More FrankenPope zingers from a new aerial press conference

[More FrankenPope zingers from a new aerial press conference]

By Joshua J. McElwee for the National un-Catholic Reporter ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE FROM MEXICO on 2/18/16

1. Another off-the-cuff ex-cathedra statement:

Francis signals opening on contraceptives in deadly Zika cases

In a press conference aboard the papal flight to Rome from Mexico, the pontiff was asked if the grave nature of the virus — which is linked to serious birth defects and is spreading quickly — might make abortion a “lesser evil” for a mother faced with the choice of having a malformed child.

The pope firmly rejected the use of abortion, but said that avoiding pregnancy through contraception is not always evil.


2. A non-endorsement for an American presidential candidate:

Pope Francis questions Donald Trump’s Christianity, says border wall not from Gospel

Pope Francis was asked in the press conference aboard the papal plane for his reaction to Donald Trump’s proposal of a border wall, and what he might say to U.S. Catholics supporting Trump. The pope said he was “not going to get involved” in giving advice about voting.

“I’ll only say that this man is not Christian if he says this,” said the pontiff.


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16 comments on “More FrankenPope zingers from a new aerial press conference

  1. It would be nice if he were just and called Barack Obama not a Christian and also Joe Biden a Catholic in mortal sin. His statements on injustice seem to go only against the right.

  2. He is becoming an embarrassment to authentic Catholicism.

  3. The border controversy is a national security and political issue rather than a theological or biblical one and, therefore, comes under reason, natural law, self-defense, and common sense.
    Every medieval town, castle, and city had protective security walls to prevent against invasion and Viking raids. The Vatican has walls and locked iron gates. The Pope should not have played politics with this issue.

    His alleged statements on birth control will be seized upon by the media, secular liberals, and progressive modernists, to attack Catholic teaching. He made no distinction or clarification between condoms and abortifacient contraceptive pills. This leaves a mess for Father Lombardi, neo-Catholic journalists, theologians, Catholic educators, and the EWTN crowd, with yet another “clarification” of what the Pope really meant to say.

  4. Pope Francis ” Tear Down that Vatican Wall ” ! We know your not Catholic but unless that wall comes down you are not even a Christian !

  5. Inquiring minds are asking for clarification:
    The damage done—again—by the Pope’s interview

    By Phil Lawler

    • [Nonetheless, Phil’s colleague at Catholic Culture, Dr. Jeff, spins FrankenPope’s reply]

      Responding to the papal interview as if truth matters

      By Dr. Jeff Mirus | Feb 19, 2016 |

      I don’t want to belabor the point; Phil’s commentary on the latest papal interview is outstanding as it stands. We may wish at some point to further discuss the Pope’s incautious moral characterization of Donald Trump. But I believe it will be more immediately useful to review the reproductive principles Pope Francis so unfortunately muddled during his February 18th flight from Mexico to Rome.

      If you were to plow through the entire interview, you would see the same difficulty everywhere—this constant difficulty that Pope Francis has in speaking clearly and precisely off-the-cuff in response to any question.

      This is the simple human problem that lies behind Phil’s recommendation that this pope should not give interviews. It is important to understand that Pope Francis simply does not possess this gift. The corollary is a recognition that such confusing comments do not represent the Pope’s carefully-considered intention, but simply an inability to express his final thoughts clearly on the spur of the moment. We have seen this again and again: Pope Francis will initially express a number of half-developed thoughts, but if he writes officially on the same subject later, his words will be neat, orderly, and on point.

      To put the matter succinctly: The wise observer takes Pope Francis’ interviews with a large grain of salt. This is unfortunate; as Phil recommends, it really would be better if Francis simply did not give interviews. But there it is. We must cease immediately from predicting (or fearing) future sea changes based on such remarks. It is far smarter to realize that this spur-of-the-moment fare is not going to be all that it should be—nor even all that Pope Francis himself would like it to be in the end.

      Parsing the question properly

      The way the question was asked led Pope Francis to emphasize an important difference between abortion and contraception. The questioner alluded to both, and the Pope clearly wanted to insist that direct abortion can never be justified, whereas in fact the use of (non-abortifacient) contraceptives is sometimes justifiable. The main problem is that Francis used both bizarre terminology and unhelpful categories in attempting to convey that point.

