SANTA ROSA, CA, Sept. 25, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Following Pope Francis’ call for the Church to find a “new balance” and reduce what he suggested was undue emphasis on controversial moral issues, one of the American episcopate’s great defenders of life and family affirmed the Pope’s desire to proclaim the basic Gospel message but insisted that the Church must remain vocal in promoting the truth on the most pressing issues of the day.
The media has widely reported that the Pope, in an interview published Thursday by Rome’s La Civilta Catholica and Jesuit magazines around the world, said the Church must not be “obsessed” by issues like abortion, homosexuality, and contraception. But Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Clara, Calif. says he has not seen evidence of such an obsession.
“I certainly do know that there are individuals, and I certainly would probably be among them, who firmly believe that these are core cultural issues about which we must be vocal,” the prelate told the Press Democrat on Friday. “But I’m not obsessed about them. A vast majority of the things that I write do not include abortion as a topic or contraception or divorce and remarriage.”
“Is there a need for teaching about those things? Absolutely. Are there some folks who overstep the boundary and say, ‘OK we’re preaching about this every single Sunday?’ Well, there may be. But there’s a vast majority of people who never talk about it,” he continued.
“[If] everyone talked about it a little, there would be fewer who feel the need to talk about it more,” he added.
In the Pope’s interview, which ran to 12,000 words, he spoke only briefly about the moral issues.
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” he said.
“This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that,” he added. “But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”
The off-the-cuff remarks were interpreted by much of the mainstream press as a call by the Pope for the Church to downplay, or even abandon, its teachings on difficult moral issues.
But that narrative was interrupted on Friday when the pope issued his strongest remarks to date against abortion, condemning the practice as a manifestation of a “throwaway culture.”
Bishop Vasa’s assessment is along the same lines as that made by Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura and America’s most senior prelate, in an interview this summer months before the Pope’s interview was published.
The Cardinal told Minneapolis’ The Catholic Servant that the Church has not been nearly outspoken enough on controversial issues like homosexuality. He said there’s been “a failure of catechesis both of children and young people that has been going on for fifty years.”
“It is being addressed, but it needs much more radical attention,” he continued. “There is far too much silence — people do not want to talk about it because the topic is not ‘politically correct.’ But we cannot be silent any longer or we will find ourselves in a situation that will be very difficult to reverse.”
A traditionalist priest from Connecticut said he values greatly the Pope’s insistence that the mercy of God lies at the heart of the gospel message. But he wondered how it was possible for the Church to imitate Jesus in saying “go and sin no more” when society today has “abolished or relegated to a dark past” the very idea of sin. “If the Church only preaches mercy without preaching the deadly nature of sin, then she is not true to the mission given to her by Christ,” he said.
This is absolutely correct. There is an entire generation which has no idea of mortal sin, sanctifying grace, heaven, purgatory and hell. This is because the subjects are never preached from the pulpit, and as an aftermath of Vatican II, there are no teaching brothers or sisters to teach these truths. As the result, love and social justice (including the environment) is all that one ever hears. I don’t recall ever having heard abortion, contraception or same sex marriage condemned from the pulpit.
What the Bishop says is true. When I heard the media quoting the pope (the interview was cut to fit the agenda of the press, obviously)—I immediately thought “who is obsessed?” Too many in the Church have done very little to stop the pro-abortion and pro-homosexual agenda in this country and in Europe. Look at the latest news coming from MA for example. Now traditional couples can not foster or adopt—unless they bow to the homosexual/transgender agenda. This is serious! Catholic agencies can not handle adoptions anymore due to the same political forces.
You are correct about Catholic adoption agencies having to stop offering this service to the community. We adopted our kids with the help of Catholic Charities in 2004 and 2008. I had hoped to adopt one more time, but our state passed a same-sex “marriage” law and CC decided not to allow any new potential adoptive parents into the pool. They will help to match the couples already on the list, then offer crisis pregnancy assistance without adoption services. We chose CC because they were the most reasonable to work with and priced as a true non-profit. The homosexual lobby has done a huge disservice to the community. I doubt that they care about that, though. Even though there are already a number of adoption agencies that would work with them, they had to keep pushing until all would work with them.
Same-sex “marriage” and abortion are huge issues in the U.S. right now. The people who want to erase traditional values are pushing hard, and if we stop pushing back, we’ll end up with another “law of the land” (same-sex “marriage”). If we stop being vocal about abortion and trying to get clinics closed and laws changed, babies will continue to die. I realize that the media was twisting the Pope’s message, but I have to admit that I am puzzled by a few of his comments. So many denominations have done a good job of spreading the message of mercy, but they have neglected to speak about sin and repentance. The full message of the Gospel has been somewhat diluted in the last 40 years or so. It would be a terrible mistake for the Church to stop speaking about sin for fear of offending someone.
Contraception, abortion, and immoral sexual activity are not the only issues being faced by the Catholic Church. Other issues being faced by the Catholic Church include the failure to properly catechize Catholics, the rejection of teachings on fundamental principles of morality, the rejection of teachings on matters of faith, the unworthy reception of Holy Communion, and the invalid reception of the sacraments.
My liberal friends were ecstatic. Yet there is no doubt of the Holy Fathers opposition to the scourge of abortion. The pope views the Church as a field hospital after battle, “it is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol….”
I see two problems arising from the language he uses. I would not equate abortion, same-sex marriage, and contraception with “high cholesterol” versus a “serious injury.”
Secondly, if someone does not consider themselves “seriously injured” they will not seek out the Divine Physician.
Of course, with the American bishops’ lack of action regarding high profile Catholics who are pro-choice, it adds to the erroneous perception that they are not serious, or that the teaching can be changed. Unless there is more precise language coming from the pope as well as the bishops taking action to match their words, the New Evangelization is going to be even tougher.