Trump’s Greatest Crime

I have barely posted in the last couple of months, and may not post much more for a time. I have found myself faced with unexpectedly having to move after 15 years at the same address. More about that later. This has also meant that I haven’t been able until now to discuss the latest Trump scandal — the human rights abuse at our southern borders. I want to make up for some lost time.

border

Migrant families enter to be processed at a bus station on June 29, 2018, in McAllen, Texas.

The last few days have been among the last few nightmarish of the Trump presidency so far. In the light of the Helsinki press conference with Putin, even some Republicans are suggesting that Trump may have committed treason with his careless unconcern about that fact that Russia appears to have bought the 2016 election. They’re just not certain whether they should impeach him for it.  (Keep in mind that Bill Clinton was impeached for committing perjury, Nixon for ordering a “second-rater burglary” — petty crimes compared to this).

You know what I say? Forget Russia: Trump should be impeached for the human rights abuses at our southern border – where he is depriving many helpless endangered people of their rights under the U.S. Constitution, permanently traumatizing thousands of children and their parents, and doing all of this with deliberate and calculated malice and cruelty.

In May it was revealed that the administration was adopting a new “zero tolerance” policy for “illegal immigration.” Anyone caught crossing the U.S. border anywhere but at a legal entry point would be charged with a felony. Their children would be removed from them immediately, as children can’t be kept with incarcerated parents. We were assured that those crossing at the legal entry points would not be prosecuted. Trump’s supporters smugly echo his words: “Don’t come to our country illegally — that’s the solution.”

More than 2,500 children have been separated according to this policy and have been housed in separate detention centers in often appalling conditions. The public outcry was so enormous that Trump was finally obliged to back down. He and his administration are now faced with having to return the children to their parents by court order by July 26.

But more and more evidence and eyewitness reports suggest that the plan seems to have been quite otherwise: to charge all those seeking asylum with a felony in attempting to enter the U.S. even if they used the legal port of entry, and to tell them they could get their children back only if they waved their asylum claims. Once they had done this, parents and children would be deported — provided the children could be found. It is becoming clearer and clearer that the Administration has never had any coherent plan for re-uniting children and parents.

“But they entered illegally!. . . “   Take a look at what this actually means.

A woman named Lauren Pope got into a Facebook discussion with some anti-illegal immigrant folks. She had an impressive array of facts on her side, but ended up replying to a bunch of screaming people spouting simplistic rhetoric, false assumptions, and unadulterated anger at the “illegals.”

She eventually edited her discussion down to an impressive look at the reality involved in our border dispute.

Sounds rational, right? Don’t come into our country illegally. Follow the legal process. Wait in line. I mean, we’ve all heard these things. The problem is that crossing a border illegally doesn’t actually prevent you from applying for asylum. In fact, you MUST be physically present on American soil to file for asylum. Huh? Let’s talk a bit about the asylum process in America.

One thing that we’ve heard a lot over the past few weeks is that if someone wants to seek asylum in America, they should present themselves at a port of entry. And it is true, presenting at a port of entry IS a path to an affirmative asylum claim.

Here’s the problem, though. Our government has been *illegally* preventing people from entering the country if they suspect that they are attempting to seek asylum. We’ve gone so far as to intimidate people on the other side of the border to prevent crossings. Families have been kept waiting in the searing sun for days upon days, with no intention to ever let them in, for the express purpose of getting them to turn away. Again, THIS IS ILLEGAL. However, it’s happening.

After waiting for days in the sun, they discover that if they illegally cross into the country, then they can declare themselves for asylum on the other side.

THIS IS 100% TRUE. An immigrant, regardless of how they entered the country, has a year to declare themselves and apply for asylum once they enter the US. How you got into the country is completely irrelevant.

Now, some people may say, “Ok, so I guess that’s the law, but I mean they still broke the law by crossing the border, why didn’t they just go to an embassy or something?”

Well, here’s the thing. You can not apply for asylum at an embassy. An embassy can only process *refugee* applications. And, of course, we all know that we have slashed refugee admissions since the beginning of the Trump administration. Also, the regulations about who qualifies as a refugee are of course different than who qualifies as an asylum seeker. So yes, *refugees* can apply at a US embassy, but affirmative asylum seekers MUST be physically present in the US.

Got it? Good.

So, we’ve blocked the legal border crossing path (Policy Change # 1), so the ONLY way that a person can apply for affirmative asylum is to somehow get into America and then present themselves for asylum.

