by Christopher A. Ferrara
October 7, 2015
The more alarming the state of affairs in this pontificate becomes, the more determined the "normalists" are to assure everyone that despite the evidence of our senses nothing is really amiss. In keeping with their ideological commitment to a nothing-to-see-here narrative, normalist commentators searched frantically for crumbs of bread in the heaps of stones Pope Francis left behind in Washington, New York and Philadelphia to the world's rapturous applause and the flashing of a sea of smart phone cameras.
When Francis had a brief encounter with Kim Davis at the Vatican embassy in Washington, the normalists thought they had found a whole loaf: See! The Pope stands with Davis against "gay marriage" and for the right of Christians to resist it by civil disobedience. Francis is a courageous defender of traditional marriage and family against militant homosexualism.
The normalists were similarly enthused when, during the in-flight press conference on the way back to Rome, Francis said: "I can't have in mind all cases that can exist about conscience objection. But, yes, I can say the conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right." There! We told you so! Francis is really a fierce culture warrior, despite his false portrayal by the liberal press!
Wrong again, of course. Within two days of the encounter with Davis the Vatican press office denied that it had any significance whatsoever. That master of calculated ambiguity, Father Federico Lombardi, showed why he is head of the Vatican Press Office. After first refusing to confirm or deny that the meeting had even taken place, he issued this run-for-the-tall-grass statement:
The brief meeting between Mrs. Kim Davis and Pope Francis at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, DC has continued to provoke comments and discussion. In order to contribute to an objective understanding of what transpired I am able to clarify the following points:
Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City. Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the Pope's characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.
The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.
Now, to be fair to Mrs. Davis and her lawyer, Matt Staver, and their account of the meeting, it cannot be denied that Francis gave the impression of supporting Davis's refusal to issue licenses for "gay marriages." But that is precisely the point: Francis gave the appearance of support in private while leaving room for his spokesmen to deny it later in public when the predictable outcry came from the "gay community."
And came it did. As "gay activist" Michelangelo Signorile huffed in the Huffington Post: "[T]hat simple encounter completely undermines all the goodwill the pope created in downplaying 'the gay issue' on his U.S. trip….The pope played us for fools, trying to have it both ways... He's an artful politician, telling different audiences what they want to hear on homosexuality."
Signorile, it must be said, has a point. Furthermore, I must agree with him when he says:
I would have more respect for the pope if he had publicly embraced Kim Davis and made an argument for her… I'd have more respect if he boldly, explicitly made a public statement (not the vague, general statement he made on his plane on the way home only in response to a reporter's question about Davis), as he did in trying to stop the execution of a Georgia inmate who was put to death this morning.
A public plea to spare the life of a convicted murderer, but only a hush-hush private meeting with, followed by denials of any support for, a woman who went to jail rather than violate God's law by facilitating the abomination of "gay marriage."
Why the difference? Here is a clue: as Lombardi noted, "the only real audience" Francis gave on the day he met Davis was devoted to "one of his former students and his family." That former student is a "gay" man, and his "family" includes his "gay" boyfriend. In my next column I will discuss this latest Bergoglian scandal, and what it means for the Church, and in particular the Synod of Doom.