Keeping moral issues in context

Kudos to The Japan Times for running Michelle Boorstein’s Washington Post piece, “Savvy pope wooing the Catholic middle” (Sept. 21), a reasonably accurate treatment of Pope Francis’ interview printed recently in the Jesuit magazine America.

Boorstein’s well-done commentary stands in contrast to other media reports, which badly misrepresented what the Holy Father actually said about issues such as abortion and homosexuality.

One should go to America’s website and read what Pope Francis actually said — rather than rely on media reports, many of which were shocking in their inaccuracy.

Boorstein’s piece isn’t without error. Pope Francis did not say that “the Catholic Church talks too much about abortion” and other controversial moral issues. He simply said that “when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context.”

That “context,” he told America, is Jesus Christ and His message of salvation. Once a person accepts Christ and the church that Christ established, Pope Francis said, “the moral consequences” — in other words, the church’s solemn and unchangeable moral teachings — “then flow.”

Boorstein seems surprised that on the day after publication of the America interview, Pope Francis made his most forceful anti-abortion comments to date to a gathering of Italian doctors.

That the supreme head of the Catholic Church condemned an act that the church considers intrinsically evil should surprise no one. It only means that the pope really is Catholic, although one might not know it from media coverage of his America interview.

It seems that Pope Francis’ only “strategy”- to borrow a word from Boorstein’s piece — is to bring Christ to others. He did not say the church’s moral teachings should be de-emphasized or abandoned, as many media reports portrayed; he simply reminds us to center them on the mercy and love of Christ.

ken foye
muroran, hokkaido

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

  • Bill

    “Unchangeable moral teachings” ? Really?

    You mean like, when the bible tells you how you should treat your slaves? Or instructs you on when stoning your daughter is acceptable?

    Surely some of the church’s moral teachings are flexible.

    • Darryl McGarry


      I think the Catholic Church might take a different view from the literalist view of The Bible that you interpret. I think the Protestants are responsible for that view. The Catholic Church, being the Church of Christianity, emphasises the teachimgs of Christ. The Old Testament is a good read.

      “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Ἀπόδοτε οὖν τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ.[Matthew 22:21]