(Article changed on September 20, 2013 at 16:46)
A lengthy interview of Pope Francis was published in English in the Jesuit-sponsored magazine
Pope Francis is the first Jesuit to be elected pope. Unlike the Benedictines, the Franciscans, and the Dominicans, the Jesuits have no branch of women religious, just as the Roman Catholic Church has no women priests. In recent decades, women religious around the world have been far more credible witnesses to gospel teachings than have the all-male Catholic bishops and the all-male Catholic priests and the all-male Jesuits.
(Disclosure: Many years ago now, I was in the Jesuits for approximately eight years. However, for many years now, I have not been a practicing Catholic.)
Evidently, Pope Francis was not given the list of questions before the interview. As a result, his responses appear to be extemporaneous. But the Jesuit who conducted the interview did not ask Pope Francis many challenging follow-up questions -- asking him to clarify something obscure that he said or to give examples of what he meant. Why bother to have a face-to-face interview, if the interviewer does not ask any challenging follow-up questions?
For example, in response to the interviewer's question about who he is, Pope Francis first says that he is a sinner. Then upon further reflection, he adds, "Yes, perhaps I can say that I am a bit astute, [and] that I can adapt to circumstances, but it is also true that I am a bit naÃ¯ve." Then he returns to the theme that he is a sinner. OK, at times, he is a bit astute. At times, he can adapt to circumstances. At times, he is a bit naÃ¯ve. And the interviewer asks him no challenging questions aboutthese claims and certain other statements he makes.
However, as I will discuss momentarily, later in the interview, Pope Francis gives us reason to wonder about his statements regarding women. Do he thinks those statements show how he can at times be astute, or how at times he cannot adapt, or at times how he is naÃ¯ve?
THE MAN BITES THE DOG
In the lengthy interview, Pope Francis uses a lot of Catholic mumbo-jumbo, the kind of Catholic mumbo-jumbo that usually appeals to conservative American Catholic theocons who tend toward papalotry.
However, so much of this interview is given over to Jesuit mumbo-jumbo that I would say that this published interview is by far the best Jesuit propaganda in recent decades. Not surprisingly, the pope is thoroughly grounded in Jesuit spirituality. But it remains to be seen if this will help him be an effective pope.
In any event, buried in the pope's vast outpouring of Catholic mumbo-jumbo were a few pointed remarks criticizing the Roman Catholic Church for over-emphasizing its teachings against legalized abortion in the first trimester, artificial contraception, and same-sex marriage.
Pope Francis says, "We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in 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."
Wow! The man bit the dog!
American Catholic theocons are not going to be happy with Pope Francis. As a matter of fact, they might want to organize a recall election to have him removed as pope and have the cardinal-electors re-convene and elect another pope more to their liking.