In the spirit of full disclosure I want to say that I was baptized a Catholic, attended weekly Catechism classes and went to church every (well, almost every) Sunday. I well remember the teachings of the church regarding violations of the Ten Commandments and other sins that could only be wiped away by the sacrament of Communion. Additionally, we were taught that the Pope is the messenger of God and the job of his holiness is to support and defend the principles of the Bible. To my young mind that meant the principles are inviolate, not subject to the whims of the culture. My understanding was, if I committed a sin I could atone for it by an act of confession and a cleansing of the soul through a set of prayers assigned to me by a priest.
At no time was it explained that the definition of a sin could be modified according to recent societal mores, or by a politically correct Pope. Moreover, we were never told that we could continue to commit sins as long as we said we were sorry about it later. Nevertheless, Pope Francis recently granted priests the authority to forgive the sin of abortion during a special Holy Year of Mercy beginning this December 8, and ending November 20 of next year. The only stipulation is that the women declare that they are sorry about destroying the child in the womb. The Pope said some women don’t comprehend the “extreme harm that such an act entails, while others “believe they have no other option.” That means women have 11 months to commit the “sin” of abortion without having any religious prohibition attached to it.
Suppose that same logic was used in our court system. John Doe, a recidivist bank robber, rips off the local savings and loan, is captured and brought before a judge. His honor says, “Mr. Doe, you’ve sinned against society, probably because you didn’t comprehend the harm it entails, or, you feel you have no other option. My judgment is that you have the next 11 months to rob again, without sustaining any criminal penalties.” Wouldn’t that mean it’s open season on banks across the country? Isn’t granting absolution for abortion during the next 11 months an invitation to commit more abortions? It’s not that I think for a minute that women inclined toward abortion really care what the Pope says on this issue. The point is that they are not bending to his will, he is bending to theirs.
There was a time when the Catholic Church and the Pontiff had the moral authority to impose their will on the sinners of the world, but, that was before they were exposed as recidivist sinners themselves. It was bad enough when some priests were being accused of pedophilia, but, when the church circled the wagons, instead of defrocking the morally-depraved misfits and handing them over to the police, the entire foundation of Catholicism began to crumble. The result is a Pope who was chosen to heal the wounds by appearing less like a hypocrite and more like a statesman. That means he must say things that don’t collide too severely with the culture shift that’s been transmogrifying the definition of morality until it no longer has meaning or value in western civilization.
Furthermore, in a continuing attempt to blend in with the dominant media-driven thought regarding global warming, his holiness has recently sounded more like a liberal Democrat than a marketer of religious doctrine. When he threw the weight of the Catholic Church behind an appeal to combat climate change, he sounded more like a politician than a priest. Declaring that the future of humanity is at stake, while dismissing critics as “deniers,” is a phrase directly out of the Democrat playbook. One wonders if he would have dared visit this very liberal White House, or whether he would have been welcomed by this President and First Lady, if he hadn’t paved the way first by submitting to the leftist orthodoxy of his hosts.
There are other areas in which the Pope has backpedaled, causing consternation among many who once thought they had the correct views on Christian philosophy, only to discover that their religious education was much more flexible than they realized. I don’t doubt that it’s all about bringing back millions of disaffected former loyalists to the teachings of Christ. But, what will be gained by returning to a place that no longer has the courage to stand up for the values that forged a civilization out of a savage and barbarous wilderness?
Bob Weir is a veteran of 20 years with the New York Police Dept. (NYPD), ten of which were performed in plainclothes undercover assignments. Bob began a writing career about 16 years ago and had his first book published in 1999. He also became a syndicated columnist under the title “Weir Only Human.”