This is where Policy Change #2 comes in. Previously, when a person illegally crossed into the US and presented themselves for asylum, they would be ticketed for the (misdemeanor) crime of Illegal Entry and then given a date to begin processing their asylum claim.

At this point the person who crossed illegally and the person who crossed at the port of entry are indistinguishable in terms of legality and process. Their claims were processed and they were either granted or rejected.

The Trump Administration changed this policy. Instead of self-reporting asylum seekers being ticketed and then given a date to begin their asylum processing, they are simply being *detained*.

In fact, we’ve even been detaining the very few people who are able to somehow get through a port of entry. People who’ve broken zero laws.

This is what triggered the child separation crisis . It is new. Parents who anticipated that they would pay a modest fine ($50-$250) were instead arrested and their children were taken from them.

Again, I need to remind you that entering the country illegally has absolutely no baring on your asylum eligibility and that a person MUST be physically present in the US in order to claim asylum.

So, after their children were ripped from their arms, these parents have accepted deportation orders in exchange for dropping their asylum requests with the promise that if they do so their children will be returned.

Essentially, their children are being used as blackmail to prevent people from continuing their COMPLETELY LEGAL applications for asylum.

I know that was a lot to take in, but now I’m going to address some common objections that I have seen about this entire process.

“Doesn’t the UN require that asylum seekers stop at the First Safe Country to apply for asylum?”

No. This is a *discretionary* rule, meaning that countries are free to decide for themselves if they will enforce it or not. We have historically not (aside from a special relationship with Canada). However, if we did want to enforce this rule, there are very specific restrictions that must be followed in order to send someone back to this “First Safe Country”. The biggest one is that the country must accept the asylum seeker in the first place. Mexico has been unwilling to do this, so even if we ignore *their* human rights violations which call into question if they are actually “safe” we simply can not demand someone return to a country that will not acknowledge them.

“They broke the law!”

Yes, they broke a misdemeanor law that does not impact their ability to apply for asylum in any way. And, they broke it in order to *comply* with our own immigration laws and in response to our own illegal policies.

“We can’t let everyone in!”

Logistics aside, this is all simply talking about allowing someone to begin the asylum process. No one is suggesting that everyone who asks for asylum should have it automatically granted. We’re just saying that no one should be blackmailed with never seeing their children again so they abandon their claim.

“Nothing has changed. This policy has been around for 30 years!”

Blocking Ports of Entry to asylum seekers and detaining people for misdemeanor charges has created a crisis situation in which there is currently NO LEGAL WAY for ANYONE to claim asylum aside from the whim of a random agent. (source)

What people harping on “legality” don’t realize is that legality means nothing to Trump, Attorney General Sessions and Stephen Miller, the alt-right advisor who actually came up with the policy. They are as much against legal immigration as they are the illegal kind. They are racists and white nationalists and want to keep foreigners out.

This is why Sessions has been busy reviewing cases of asylum that have been handled by the courts, reducing as much as possible the legal grounds for asylum. No longer do fear of domestic violence or fear of gangs or the drug cartels they’re connected with qualify. Keeping everyone out, legal or illegal — it’s the reason for the whole cruel game.

Sources:

https://immigration-law.freeadvice.com/immigration-law/asylum/filing_American_embassy.htm

https://theintercept.com/2018/06/16/immigration-border-asylum-central-america/

https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/refugees-asylum/asylum/obtaining-asylum-united-states

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/07/more-evidence-emerges-that-trump-intended-for-family-separation-to-be-permanent.htmld

http://www.kmov.com/story/38622499/at-the-border-my-son-was-taken-from-me

https://www.texasmonthly.com/news/whats-really-happening-asylum-seeking-families-separated/

The Perils of Pope Francis III: God and Being Gay (cont)

Part I is here.

Cruz

Juan Carlos Cruz

Before anything else, I would like to put in a good word for a new blog that deals with some of the subjects I’ve been talking about here: Where Peter Is. It has some excellent writers, including Peter Vere and Pedro Gabriel, who are devoted to defending Pope Francis and the Holy See in these troubled times. In fact, Vere has written an excellent post about the subject I’m about to take up.

Now that I’ve shown in Part I that, contrary to what some Catholics think, Pope Francis does believe and teach what the Church actually does teach about homosexuality, let’s go to this latest story.

