PopeWatch: Families and the Devil



PopeWatch in many months of closely observing the words and actions of Pope Francis has reached a few firm conclusions, the most notable being that anyone who thinks he or she has this pope all figured out is badly mistaken.  A prime example of this was at a stadium filled with Catholic charismatics yesterday in Rome:

This was Francis’ response to the words pronounced by a young bride who greeted Francis on behalf of all families. “Let us pray to the Lord and ask him to protect the family in the crisis with which the devil wants to destroy it,” the Pope said. “Families are the domestic church where Jesus grows in the love of a married couple, in the lives of their children. This is why the devil attacks the family so much,” Francis explained. The devil doesn’t want it and tries to destroy it. The devil tries to make love disappear from there.”

Go here to read the rest at Vatican Insider.  The contradictions in the language and actions of Pope Francis can be intensely frustrating, but they must be examined carefully for anyone wishing to try to understand this pontificate.  Hence PopeWatch.


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  1. I am reminded of advice I received about reading the Gospels: “there are layers to Christ’s teaching, enough for a lifetime of contemplation.”

  2. I do not understand this Pontificate at all. Benedict XVI was usually exact, precise and careful. He would have made a good nuclear engineer.


    Francis on the other hand is confusing at best and contradictory most other times.


  3. Paul,
    One pope focused on the intellect; the other, the heart. What is it about this time in the temporal order that would cause the Holy Spirit to gift us with a pope so “heart centered”?

  4. Very nice, except what exactly does the devil do? His next thought could be, for all we know that the devil tries to destroy families through poor economies and the financial pressure that results. Or by lack of child care. Here, all he says that the devil tries to make love disappear – nothing about how evil might work to attempt to redefine marriage and the family…

    What we can understand about this pope is that he is prone to vagueness, which can be a sign of many things. It could be a sign of a shallow grasp of Catholic theology and spirituality, it could be a purposeful move to appeal to a lot of people on a superficial level, but really say nothing….

  5. I think that this present pope is easier to understand than you might imagine. I have noticed that, when he says something outrageous, or is soon about to do so, he cushions the blow beforehand and afterward with orthodox statements. One must look at the fruits to judge the tree. Bergoglio’s most prominent fruit is confusion. How unlike Christ can you get? Jesus told us, ‘Let your speech be ‘Yes! Yes”! ‘ and ‘No/! No!’ The sands shift continuously with the present bishop of Rome. Do not fall for his seemingly sounding rhetoric. He knows his crowd.

  6. The Pope also said this today:”This culture of comfort, he said, “has convinced us that ‘it’s better to not have children! It’s better. That way you can see the world, be on vacation, you can have a fancy home in the country, you’ll be carefree.'”

    People think it is better or easier “to have a puppy, two cats, and the love goes to the two cats and the puppy. Isn’t this true or not? Have you seen this?” he asked the people in the congregation.

    “And in the end, this marriage will end in old age in solitude, with the bitterness of bad solitude.”

    I don’t understand the difficulties some people have in understanding him. He makes perfect sense to me.

  7. Tom M:
    “I don’t understand the difficulties some people have in understanding him. He makes perfect sense to me. ”
    But does Pope Francis really mean what he is saying, or rather, “Are Pope Francis and I/we all on the same page?” And I can’t really answer that.
    There have been some priests before who have spoken some very beautiful things, only to be revealed as frauds later. And of course, there have been some “interesting” Popes down through the years. I do not know if Pope Francis will be revealed as “interesting” in the coming years (indeed, we may never know until the “fruit” of his pontificate ripens). Good things may come of his “heart centered” approach. Or perhaps three hundred years from know, people may look in their history books and see nothing more than just a couple of lines about him.
    For people who try to see things clearly/logically/rationally, Pope Francis is confusing. He is not speaking and acting in a way we understand.

  8. D J Hesselius wrote, “For people who try to see things clearly/logically/rationally, Pope Francis is confusing.”
    But as Bl John Henry Newman reminds us, “The heart is commonly reached, not through the reason, but through the imagination, by means of direct impressions, by the testimony of facts and events, by history, by description. Persons influence us, voices melt us, looks subdue us, deeds inflame us. Many a man will live and die upon a dogma: no man will be a martyr for a conclusion. A conclusion is but an opinion; it is not a thing which is, but which we are ‘quite sure about;’ and it has often been observed, that we never say we are sure and certain without implying that we doubt. To say that a thing must be, is to admit that it may not be. No one, I say, will die for his own calculations: he dies for realities”
    Pascal, whose logical faculties were acute enough, declares, “It is the heart which knows God, and not the reason. This, then, is perfect faith: God felt in the heart.”