      In particular, he referred to abortion as an “absolute evil”, he called abortion a “human” (as opposed to a “religious”) evil, and he contrasted it not with contraception but with “avoiding pregnancy”. We can easily overcome the confusion of the term “absolute evil”. It seems certain that Francis meant “intrinsic evil”, which at least makes that part of the answer intelligible. Even with this linguistic correction, however, his method of comparing the two sins led to immediate misunderstanding. Since the original question referred to abortion and contraception, the implications of the answer were:

      Contraception and avoiding pregnancy are morally equivalent.
      Contraception is a religious evil (like missing Mass rather than a violation of the natural law)
      Contraception is not intrinsically evil.

      Now the absurdity of the first point is so clear that we must presume these implications are not what Pope Francis intended to convey. In fact, the first two implications are obviously false, and so we may presume that the Pope was mainly concerned to differentiate abortion, which is intrinsically evil, from contraception, which is not. For only the third implication is true. And only this implication is consistent with his obvious goal, which was to dispel from the mind of the questioner the notion that direct abortion could ever be considered morally acceptable as the lesser of two evils.

      But, you may object, how can I assert that contraception is not intrinsically evil? Well, because it isn’t; if it were, Pope Paul VI could not have permitted endangered nuns to use contraceptives to prevent conception resulting from rape. It would, after all, be an actual good, in these circumstances, for a rapist himself to use contraception to avoid impregnating his victim. We would never tell him he compounded his sin by doing so. Moreover, it is generally moral for a belatedly fearful woman to take actions to prevent conception following any immoral instance of sexual intercourse.

      But it is intrinsically evil to eliminate the natural consequence of any act of intercourse whatsoever by aborting the baby once conceived. In short, the nuns could contracept; but they could never abort.

      Moral precision

      With respect to the question of contraception, what is intrinsically immoral is the deliberate frustration of the procreative end of marital sexual intercourse. (It is also, of course, intrinsically immoral to deliberately frustrate the unitive end of sexual intercourse within marriage, such as a husband demanding intercourse when his wife is ill, forcing her into too-frequent sexual relations, treating her shabbily and then expecting sexual satisfaction, and so on—or for a wife to use sexual favors to manipulate her husband.)

      Outside of marriage, contraception ceases to be intrinsically evil, and so it must be determined to be evil or not based on intentions, purposes and results. Sexual intercourse is always immoral outside of marriage (because of marriage’s natural human character, by the way, not its sacramental or religious character). For this reason, there are no moral ends or finalities for intercourse outside of marriage which can be frustrated (or which, by being fulfilled, can justify it). So why do we typically judge the use of contraception to be evil in acts of fornication and adultery? There are three main reasons:

      Contraception represents a pre-meditated commitment to enjoy evil actions more easily and completely by eliminating their natural consequences;
      The availability, and certainly the encouragement, of contraception encourages fornication, adultery and promiscuity; and
      The use of contraception tends to diminish our understanding of and commitment to the true purposes of sexual intercourse, and also the nature and importance of the family itself.

      It is worth noting as well that the overall damage of widespread contraception to social and public health will invariably be worse than any particular damage that might occasionally be avoided through its use.


      Once again, we can probably see what the Pope would have liked to accomplish in his response. Based on the way the question was phrased, he wanted to make sure everyone understood that direct abortion can never be morally justified. Abortion is different in this respect from contraception, which in rare circumstances can be morally justified (as Francis noted in the case handled by Paul VI).

      But instead, as this Pope so often does in extemporaneous remarks, he raised more questions than he answered, in particular two questions which it was exceedingly unfortunate to raise: First, might the Church approve widespread use of contraceptives for health reasons? Second, might the Church now decide that the deliberate frustration of the procreative end of individual marital acts is moral in some cases?

      Truthfully, these are old questions! With respect to health, the question has already been asked and answered repeatedly with in relation to sexually-transmitted diseases, including HIV-AIDS. What is new this time is the (unproven) assumption that the most significant danger of the Zika virus is the deformation of the child who might be conceived. Yet dangers to the fetus from conception under adverse circumstances are hardly new. The Church has repeatedly judged programmatic promotion of contraception to be immoral, not least because it always undermines its own allegedly moral ends. And of course the Church has already infallibly declared intentional contraception within marriage to be intrinsically immoral.

