In my blog of December 22, 2013, I wrote, “If Pope Francis were asked the same questions [about sin], how would his answer have differed from that of Phil Robertson?”
That question became more interesting just two days later when Kathleen Parker criticized Phil Robertson in her Washington Post syndicated column for his “moral certitude” that sodomy is wrong, and she concluded this way: “But fundamentalism, regardless of religion, finds refuge in the toxic swamp of moral certitude.”
By way of background, Drew Magary interviewed Phil Robertson for an article in the January 2014 issue of GQ. About 60 percent through the article, Phil was commenting on the decline of morality in the United States and said, “…the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around. . . Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong. Sin becomes fine.”
Magary: What, in your mind, is sinful?
Robertson: “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
Now, what if Kathleen Parker had asked Pope Francis, in the context of a conversation about the moral decline of the United States, “What, in your mind, is sinful?” To be sure, he would probably have commented on the growing chasm between the rich and poor as he has made clear.
But what if she had pursued and said something like this: “As you have heard, Phil Robertson calls himself a Christian and is certain that sodomy is sinful. Do you share that conviction?”
I suggest that Pope Francis would reply something along this line.
“As you know, in my plane interview last July I distinguished between sexual crimes and sins. I had appointed to a Vatican bank job a priest who was reported to not only have a same-sex orientation but also was strongly suspected of having engaged in such behaviors. Our investigation concluded that he had not engaged in any behaviors that were statutory crimes. I did not say that he had not sinned. In fact, I thought I made it clear that sins are sins. I also made it clear that God forgives repentant sinners, and so must we. Christians ought to have a moral certitude that sodomy is sinful and also that we need to follow God in forgiving those who repent of such sins.”
Imaginary Parker: “So what do you think about my published comment that ‘fundamentalism, regardless of religion, finds refuge in the toxic swamp of moral certitude.’”
Imaginary Pope: “Well, since you asked, I have to say that you need to learn how to distinguish between the time-tested, biblically based teachings of the Catholic Church and the wishful thinking of Western liberal revolutionists. Your term, ‘the toxic swamp of moral certitude’ well describes the Leftist ideas that gave us the absolutism of Socialism, Communism, and a sexual revolution that cannot say ‘no’ to any imaginable behavior between consenting persons, the only qualification being the age of consent. Communism was the liberal effort to root out all the moral certainties of Christianity and create a Leftist version of heaven on earth. The founders of these “isms” were so certain of their rightness that they murdered millions of their own citizens.
“My predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, knew all too well the toxic swamp of the moral certitudes of the Left as he lived through the dictatorships of both National Socialism and Communism. Very recently President Vladimir Putin said that the greatest thing that every happened to Russia was the introduction of Christianity some 1,000 years ago. I suggest that you would do well to wake up and start reading Chesterton who predates both of these toxic swamps.”
If you find it difficult to concentrate while praying the rosary, you might find helpful the little rosary booklet I have compiled. The Seven Day Bible Rosary has a different set of mysteries for each day of the week with a verse before each Hail Mary. See the top of this page.
John Kippley, www.nfpandmore.org