Pope Francis, Donald Trump, Nuns Using Contractives, Zika Virus and more on the Pope’s Comments to the Press

by Steve Ray on February 18, 2016

Seven quick thoughts on the most recent papal presser

by Dr. Edward Peters

Frankly, I don’t know how he does it. When I fly to Europe I have to sleep all the way over.  Not Pope Francis. Anyway, may I offer some comments on some topics mentioned in the latest mid-air papal presser?

1. Pope Paul VI, as I understand it, did approve of religious women threatened by rape using contraceptives. It is obvious, though, that such measures were taken in self-defense against criminal acts and, more importantly, would have occurred outside the context of conjugal relations. Avoiding pregnancy under outlaw circumstances is not only ‘not an absolute evil’, it’s not an evil act at all. I hope that mentioning this unusual episode in a press chat will not contribute unduly to the world’s misunderstanding of the limitations of Paul VI’s position in this case and of the episode’s non-applicability to Church firm teaching on contraception within marriage.

2. An individual becomes “Christian” by, and only by, (valid) baptism. Donald Trump was apparently baptized Presbyterian, which faith community has valid baptism. Donald Trump is, therefore, as a matter of canon law (c. 204), Christian. Trump might be a good Christian or a bad one—I cannot say, and neither can anyone else. Trump might do and say things consistent with Christian values or in contradiction to them, but his status as baptized, and therefore as Christian, is beyond dispute.

3. There is no legitimate “principle” by which a “lesser of two evils” may ever be licitly engaged in. It is fundamental moral theology that even a small evil action may never be licitly engaged in—no matter how much good might seem to result therefrom and no matter how much evil might seem to be avoided thereby. There are, to be sure, principles by which a good or neutral action that has two effects, one good and one evil, might be licitly engaged in under certain circumstances despite the evil effects; and there are principles by which “lesser evils” may be tolerated (not chosen). But parsing these matters accurately and responsibly requires more time than can be devoted to them in a press conference.

4. Abortion (assuming we are talking about doing an action intended to kill a human being prior to birth, and not just suffering ‘abortion’, i.e., miscarriage) is, Francis observed, always evil. Abortion is not, however, “evil” because it is a “crime”. Not all criminal acts are by nature evil and not all evil acts are crimes. Other factors must be considered lest moral principles and legal principles become confused.

5. The Vatican City State, a sovereign nation, has the right to build, and has chosen to surround itself with, a giant wall. Evidently, building or using a national wall is not a non-Christian act nor a stance contrary to Gospel values. The pope’s criticism of building walls on part of a national border is probably better understood as prudential in nature, not principled.

6. It is important (though some might say it is too late) to distinguish between a Catholic’s stance toward “same-sex unions” and that toward “same-sex marriage”. These are not equivalent terms. Legal recognition of “same-sex unions” might be a good idea, a tolerable idea, or a bad idea, but, per se, “same-sex unions” are things over which reasonable minds (including Catholic minds) may differ; in contrast, Catholics may never approve or support “same-sex marriage”, this, upon pain of contradicting infallible Church teaching, if not of committing heresy.

7. The pope said nothing suggesting confusion about “celibacy” and “continence” (c. 277), although the Crux reporter seems to regard the former as another word for the latter. Anyway, I do not know whether there is such a thing as a (priest) who does not have the “friendship of a woman”, but I would not think the “friendship of a woman” is necessary to make a man ‘complete’.

Phil Lawler’s comments on The Damage Again caused by the Pope’s Interview 

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Francisco Trevino February 18, 2016 at 8:21 PM

Seriously Steve, I understand your position as a Conservative and a fundamentalist Catholic, I’m myself in a sense a little bit like that too, but to justify Trump’s comments over the opinion of the Pope, that’s just unbelievable. How can one call himself a Christian if hate pours from ones comments, knowing that Jesus said love one another, love thy Neighbor, and people would know you are my diciples. Seriously saying that Mexico sends rapists? sends?? As if Mexico was an enemy, being one of the biggest trading partners of America? Years ago I was fortunate to be invited to come as an specialist and help an American company to be more efficient on its production, and they couldn’t find a similar candidate here. I migrated as many other people in similar situations, but feeling this amount of hate towards Mexico makes me want to go back, the only part where I had always feel welcomed was the Catholic Church, now I sadly see how some part of it is attracted by the hate speech of this Narcissist. I’m not saying I like democrats but I don’t like politics in general.

STEVE RAY HERE: Franciso, I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you really did not read the article I posted because if you did there is no ground for what you are saying above. The Seven Points was not written by me but by Ed Peters who is a renowned Catholic Canon Lawyer who is an advisor to the Vatican.

What the Pope said on a number of things to reporters are problematic and ill advised. But I did not criticize him when I posted Peters’ comments. I think you need to re-read the article and see what it really says.

Tom Govern February 18, 2016 at 10:47 PM

I think that the Pope should have said that Mr. Trump is not acting in a “Christian way” by some of his positions. I really believe that is what he is saying, and I agree with some. To bad that he does not take a bit more time in saying things. I think that he should also say that Obama, Pelosi, Biden and anyone else advocating or funding abortion is not acting like a Christian.

