Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Missing the Evangelical Point: Our Impoverished Reception of the Pope’s Words

1st Oct 2013         

by Kathryn Jean Lopez
Catholic Pulse

Was anyone else disturbed not by Pope Francis’ widely covered interview published this month but by the hard polarization in the air in response to it? Politics is how we process things — “left” and “right,” my guy, your guy. I get it. But the Holy Father is pleading with us to go deeper, live deeper — in imitation of Christ. I’m sorry, but I’m not spending my life trying to fit into a Democrat or Republican paradigm, even as I have to vote one way or another and absolutely have an obligation to civil engagement.

Catching up on some of the commentary, I saw that in the midst of news analysis reflecting “conservative” and “liberal” enthusiasm for the first extended interview by Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope and the first pontiff from the Americas, my own response was interpreted by some as a bitter clinging to “culture wars.” One commentator responding to my take offered as evidence my citation of George Weigel’s latest book. My initial reaction to the interview, on National Review Online, was taken as “my side,” so to speak, trying to stake claim to this pope. Some of the commentaries and even some of the news pieces depicted conservatives as being on the defensive after the papal interview, suggesting they were trying to tell the world what the pope meant to say.

Other editorialists pointedly claimed that conservatives and anyone with a heart for marriage and pro-life activism were being admonished and might want to get with a more Progressive program.

I assume the pope said what he meant to say, of course, and as his words exist in multiple languages now (after what was reported as rigorous translating), there’s no point to trying to invent words he didn’t say — even as I listened to and read news coverage that outright misled people about what the pope was saying, probably because those reporting the news had never actually read the interview.
For my part, I simply was reading the interview, always linking to the same interview, hoping to entice people to do what I did: Read it! Don’t take my word for it! Just like I pray you don’t take my word for what Catholicism is: Experience it. Encounter Christ! Let Him encounter you. My quoting Weigel (who would share his own response to the interview with NRO readers shortly thereafter) was an honest reaction in response to what I read from the pope.

(And, frankly, it presented an opportunity to link to an interview I did with Weigel when his book first came out about what Evangelical Catholicism is all about, which I happen to think is quite rich, for anyone wanting to know more. Another evangelical opportunity in linkage! )

Read the rest here:

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