      For some mysterious reason, Pope Francis emphasized that avoiding pregnancy is not always immoral (a misconception unlikely to be held by any present). In any case, we already know that where there is good reason to avoid pregnancy, the couple has two options: (1) Choose to engage in intercourse only at times when the likelihood of conception is low; or (2) Choose not to engage in intercourse at all, if the risk/reason is very grave. For this too is an act of mutual love.

      One grows weary of explaining and explaining and explaining. Self-mastery, particularly sexual mastery, is essential not only to objective morality but to human integrity and maturity. To paraphrase Phil Lawler’s judgment on the latest interview: It is clear that few people understand the Church’s teaching on contraception; sadly—very sadly yet again—it is not hard to see why.

  6. [Another FrankenPope zinger from the aerial press conference]

    Q: Holy Father, my question is about the family, a subject which you addressed often during this trip. The Italian parliament is discussing a law on civil unions, a subject that is provoking strong political clashes but also a strong debate in society and among Catholics. In particular, I would like to know your thoughts on the subject of adoption by civil unions and therefore on the rights of children and of sons and daughters in general.

    A: First of all, I don’t know how things stand in the thinking of the Italian parliament. The Pope doesn’t get mixed up in Italian politics. At the first meeting I had with the (Italian) bishops in May 2013, one of the three things I said was: with the Italian government you’re on your own. Because the pope is for everybody and he can’t insert himself in the specific internal politics of a country. This is not the role of the pope, right? And what I think is what the Church thinks and has said so often – because this is not the first country to have this experience, there are so many – I think what the Church has always said about this.

    [Nonetheless, he does “get mixed up in [American] politics” and “insert himself in [our] specific internal politics” by his comments in Mexico concerning immigration and and on the plane about Donald Trump]

  7. [The neo-Catholic spin begins]

    WDTPRS’ Fr. Z: The Roman Pontiff doesn’t teach doctrine on faith and morals through off-hand comments to journalists ON AN AIRPLANE RIDE! So, relax about the contraception comment. It was meaningless. [I guess WDTPRS now means “What did the Pope really say”]

    The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue: The pope was set up. [What a set-up!]

    [See Louie “akaCatholic” Verrecchio’s comments below]

    • Spinning the latest papal protestant moment

      [He had NFP – not the Pill – in mind!?]

      Louie February 19, 2016

      Our friends at the Bergoglio News Agency, otherwise known as Catholic News Agency, have already set about spinning the latest papal protestant moment.

      As you’ve no doubt already heard, during the in-flight presser from Mexico to Rome today, His Humbleness was asked by a reporter with respect to the Zika virus:

      Some authorities have proposed abortion, or else avoiding pregnancy. As regards avoiding pregnancy, on this issue, can the Church take into consideration the concept of “the lesser of two evils?”

      To which Francis first responded by saying firmly that abortion is not the “lesser of two evils;” it is a “crime.”

      [I’ll wait for the neo-conservative applause to die down…]

      Moving on to contraception, Francis went on to say:

      Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape.

      Before we talk about the elephant in the room, let’s take a timeout:

      Back in 2003, EWTN posted the following Q&A on their website:

      Q: I read that the Vatican had approved the use of contraceptives for nuns in Africa. Does that mean that contraception is OK for nuns?

      A: No. This is a long-standing rumor–supposedly it occurred in the early sixties before Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae–but I have never been able to verify it. The rumor has it that the nuns were in serious danger of being raped and the contraception was to prevent them from conceiving a child through rape. (Answer by Fr. Richard Hogan)

      As far as I have been able to determine, the story seems to have originated in Civiltà Cattolica – a Jesuit publication, in 1993. This is the earliest reference to it that I’ve been able to find (and it’s from a secondary source).

      In any case, it appears that there’s a chance that this story about nuns contracepting with Pope Paul the Pathetic’s blessing may be nothing more than a rumor.

      More importantly:

      Let’s assume that the story is verifiable, just for the sake of discussion. What then? That’s just one more reason to put a halt to the Montini canonization (Conciliar Lifetime Achievement Award) cause.

      In other words, even if Paul VI personally hand delivered contraception to a bunch of nuns and ordered them to partake, Catholic doctrine on the matter remains unchanged.

      Be that as it may, Francis went on to say:

      Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, or in the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.

      It was clear? Really?