STEVE RAY HERE: Well said Tom!

Salvadpr Morote February 19, 2016 at 12:54 AM

Really Steve? You have basically attacked the Pope, the Vicar of Christ, to defend Trump… while instigating people agsinst him.. to serve your self-centeted need for what? Perhaps natcissism? And you call yourself “defender of the Catholic Faith? Shame on you!

STEVE RaAY HERE: Like I said above Salvador, I did not write the post. It was written by a Canon Lawyer named Ed Peters who is an advisor to the Vatican and like me is a great supporter of the Papacy.

You obviously did not read the article or you are an unclear thinker because what you accuse me of above is not only incorrect but ridiculous. Read the actual seven points I posted, think about what is said and then apologize.

Peter February 19, 2016 at 6:15 AM

One would like to suggest to the Supreme Pontiff that there is nothing inherently evil about sagacious silence and, perhaps, resisting the urge to talk into microphone with unscripted remarks might be a very, very good thing for him to do.

Francis February 19, 2016 at 12:33 PM

(I know that you didn’t write the article, Steve) …
More Christian than Christ? Pope Francis was talking about someone who “thinks ONLY about building walls … AND not building bridges.” No one is saying that it’s building a wall ALONE (“sola”) which makes it unchristian. But when one incite hate by marginalizing all illegal immigrants as hardcore criminals and threatening to separate families by wholesale deportation, it is very contrary to the core of Christian ethics as based on the Sermon on the Mount of compassion, justice, truth, and mercy.

STEVE RAY HERE: I am surprised by some of the reaction to Ed Peters’ Seven Points. There is nothing in my comments anywhere, or his here that promote or justify Trump. There are many good things about all the candidates and other things less than admirable. I have not endorsed or promoted any of them yet.

That said, Trump does NOT talk only about building walls. He talks about building walls with a big door for legal immigration which is exactly what the Vatican has and what we need too (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QeOSWm8WYk&app=desktop). It sounds like people listen to news soundbytes without really listening to what the candidates are really saying. I think you also exaggerate greatly your summary of Trump’s comments. YOu and I need to practice the Beatitudes but a country has the obligation to protect its borders and citizens so that we CAN practice the beatitudes.

Francis February 19, 2016 at 2:20 PM

Don’t know how I “exaggerate greatly” (I follow all GOP debates and townhall meetings, candidates’ statements closely). We are not talking about legal immigrants from henceforth but those already in the country who are hardworking and law abiding, and many are just taking up jobs which Americans do not want to do (like working the fields, changing soiled diapers for the elderly, dishwashers at restaurants). Some of the children are natural-born Americans (archor babies, if you like). Yes, we can build a “wall” but Catholic social teachings also require that we practise the beatitudes where we find the needy people, just like how God shows mercy to all as He finds them. BTW, this is not only a one-way street. The other GOP candidates indicate degrees of compassion, moderation and reasonableness. We don’t have to burn all the bridges while building a wall at the southern border. We can agree to disagree, Steve.

STEVE RAY HERE: My comment on exaggeration was making Trump sound worse than what he is actually saying. I agree that we help people, but I also have strong feelings about laws and doing things legally, and that includes coming into our country. There are legal mechanisms and they should be followed, especially now in these dangerous times. I don’t think we disagree, we just emphasize things differently maybe. Anyway, Love you brother and thanks for caring, sharing and being engaged.

Ali williams February 19, 2016 at 11:48 PM

You’re wrong on your point 2 on trump. Whether or not you want to point to yourself or the actual author of 7 points the fact is you post stuff like this on here in this kind of nature, much of the time. You do have to honestly ask yourself if you’re just kind of hiding behind this ed peters to take some of the heat off yourself?
None the less to the author’s point 2 on trump they are not referencing correctly what pope Francis said about being Christian. If you took the time to read jimmy Akins “9 things to know” you could get an idea of how to properly get the quote from the pope and thus….here it comes….properly interpret the popes statement about trump.

The point as outlined above from Steve and ed peters is a strong echo to all the conservative habaloo you get on faux and drudge. Steve’s a well known closet conservative. Lastly everyone has to wonder why Steve is so silent on social justice with his apologetics??? Answer, because it will sound a lot like any of the hardlined conservative junk that is out there and nothing close to the sound Catholic doctrine Holy Mother Church teaches.


STEVE RAY HERE: I’m not hiding behind anyone. I post news, my comments, others comments, etc. Yes, I agree with Ed Peters. Seems like I’m not the only one since Ignatius Press posted his comments among many other solid conservative Catholics. I understand what the Pope said. I read it carefully. It was another one of those times when the Pope gets on a plane, says too much and leaves everyone else to try to explain and defend the Pope and the Catholic teaching. His comments on contraceptives was even a bigger issue on the plane than the Trump issue.

Your second paragraph above is nothing but nonsense. I am allowing your comment despite your snarky attitude. I am a conservative Catholic and a conservative pro-life, limited government conservative American. I am Catholic first, American second. BUT I don’t accept YOU as a judge of what it means to be a good Catholic.

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