Wednesday, September 30, 2015

New Evangelizers Post: The Pope and Practical Politics

I have a new article up at  

It is no secret that we live in very politically polarized times.  And perhaps you are like me in that not only am I devoutly Catholic, but I also have very strong political convictions.

But as Catholics, what do we do when we find our political convictions challenged by our Holy Father?  Do we abandon our politics for our faith?  Or do we ignore our faith for our politics?  Or is there some other way out of this dilemma?

Pope Francis has recently visited the United States.  And no matter what he says, his words are analyzed in the media through the lens of politics.  That is not to say that the Pope does not make political statements.  It is only to highlight that we must be careful about what secondary sources tell us about this Pope, as he is one of the most often misunderstood and misquoted in my recollection.

Regardless, Francis says many things that raise the ire of the political right and the political left.  How are we to respond?

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

It must be remembered that the pope only speaks infallibly on the topic of faith and morals.  And even on these topics, infallibility only applies when he specifically and officially invokes that power.  If the pope secretly confided to someone that he didn’t believe the Resurrection was real, this would not violate papal infallibility.  If the pope declared that 2 + 2 = 5, this would also not be infallible because that is a matter of mathematics, not faith or morals.
Politics, while often dealing with topics of religion and morality, is not covered by infallibility per se.  It is possible for the pope to be wrong on political policy.  Pope Pius the XI entered into a concordant with the European fascists, which he later regretted.  So when a sitting pope makes statements of a political nature, those political points are not backed by infallibility.

But be careful here!

At this point, many would use this as an opportunity to simply dismiss the pope whenever he challenges their politics.  “Well, he’s talking about politics so it isn’t infallible.  Now I don’t have to listen.”

That is, to my mind, the absolutely incorrect attitude.

You can read the entire article here.

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