      How on earth will the Francis Fan Club ever spin this one in order to make His Humbleness appear Catholic, you’re wondering?

      Simple; they’ll stick their fingers in their ears go into full blown denial!

      Leaders in the field that they are, the CNA article states:

      Numerous news outlets suggested that the Pope was introducing a change – or at least a softening – in previous teaching.

      However, Dr. Melissa Moschella, a philosophy professor at The Catholic University of America, suggested that this may not be the case.

      When talking about avoiding pregnancy in connection with the Zika virus, the Pope may not necessarily have been implying artificial contraceptive use, but may have been referencing Natural Family Planning, she said.

      So let me make sure I got this straight…

      Some nuns in Africa were in danger of being raped, so Paul VI allowed them to use Natural Family Planning?

      Yes, yes… that must have been it. I can see how well that would have worked for the sisters:

      Forgive me, Mr. Sexual Predator, but I’m not available until Thursday the 15th. I can see you immediately after vespers.

      No, silly. It’s actually even more contrived than that.

      CNA went on to provide more detail saying:

      The case in question took place in the early 1960s, when the Vatican granted a dispensation to religious sisters living in the Belgian Congo who were in grave danger of rape due to civil unrest to use oral contraceptives.

      Now about that elephant in the room…

      If these poor nuns were that sure they were in danger of being raped, wouldn’t it have made sense to get them the hell out of there, or perhaps build a wall around their convent? (Oh, yea… Christians don’t do walls… never mind.)

      Moschella then took on the role of moral theologian claiming that contraception is not immoral if used as “part of an act of self-defense, as the women seek to resist the act altogether.”

      Don’t laugh; I think she’s serious.

      Moschella also explained that in the Africa case referenced by Pope Francis, the dispensation for the nuns was ‘not really an exception if you understand the rule.’

      Oh, so contraception has always been morally acceptable in the eyes of the Church provided there is sufficient fear of a potential rape!

      Didn’t Francis say carnival time is over? Well, apparently not.

      As it concerns the Zika virus and the use of contraception, Moschella did manage to muster up the gumption to say:

      In cases of Zika virus, you’re talking about women who are voluntarily engaging in sexual relations and then using contraceptives to prevent those voluntary sexual acts from being fertile. And that does contradict the meaning of the sexual act, and so involves a kind of lack of integrity that’s harmful to the person and harmful to the relationship.

      And this, my friends, is why it is so important for the neo-conservative Catholic media to pretend that Francis had Natural Family Planning in mind (setting aside for the present discussion the problems with it) when he cited the alleged precedent of Paul VI whom they claim gave a dispensation for the use of oral contraceptives to nuns who didn’t really need any special permission at all since that sort of thing has always been OK with the Church in cases of self-defense from a rape that hasn’t yet occurred.

      There now. That makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

      • [So much for CNA/EWTN/Catholic U. philosophy Prof. Melissa Moschella’s spin that FrankenPope was talking about NFP]

        BREAKING: Vatican affirms Pope was speaking about contraceptives for Zika

        John-Henry Westen

        ROME, February 19, 2016 ( – Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi has affirmed that the Holy Father was indeed speaking of “condoms and contraceptives” when on the flight back from Mexico, Pope Francis said couples could rightly “avoid pregnancy” in the wake of the Zika virus scare.

        Fr. Lombardi told Vatican Radio today, “The contraceptive or condom, in particular cases of emergency or gravity, could be the object of discernment in a serious case of conscience. This is what the Pope said.”

        According to Lombardi, the pope spoke of “the possibility of taking recourse to contraception or condoms in cases of emergency or special situations. He is not saying that this possibility is accepted without discernment, indeed, he said clearly that it can be considered in cases of special urgency.”

        Lombardi reiterated the example that Pope Francis made of Pope Paul VI’s supposed “authorization of the use of the pill for the religious who were at very serious risk” of rape. This, said Lombardi, “makes us understand that it is not that it was a normal situation in which this was taken into account.”

        * * *

        • Thanks, you defender of therapeutic abortion. Now we have the authoritative confirmation of the non-authoritative teaching. In other words, it’s a done deal. Rome has thrown in the towel on birth control.

          I don’t believe for a moment that this wasn’t deliberate. It’s Frankenpope’s MO. Divorced/remarried and Lutherans get communion, all get condoms and pills, according to their needs and conscience.