Juan Carlos Cruz, a former seminarian, is one of three survivors of abuse by Fr. Fernando Karadima. They had accused the bishop Juan Barros, who Francis had appointed bishop of Osorno, Chile in 2015, of witnessing their abuse and did nothing. They and other survivors had written Pope Francis about Barros, but had received no answer. Francis defended Barros against all criticism, until he changed course at the beginning of this year, and realized that the evidence showed Barros was guilty. As a result of a meeting at the Vatican, the whole Chilean episcopate has turned in their resignations to the Pope.

The three victims have also met with Pope Francis at the Vatican, staying with him at the Santa Marta residence from April 26 to May 1. It was after this meeting that Cruz gave his interview to El Pais, in which he claimed that Francis had said that God made him gay and loves him that way.

In the extreme reactions, many Catholics are not considering the whole story. The background and context are all important here. The interview with Juan Carlos is essential reading, though of course, no more than a sentence or two has been translated into English in the secular press.  I’ve translated the whole interview into English. It’s too long for me to reproduce in its entirety, so I will just deal with the highlights. But I’ve posted it all on a separate page here.

Juan Carlos’ talk with the Pope was not just a brief greeting. The young man says that during his stay, he met with the Pope on several occasions, and talked with him “for hours, as if I had known him all my life.” He recounts how he wept while he described his abuse and how the Pope comforted him.

The interviewer hints that Juan Carlos had been made to suffer by some in the Chilean Church because of his homosexuality more than for any other reason. Another report confirms this, saying that some Latin American bishops used the fact that Juan Carlos is an admitted homosexual to brand him a liar. Yet another story, in America, the Jesuit magazine, says:

[Juan Carlos] said he told the pope that when he came forward with allegations of sexual abuse, leaders in the Chilean church, including Cardinal Javier Errazuriz, a member of the pope’s advisory council, said that since Cruz is gay, he was not a legitimate victim of abuse because he may have “liked” it. (Source)

In his interview, Juan Carlos said that he told Pope Francis about this further abuse by the hierarchy. He described “how [the bishops] tried to make us feel guilty. He had been told that I was a deranged person. They had told him that I did not believe, that I was an enemy of the Church. I told him that this made me very angry because I continue to believe, and still love the Church. . . . ‘My faith is tremendously important to me, Your Holiness,’ I said to him. I find it frightening that they even treat me like this to destroy me.”

Now let’s look at the crucial sentences where the Pope speaks to Juan Carlos about his homosexuality:

“He had practically been told that I was a wicked person. There I explained to him that I am not the reincarnation of St. Aloysius Gonzaga but I am not a bad person, I try not to hurt anyone. He told me “Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and he loves you like this and it doesn’t matter to me. The Pope loves you like this, you have to be happy with who you are. ”

It seems to me that the reason the Pope spoke as he did is clear. He needs to reassure this young man attacked viciously by many in the Church simply because of his homosexual identity that God and the Pope love him unconditionally just as he is. Once again, many have leaped to the conclusion that “God wants you this way” means “God made you gay as just another perfectly legitimate variant of sexuality, which can be fulfilled with whatever acts you like with whoever you like.” Of course, the Pope has not been recorded as saying any of this.

Nothing the Pope did say to Juan Carlos on this subject goes against any defined Church teaching, because the Church does not have any defined teaching on how the homosexual inclination arises. The Catechism leans towards accepting a psychological origin, though this is not a magisterial statement (CCC no. 2357). Yet the Catechism also says that the inclination itself is “objectively disordered,” that is, something is not right in this person’s inner makeup (essentially, his sexual urges are directed to the wrong kind of object).

But this still leaves unanswered questions. If people are “born gay” because of genetics (I for one don’t think they are), or if it arises through psychological trauma or other factors, we do, like it or not, have to deal with the question: why does God permit them to be that way? Does he cause it directly (His pure, actual will) or just allow it to happen (His permissive will)? And why does he do it?

The pro-homosexual answer just given tries to answer the question, but has to go against the whole Christian tradition to do so. We cannot agree that trying to fulfill homosexual desires that God gives people or allows them to have is a good thing; but then why do they have them? This is the same question, of course, that we have to ask about all kinds of suffering.

Let’s look at what Jesus said about this question. He and his apostles saw a man blind from birth. The disciples asked: “Who sinned that this man should be blind, he or his parents?” They must have reasoned that since blindness is clearly not a good thing, God could only have allowed it as punishment. Jesus answers: “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made manifest through him.” (Jn 9:1-2). He most likely meant, “He was born blind this way so that someday I would heal him and show God’s glory though doing so.”

