Were you disappointed with Pope Francis trip to America?
Most American Catholics were hoping to hear the Holy Father speak out against gay marriage and abortion; the two issues that are pressing upon the American people. But he didn’t. Francis consciously chose to avoid these issues. For some, the Pope’s silence on these matters is a source of disdain and disappointment. They expected the Holy Father to provide direction, because he is, after all, the supreme teacher of faith and morals in the Catholic Church. So, was the Pope’s visit to America a disappoint?
Before we can answer this question we need to ask another.
Is the pope obligated to talk about morality every time he speaks?
The simple answer is no. The pope is not obligated to speak on morals every time he gives a speech.
It would be inappropriate for the pope to address moral issues during every public engagement. St. Augustine says, “Prudence is love discerning aright that which helps from that which hinders us in tending to God.” Pope Francis has never shied away from the tough moral problems that face the Church, but there is always a time and place to speak about them. He discerned that Americans didn’t need to hear him talk about gay marriage and abortion, probably because he has already made his position clear.
Here are a few examples of Pope Francis’ past remarks on abortion and gay marriage:
“To abort is to kill someone who cannot defend himself” (On Heaven and Earth).
“When we see that the birth rate of a society is barely one percent, we can say that this society is sad, it is grey because it has no children” (General Audience).
In an address given before the Argentinian government voted on approving gay marriage, Pope Francis, then Cardinal Bergolio said:
“In the coming weeks, the Argentine people will face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family…
At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.
This is not simply a political struggle, but an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is not just a bill but a move of the Father of Lies, who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”
If that isn’t enough, Francis denounced abortion and gay marriage in one word during a speech given in Manila:
“The family is threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life.”
After reading these remarks from the Pope it should be obvious that he upholds and affirms the Church’s teachings on gay marriage and abortion. Francis did not come to America to give an exhortation on morality.
Francis came to America to celebrate the family!
Throughout his time in America the Pope emphasized the beauty of the family. He poignantly said in one speech that the family is the most beautiful thing that God created. Jesus Himself is welcomed into humanity in and through a family. Francis stressed that the family is a place of love and hope where Jesus desires to dwell.
Although Pope Francis did not speak out against gay marriage and abortion, he did uplift and affirm the family. He must have discerned that it was more prudent to speak about the love of Jesus in the family than to emphasize the Church’s moral teachings on marriage and life.
Could Francis have done better?
Probably, but he admits this himself:
“When the plane leaves after a visit, I see the faces of so many people. I get the urge to pray for them and say to the Lord, ‘I came here to do something, to do good, perhaps I have done wrong, forgive me but protect all those people who saw me, who thought of what I said, who heard me, even those who have criticized me, all of them.’ That is what I feel.”
Pope Francis’ trip to America was not a disappointment. During his brief stay, he affirmed and upheld the dignity of the family, a dignity that is being undermined.