are aware of this and deeply grieve this event and comment. It has led to countless Catholic politicians claiming they are personally against (for example) abortion but publicly for it. What Kennedy’s statement was was a real declaration of independence of an individual conscience from any objective moral law to define what indeed is the good that needds to be sought..

    However, in a less well-known figure of William Buckley, the great conservative commentator we find another sad statement, just as problematic as President Kennedy’s for American Catholics. After reading the social justice encyclical of Blessed John XXIII, Mater et Magister, Buckley quipped (as only he could with the use of English language) “Mater (mother) si (yes), Magister (teacher) non (no)!”

    We desperately need to move beyond both responses

  12. The phrase “Social Justice” is easy to take out of context and I am probably guilty of interpreting it politically, as that is the mein of the phrase where it’s found. As far as the Magisterium and the Encyclicals, I never stop enjoying swinging Rerum Novarum as a hammer on liberal Catholics who (still . . .?) push Liberation Theology-like ideas. As well, since the liberal view rests in the collective, anything that denies the primacy of the individual stinks. “Social Justice,” therefore, except in the Papal uses mentioned, usually does invoke the sour waft of classism and collectivism; perhaps unfairly, but the modern vernacular has done what it has done.

    So, those things said, perhaps a more consistent semantic would assist in developing an apolitical view, vis-a-vis “social justice.” Anecdotally, I know many political conservatives who, quietly and with no communication between left hands and right, do amazing amounts of work for “the poor.” They do not regard their actions as “social justice” but simply charity. My parish friends who pray at death clinics every weekend do not believe they are enacting “social justice.” they see the faces of the women who come to the door of the clinics where they are standing. These are individulas, as are the children they carry.

    Those who I refer to also have first-hand knowledge of what politics and bureaucracy, with their dehumanizing rules, regulations and demands, can do to God’s constructs of family and marriage. They see it every day, which is the fuel that drives the engines of their political bent. I imagine Mr. Buckley (or Mr. Wills) would perhaps throw a look askance at them, but that would be his folly, not theirs; as conservatism is based on the belief that government is a necessary evil that should be applied only where no other balm is effective, I hold their actions more indicative of the stripe than I do his (or his) invective.

    Kennedy . . . well, there he is. We studied that speech at the Jesuit prep school I attended during the Nixon-Ford years, and there was much contention then, as there is now, as to whether he was beholden to his Catholic ethic as an executive in a respresentational democracy. This of course led to the arguments regarding whether a religious ethic would be more suited to the executive of a Constitutional Republic instead, like the one the Founders had built (and their descendants almost immediately deconstructed.) And so on . . . besides, relying on a politician for any kind of clear indication of anything is like trying to sculpt with water.

    I don’t think it is possible in the current political crucible to talk about “social justice” anymore without being taken wrongly or simply being taken advantage of. The quasi-fascist tide in the west has eaten up what a doctrine of social justice would look like in a more libertarian, Republican political framework.

    This lone voice longs to simply move past the over-done left-right, Lib-Con, Rep-Dem duel and instead look at simple liberty vs. statism and responsibility vs. entitlement. At least for me, then, the Magisterium’s version of “social justice” would have a backgound more conducive to its true intent.

  13. First, thank you Donald, for setting me straight on the true author of the statement, “Mater si…”. Much obliged

    Now WK Aiken, I believe we are much closer in agreement than perhaps either of initially supposed. Keep on using Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum against Liberation Theology devotee. I would invite you to further read Pius XI’s Quadragessimo Anno (on the fortieth anniversary of Rerum Novarum). There you will discover the principle of subsidiarity being enunciated, the principle that radically challenges larger social bodies from taking over what smaller social bodies can deal with. Read within the whole “social teaching” of the Church it blows apart all those who believe the State (read big government) should take over everything or that The State by means of public schools actually should take over the rights of parents to educate their children-just a few examples.

    We, as Catholics need to go beyond parties, ideologies etc and be rooted in the teaching of the Church, the Gospel message

  14. Meanwhile, here’s one bishop who’s probably not going to be ANY politician’s pet:


    “A plan to recite the Rosary for the cause of same-sex marriage is “blasphemous,” Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois has said.

    “Catholics lobbying for legal recognition of same-sex marriage in Illinois (during a massive pro-gay marriage rally held today) have announced plans to gather at the city’s cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The bishop announced that anyone wearing the rainbow sash favored by the gay-rights movement will be denied entrance to the cathedral, and anyone who begins vocal prayers for same-sex marriage will be asked to leave.

    “It is blasphemy to show disrespect or irreverence to God or to something holy,” the bishops said. “Since Jesus clearly taught that marriage as created by God is a sacred institution between a man and a woman (see Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9), praying for same-sex marriage should be seen as blasphemous and as such will not be permitted in the cathedral.”

    However, the Francis Effect was not entirely absent:


    “Rick Garcia, a longtime gay activist and political director for Civil Rights Agenda, entered the church before the scheduled 5:15 p.m. Mass without incident — but was not wearing a rainbow-colored sash, he said.

    “He called Paprocki’s statement blasphemous, and a stark contrast to Pope Francis’ recent comments calling for the need to make the Catholic Church a more merciful, welcoming place.

    “We’re not committing blasphemy. The bishop’s committing blasphemy,” Garcia said.

  15. I’m a life-long Catholic from the UK. I navigated to this site following “the Pope Francis effect”, perhaps because he seems to be having an effect on me. I have found that all the popes of my life-time, starting with Paul VI have had effects both of great encouragement and at times deep exasperation. Indeed the same encyclical, Humanae Vitae, exasperated me as a teenager but in maturity has given me great encouragement.

    When I started reading this article I began to think “these folks are political idealogues first and followers of Christ second, so much vitriol and so little charity”. But I’m not a native speaker of American english so maybe I’m losing something in the non-translation. The American way of discussion always seems brash and aggressive when you are not used to it.

    What this brings to my mind is one of the things Benedict XVI sought to remind us of at the start of his reign: “Do not be afraid”. Fear takes many forms, often related to an unknown future. Maybe state provided welfare will diminish people’s self reliance and also their individual generosity, either of which move us away from personal holiness. The UK experience is that in some cases it does happen. But we still have our free will so what should we fear. Conversely lack of economic power in an environment where there is only self reliance or the mercy of individuals and no “entitlement” to rescue the weak certainly creates fear for the weak but it also puts the strong in the way of Darwinian temptation. Why should the fittest not survive and the feeble die out? A profoundly sub-human instinct. Something to fear? But we still have our free will.

    So I was greatly encouraged by the contributors calling for a move beyond the idealogical divides.


  16. Can you imagine if N. Pelosi, J. Biden, J. Kerry, A. Cuomo, K. Sebelius (to name just a few) supported legislation that permitted people to slaughter the poor? I can only suppose they don’t realize that this is what they are actually doing. If they saw the unborn as humans – and the poorest and most defenseless humans at that – they would not support legalized abortion.

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