But this is not the only possibility. In fact, God leaves many people unhealed in this life, but the works of God are revealed through them. Our Lady’s intercession has cured many through the miraculous spring at Lourdes – but it did not cure St. Bernadette’s asthma. The works of God were revealed through Bernadette not through a healing by her faithfulness and her suffering. Many homosexual persons do not have this wound in their nature healed, but God can still work through them by faithful chaste living, suffering, or by witnessing to God’s truths about the human person in other ways, including proclaiming the truth about abuse. All these reasons and others we don’t know about, are the reasons God has in his providential plan, and our lives are in accordance with His will when we accept our situation and embrace what that means in our lives. We can probably assume that this is also part of what Francis was trying to explain to Juan Carlos.

“Well,” some Catholic writers have said,  “If this is what the Pope meant, he should have clarified it. But he is silent, so he must think the pro-homosexual interpretation going around is accurate. If he does not clarify it, he is deliberately leading the Church into confusion.” (In fact, this is Phil Lawler’s take, which Pete Vere has addressed here). But if he did try to explain “No, this is not what I said,” how would that come out any other way than calling Juan Carlos a liar once again, victimizing him again after so much work to rebuild trust with the victims? It would have been cruel. Pope Francis did not have any real recourse but to trust in the intelligence of Catholics — and once again to be disappointed.

One last point: I trust that many Catholics know that St. Aloysius Gonzaga, whom Juan Carlos mentioned, was a young Jesuit novice who died nursing plague victims in Rome in 1591; he is particularly celebrated for his purity, and is considered the patron saint of students and seminarians. In speaking of him, Juan Carlos seems to be acknowledging that some of his behavior is not in accordance with the Christian ideal. In fact, he has also said that while he thinks Church teaching on homosexuality should change, he recognizes that Pope Francis has not changed it by his words. One more good reassure we can assure ourselves that the Pope is still Catholic.

 

The Perils of Pope Francis III: God and Being Gay

PopeI had been planning all along to write a major post on the Pope Francis sound bite that seems to have caused the most angst: his “Who am I to judge?” remark, which has made some people believe that he condones active homosexuality.

But now a new and even more explosive controversy has arisen over the same question that makes it urgent for me to write about it now: Pope Francis recently spent some time at the Vatican with some Chilean survivors of priestly sexual abuse, and one of the young men said that the Pope told him: “God made you this way” and “you have to accept yourself as you are.”

The first thing to be note, of course, is that we are not dealing with an actual quote by Pope Francis here, but someone else’s impression of what he said. Most of the time, the people who decry Pope Francis’ “scandalous” statements misinterpret his actual words and repeat them erroneously. So I am not surprised that a traumatized emotional abuse survivor might not interpret Francis wholly accurately either — and that this interpretation will be picked up and misinterpreted further.

More than this, all too many Catholics reading this report are already prejudiced against Pope Francis. “I’ve suspected for a long time already that he’s a heretic, and now this proves it!” I have actually heard this repeatedly with each new “scandal.” For this reason, before I discuss his most recent remarks, I will talk about the almost-five-year-old catchphrase “Who am I to judge?” which has prejudiced so many people against him. What did the Pope really mean here? You might be surprised.

Let’s go into it remembering our rules: 1) Read the whole thing. 2) Read with an open mind. 3) Context, context, context. 4) Beware of translation problems.

Let’s start with the context: Pope Francis was asked a question about a Msgr. Ricca, the Pope’s representative at the Vatican Bank, who was under investigation for having a sexual relationship with a man; many suspected that he was part of the famous “gay lobby” or “gay mafia” at the Vatican. Some reports also brought up some past allegations about his sexual conduct, while he was serving as a papal diplomat.

Now let’s read the entire thing. And read with special care, because this passage contains some things that have been almost completely overlooked.

Ilze Scamparini

I would like permission to ask a delicate question: another image that has been going around the world is that of Monsignor Ricca and the news about his private life. I would like to know, Your Holiness, what you intend to do about this? How are you confronting this issue and how does Your Holiness intend to confront the whole question of the gay lobby?

Pope Francis

About Monsignor Ricca: I did what canon law calls for, that is a preliminary investigation. And from this investigation, there was nothing of what had been alleged. We did not find anything of that. This is the response. But I wish to add something else: I see that many times in the Church, over and above this case, but including this case, people search for “sins from youth”, for example, and then publish them. They are not crimes, right? Crimes are something different: the abuse of minors is a crime. No, sins. But if a person, whether it be a lay person, a priest or a religious sister, commits a sin and then converts, the Lord forgives, and when the Lord forgives, the Lord forgets and this is very important for our lives. When we confess our sins and we truly say, “I have sinned in this”, the Lord forgets, and so we have no right not to forget, because otherwise we would run the risk of the Lord not forgetting our sins. That is a danger. This is important: a theology of sin. Many times I think of Saint Peter. He committed one of the worst sins, that is he denied Christ, and even with this sin they made him Pope. We have to think a great deal about that. But, returning to your question more concretely. In this case, I conducted the preliminary investigation and we didn’t find anything.