  9. Our mercurial pope! He is sincere. I trust the Holy Spirit is leading him and he is trying to follow.
    I am not as comfortable with him as I wish I was since it is hard to be comfortable with a ship’s captain who one day seems to be steering for the rocks, the next day happily navigating the bounding blue.
    God will take care of us!

  10. Michael Paterson-Seymour: there are different people with different thought processes. If I followed me heart, I’m not at all sure I’d stay with the Church.

  11. D J Hesselius
    It is not a question of either/or; we all employ both
    As Pascal says, “We know truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart, and it is in this last way that we know first principles; and reason, which has no part in it, tries in vain to impugn them. … For the knowledge of first principles, as space, time, motion, number, is as sure as any of those which we get from reasoning. And reason must trust this knowledge of the heart and of instinct, and must base every argument on them. The heart senses that there are three dimensions in space and that the numbers are infinite, and reason then shows that there are no two square numbers one of which is double of the other. Principles are intuited, propositions are inferred, all with certainty, though in different ways. “

  12. Anzlyne: You know the funny thing? My husband was set to jump ship some years ago (before me.) Even asked his pastor about it. Guess what? Pastor said it was okay. If my husband was called elsewhere, then so be it. No hard feelings. He didn’t jump ship. Why? There was no point in jumping ship, since the local parishes were largely Protestantized any way. (They’ve taken a bit more of a Catholic tack since that time I guess.)
    MPS: Some people employ more heart, or more logic, than others. And I was responding to that. Pope Francis seems a rather free spirited, “heart” warm, fuzzy, pastoral kind of person. That kind of person can be rather confusing/frustrating to those who prefer the Yes, yes/No, no paradigm

  13. DJ Hesselius,
    Pope Francis may be offering a pastoral altenative to separated Catholics imbued with the false piety of a secular humanist culture. The young and uncatechized are not enamored of dogma and doctrine sans a great dollop of mercy.
    Father Robert Barron in his New Evangelization efforts leads the way in his “Catholicism” series with a plethora of all things Beautiful, Truthful and Good (ie., cathedral architecture, works of religious art, gregorian chant, stained glass windows (ie., Saint Chappelle).
    Father attracts the uninitiated and uncatechized Catholics by infusing their senses with resplendent beauty; Pope Francis attracts by modeling the promise of Christ’s mercy and wisdom The bleakness of secular culture cannot compete.

  14. That was the Holy Ghost that kept him and you from going overboard! Me too I’ve bee terrible mad at betrayers, for the danger my family is in because of iniquities of church men. But we’ve got to hold on, hold on to what we’ve got.
    “blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” means us. Hard to see on this current darkness, but today we celebrate Charles Lwanga etal. They kept the Faith! Joyfully we are told.

  15. PF’s frankness about the Devil – not for the first time – is very instructive. Bravo and for those not listening, beware!

  16. “Holy Ghost.” I love that phrase. Seems more intimate, more personable than “Holy Spirit.”
    I’m not trying to bash Pope Francis for his style. Admittedly, it doesn’t quite work for me [and, I gather it doesn’t quite work for a certain nuclear engineer who posts on this site, but I don’t want to presume too much, which is why I’m not naming names. 🙂 ]. If Pope Francis leads people to Christ and to the Church, they repent of their sins, and eventually get with the Church Dogma program, that’s great. Or “I’m down with that,” as my oldest son would say.
    Another gentleman above mentioned that Pope Francis seemed clear to him. I was trying simply to explain why he doesn’t seem so clear to me and to some others.

  17. If we have learned anything rearing children it is that we all have different learning and loving styles!
    I guess my DNA still shows my Pentecostal grammas. When I’m teaching or studying I think Holy Spirit, but when it’s down in my stomach glad in The Lord’s power it’s Holy Ghost!
    But – for real satisfaction – say “Roooahh!”
    Sounds like what He is!

  18. @Grace on Monday, June 2, A.D. 2014 at 8:22am: spot-on!
    @Donald R. McClarey: perhaps a topic for PopeWatch, Pope Francis’ theology.
    e.g. Jesus’ wounds are the price of forgiveness, says Pope | http://www.patheos.com/blogs/catholicnews/2014/06/jesus-wounds-are-the-price-of-forgiveness-says-pope/
    “And Jesus, when he goes to heaven, carries there a gift for the Father. Have you thought about this? What is the gift that Jesus brings to the Father? His wounds,” the Pope told the crowds filling St. Peter’s Square on June 1.
    “And when he goes to the Father, he says to the Father, ‘look, Father: this is the price of forgiveness you give. And when the Father sees Jesus’ scars, he always forgives us.”
    Strange theology!

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