          Ratzinger deserves some credit here. He kept apostate Lombardi after he defended Abp. Fizzy over the Brazil abortion. Benedict did an “airplane” interview addressing the potential “charity” of a perv prostitute using prophylactics.

          It’s a sell-out, top to bottom.

  8. Bring me your rejected, your outcast, your deleted and blocked…

    FEB 19, 2016 by HILARY WHITE @

    I think we’ve all had pretty much enough of the quislings and Vichys and their desperation, don’t you?

    New What’s Up With Francis-Church policy:

    Rejected posts and comments correcting the stupid crap of the papologists – the Akins, the Armstrongs (sorry Dave, I know we’re pals now), the Sheas, the Coffins, the Zeds – may come here and get an airing. Consider me a haven. A safe space, as the kids call it now. If you responded to something idiotic, dangerous, wrong, insane, contradictory, heretical or just plain stupid and got deleted, blocked or otherwise cast out, send me the comment in one of our WUWFC commboxes, together with the thing you’re responding to, and perhaps a link, and we’ll see about making it a post of its own.

    Maybe at the end of the month, your own personal contribution to the Great Papologist Brushoff will be included as an official square in a new WUWFC papologist-excuse bingo card!

    I’ll start.

    Here’s one from Oakes Spalding, the author of Mahound’s Paradise blog, in response to Fr. Zed’s rather desperate assertion that the contraception comment on the plane was “meaningless.”

    Zed scolds: Next, and this is important, I remind everyone that the Roman Pontiff doesn’t teach doctrine on faith and morals through off-hand comments to journalists ON AN AIRPLANE RIDE! So, relax about the contraception comment. It was meaningless.

    Oakes responds: “It’s not meaningless and it’s not funny. Pope Francis is doing great damage to the Church. Indeed, he’s currently doing more damage to the Church than any man now alive.

    Cowardice is still cowardice, Fr. Z, even when it wears a facade of charity. And at a certain point, silence or obfuscation equals collaboration. Please think about this whether you delete this comment or not. God is watching, and His is the only opinion you should care about.”


    Another friend – who actually holds advanced degrees in papal stuff from Pontifical Universities – adds the helpful factual information about how ex-cathedra statements work: “In point of fact, a Pope *could* teach infallibly on an airplane, in a press conference, or anywhere else for that matter. Whether or not a statement is infallible (or Magisterial, for that matter), is determined by the type of statement, not by where it is pronounced.

    “And, as many people have pointed out, the problem with the Pope’s statements is not whether or not they are authoritative or Magisterial (much less infallible). The problem is that he is making confusing statements that are misleading millions of people, and he refuses to correct or clarify those statements.

    And while we’re on this point… the neo-cons for YEARS have been trying to argue, with regard to JP2 and B16, that Papal Teaching is incredibly important — meaningful, if you will — even if it is not ex cathedra. Now anything shy of an infallible definition is ‘meaningless?’

    This is not how the papacy works.

    Yes, we must discern different kinds of papal statements, and distinguish various levels of authoritative teaching. But the Pope, precisely because he is the Visible Head of the Church on earth, because he is the supreme teacher of the faithful, charged with ‘feeding the sheep,’ has a duty in prudence and charity to speak the truth, and preach the Gospel in a way that will lead the faithful to Christ, and will not lead them astray.”


    New Papologist Bingo Square: “He doesn’t make ex-cathedra statements from airplane interviews, you stupid, scaremongering Trad!”

    [All bingo squares are going to be understood to include the sufffix, which from now on, we will probably abbreviate to “yssmt”.]

  9. Anyone know what happened to Father Z’s blog? He had a post up questioning the story about Paul VI and the Belgian nuns in the Congo, served up by Pope Francis in his rambling plane interview, and now the whole blog has disappeared. Did the Illuminati strike again?

    • The title of the blog was changed but not the url as in this msg: “Formerly entitled: “What Does The Prayer Really Say?” – Clear, straight commentary on Catholic issues, liturgy and life by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf o{]:¬)

      • “Clear, straight commentary on Catholic issues, liturgy and life by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf”

        By “life” does he mean “vita bona (the good life)”?

        Many of his posts are (or include) slideshows of his frequent travels and sumptuous meals.

        I opine that the Reverend Father Z is an aesthete.

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