This is the first question. Then, you spoke about the gay lobby. So much is written about the gay lobby. I still haven’t found anyone with an identity card in the Vatican with “gay” on it. They say there are some there. I believe that when you are dealing with such a person, you must distinguish between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of someone forming a lobby, because not all lobbies are good. This one is bad. If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this in a beautiful way, saying … wait a moment, how does it say it … it says: “no one should marginalize these people for this, they must be integrated into society”. The problem is not having this inclination, no, we must be brothers and sisters to one another, and there is this one and there is that one. The problem is in making a lobby of this inclination: a lobby of misers, a lobby of politicians, a lobby of masons, so many lobbies. For me, this is the greater problem. Thank you so much for asking this question. Many thanks.(Source).

My first impression from this reading the entire statement is surprise at the amount of time the Pope spends talking about sin,  conversion, confession and forgiveness before tackling the question of the “gay lobby.” He is actually getting at something here, and let’s slow down and look at it in greater detail.

He says: “many times in the Church, over and above this case, but including this case, people search for ‘sins from youth,’ for example, and then publish them. . . Crimes are something different: the abuse of minors is a crime. No, sins. But if a person, whether it be a lay person, a priest or a religious sister, commits a sin and then converts, the Lord forgives, (emphasis mine).” By “this case,” he means Msgr. Ricca’s case, and he’s referring, without question to his homosexual sins; the logical conclusion is that Francis clearly thinks homosexual behavior a sin. This, needless to say, has been consistently overlooked by the secular press, and therefore, not even known to most Catholics.

But more than that, Francis wants to teach something; that bringing up a person’s past sins is wrong. He also applies it to Christians. God forgets our past sins, so we should not be bringing them up, because if we condemn others, God will not forgive our sins. This, in fact, is the primary meaning of Christ’s warning, “Do not judge, lest you be judged” (Mt. 7:1)

The second thing that stood out for me is what Francis means when he says “if someone is gay.” (He did use the English word “gay”). Francis’ critics often give as their definition of gay “a person who is an active homosexual engaging in sinful behavior” and suppose the Pope understands it the same way, and that “who am I to judge” means “I don’t consider active homosexuals sinful.” I’m convinced this is the major sticking point for people, that they can’t get over. But what Francis says makes it clear his understanding is different. “The problem is not having this inclination, no, we must be brothers and sisters to one another, and this is one thing, but if there is  something else [it's] another thing. The problem is in making a lobby of this inclination.”

Francis is talking here about not judging people with same-sex attraction; he is not necessarily talking about a same-sex attracted person who rejects the Church’s teaching to lead a sinful life. And given what he says in the first paragraph of his answer, it is clear that Francis meant his “who am I to judge” to be understood in the traditional Christian sense, and not the secular sense of “don’t be judgmental, don’t force your religious ideas on others; people should do what’s right for them, etc.”

The contrast he sets up is between people, who should always be treated with dignity, and the gay activist agenda (which is what he was really talking about with the term “lobby”). He wants gay people to be treated with respect and dignity as people — but he also says the gay activist agenda (gay lobby) is not a good thing.

You can bet that the secular media did not get that out of his words, but that is what is there. If Catholics as a whole had possessed the good sense to read and properly understood these words five years ago, we could have done a great deal to resolve this fatal misunderstanding. Now I hope there will be no more excuse for anyone.

As for translation issues, there was nothing major. I made a couple of small corrections. For instance the “gay lobby” was said in the Vatican’s English  translation to be “not good,” where the Italian said cattivo (bad, wicked). The word tendenza (tendency), I think could better be translated “inclination,” as that’s the word we would use in English.

The Perils of Pope Francis II: The Rabbit Test

rabbitIt’s been a while, but I have finally found time to go back to my series about the controversial statements of Pope Francis. I’m going to call this one The Rabbit Test.

As you can probably tell, this has to do with of of Francis’ more famous interviews, which revolved around the soundbite “Catholics shouldn’t be like rabbits.” This was on his famous plane interview on his return from the Philippines in 2015. Many Catholics were up-in-arms about this, since they considered it an insult to large Catholic families. Many also thought he had said that three is the “ideal number” of children Catholics should have — another insult to large families! Clearly for them Pope Francis was not on board with Catholic teaching about family life.

This interview, I think, is a particularly good test of the supreme importance of Rule no. 3: Context, context, context. The context is supplied by the nature of both the question the Pope was asked and the questioner, which are very important here.

Let’s start with reading the whole question and answer. The Vatican transcription and translation of the entire interview are here.

The question was asked by a German journalist, Christoph Schmidt:

You spoke of the great numbers of children in the Philippines, and about how happy you were that there are so many children. But according to several polls, the majority of Filipinos think that the enormous growth of the Filipino population is one of the most important reasons for the immense poverty in the country. In the Philippines, on average, one woman gives birth to more than three children in her lifetime, and the Catholic position regarding contraception appears to be one of the few questions on which a great number of people in the Philippines do not agree with the Church. What are your thoughts on that?

Pope Francis answered:

I believe that the number of three per family, which you mentioned, is important, according to the experts, for maintaining the population. Three per couple. When it is below this level, you have the other extreme, as for example in Italy, where I have heard — I don’t know if it is true — that in 2024 there will be no money left to pay pensioners. Population decrease. That is why the key phrase for responding is one which the Church constantly uses, as I do: it is “responsible parenthood”. How does this work? With dialogue. Each person with his or her pastor has to try to exercise this responsible parenthood. The example I mentioned just now, about the woman who was expecting her eighth child and already had seven caesarean births: this is a form of irresponsibility. [Some might say:] “No, I trust in God”. “But, look, God gives you the means, be responsible”.

Some people believe that — pardon my language — in order to be good Catholics, we should be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood. This is clear and it is the reason why in the Church there are marriage groups, there are experts in this area, there are pastors, and people are trying. And I know of any number of solutions which are licit and have helped for this. You did well to ask me this. Something else is curious, which does not have to do with this directly, but is in fact related. For very poor people, a child is a treasure. True enough, here too one needs to be prudent. But for them a child is a treasure. God knows how to help them. Maybe some are not prudent in this area, that is true. Responsible parenthood. But we also need to consider the generosity of those fathers and mothers who see in every child a treasure. (Source)

First, we should note who the questioner was and what was being asked. A German journalist, with an undoubtedly secular attitude, asks in no uncertain terms why Catholics insist on having so many children, contributing to the population explosion in the Philippines. He apparently thought that even three children are too many for a couple to have. He clearly had a hostile attitude toward the Church in general and its teaching on contraception in particular. Pope Francis needs to counter this attitude and correct the misunderstanding. That is the context. And it is exactly what he proceeds to do.

To begin with, the Pope counters his questioner’s assertion about more than three children being too many. He simply points out that three is the minimum number needed to maintain the population. He clearly is not saying that three is the idea number of children for a Catholic couple to have. Careful reading in context makes a world of difference. I recall one lady in Mark Shea’s combox who was ranting at length about the Pope’s disdain for more than three children. I linked to the complete text and begged her to read it, and — a miracle almost unheard of in comboxes — she changed her mind! She even copied my link and shared it with others.

The next thing to notice is that the Pope is careful to explain what “responsible parenthood” is. His example of a woman who had actually undergone seven Caesarean sections offended a number of Catholics with large families, for some reason. He is obviously not criticizing all large families, nor saying that it is “irresponsible to have eight children” as LifeSite claimed, but commenting on the need to be prudent when a woman has medical difficulties.

But the thing that caused the most chatter was the “rabbits” remark. Now notice how this fits in the context. The journalist has essentially thrown this “Catholics are like rabbits” slur at the Pope without actually using the words. And the Pope’s introduction? “Some people believe that — pardon my language — in order to be good Catholics, we should be like rabbits.” Who are the “some people”? Who usually uses this kind of language? Catholics? No, anti-Catholics. The Pope even begs pardon of his Catholic audience for the remark, because he knows it’s offensive to Catholics. And he makes it clear to the secular audience that he knows that they make this kind of remark. He then goes on to refute it by showing instead that Catholics believe in responsible parenthood and that thee are legitimate ways to limit the number of children you have. He also goes on to praise those who might be imprudent in some people’s eyes, but are still generous in having large families. All in all, a masterful defense of Catholic teaching. What exactly is LifeSite News complaining about again? And why? Well, the “why will have to wait to another time.