An Exchange with Newsday About Pope Francis


Regular readers will recall that I like to document my interactions with the press, especially the mainstream media. I do this to show the discrepancy from what they are told and what they print. We have something of an adventure with this in the Willie Soon affair. Yesterday I received a request for an interview from Bart Jones at Newsday, forwarded by Maureen Mullarkey (whom everybody should read). I requested the questions in writing. Here are his questions and my word-for-word response. If anybody discovers what Newsday actually says, please let us know.

OK. Doing a story on traditional/conservative Catholics reaction to Pope Francis. What is their take on him? What are their main concerns? How do they view his upcoming trip to the U.S.? What is your own take on Francis?


Bart Jones

My response:

Mr Jones,

I can’t speak for others, only myself; everything I say here are my opinions; whether they are the opinions of others too, I have no idea.

The largest concerns are two: (1) self-aggrandizing politicians who will use the Holy Father’s visit to further their secular agendas, in particular to push for larger more intrusive anti-religious-freedom government, and (2) people will mistake the views of the Pope’s advisors for the views of the Pope himself.

As I wrote elsewhere ( ), the Holy Father welcomes debate. He himself said, “There are quarrels and arguments in the Church? Well, it makes good news! This is so since the beginning. A church without quarrels is a dead church. Do you know where there aren’t any quarrels? In cemeteries!”

So I look forward to his arrival here to have a debate on some of the big questions facing the Church. Foremost is the decrease in religious freedom pushed by our government, primarily in the areas of forcing support for abortion and gmarriage. “Gmarriage”, incidentally, stands for “government-defined marriage”, a state which is only coincidentally actual marriage (see ).

As examples, think of how our government tried to mandate (their own word) that the Little Sisters of the Poor provide services for contraception, or how the state of Oregon is actively persecuting Christians and paying for 15-year-olds to receive “sex change” operations without parental knowledge. There is no such as a “sex change” operation, of course: it’s scientific and grammatical folly to use such a term.

How is the increase of secular government related to the breakup of the family? The Holy Father himself said children deserve a mother and a father and are deprived without them ( ). He meant those words in their plain sense, naturally. And not in the increasingly pretend sense they’re coming to mean. We’re already reading that some politicians (I’ll let you guess their party) are trying to rid the language of the words “husband” and “wife”. (See inter alia )

I doubt you’ll hear many politicians eagerly quote from the Holy Father on these matters. Nor will most of them urge the public to read all of his “Laudato Si'”, the so-called environmental encyclical.

It’s here the second concern arises. The Pope has unfortunately had some bad, even lousy, advisors on matters of the environment. One of the chief scientists with ties to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences is a man named Hans Schellnhuber, a die-hard anti-evidence believer in global-warming-of-doom.

I’ve written a lot about Schellnhuber (here and here and here ) and his strange, anti-science views. A quick scan of any of these ought to prove to you that the man’s views are highly suspect.

Yet his fingerprints are on Laudato. For example, the claim that the world’s temperature has been increasing is demonstrably false: it hasn’t, and not for almost two decades. Another is the claim that storms are increasing in size and strength: also false; indeed, the opposite is true. Another is the claim that thousands of species are going extinct: false, and easily proved to be so (see ). Another is…but you get the idea. Most of the scientific claims cited in Laudato are not true.

And men like Schellnhuber and the big chief of PAS Archbishop Sanchez Sorondo have openly admitted to barring and banning any scientist with contrary findings (see ). So it’s no surprise the Pope has been misled.

Even if he wasn’t, we can’t let politicians claim to have the Pope’s backing. The Pope said in Laudato (para. 123), “We should not think that political efforts or the force of law will be sufficient to prevent actions which affect the environment because, when the culture itself is corrupt and objective truth and universally valid principles are no longer upheld, then laws can only be seen as arbitrary impositions or obstacles to be avoided.”

He also said (in 211) ” The existence of laws and regulations is insufficient in the long run to curb bad conduct, even when effective means of enforcement are present. If the laws are to bring about significant, long-lasting effects, the majority of the members of society must be adequately motivated to accept them, and personally transformed to respond. Only by cultivating sound virtues will people be able to make a selfless ecological commitment.”

The solution to the failed philosophy and culture of materialism, which the Pope is absolutely right to condemn, is not socialism (or worse). It’s what the Holy Father himself said in Laudato (cf para. 235) are the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist. “The Sacraments are a privileged way in which nature is taken up by God to become a means of mediating supernatural life.” And (236) “It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation.”

It’s doubtful you’ll hear those passages on the nightly news.

Let me know if I can help with anything else. You may also want to contact Jay Richards and John Zmirak, who are editors at The Stream (the journal I cited above). They are enlightening on these questions.




  1. Ray

    The AGW zealots have been playing the Pope’s comments non-stop on the radio. You would think the Pope had declared that climate deniers are going straight to the seventh circle of hell.

  2. Gary

    “Pope Francis told journalists…that he has an aversion to the economy, which he does not understand very well ” Well, there’s your problem…

  3. John B()

    Regarding the “UPDATE”

    Did Christ understand “the economy”?

    Christ DID understand man
    Perhaps man’s own fear of the economy – his penchant to accumulate wealth against the fear of what might happen.
    But that “fear” leads to a deification of Mammon.
    You cannot serve both God and Mammon

    However Christ accepted the worldly economy,, the apostle Matthew, Zechius, his dealings with tax-collectors and publicans in general.

    The coins to pay the temple found in the fish

    And finally his response about “rendering to Caesar”

    But Christ NEVER outlined the perfect”world” economy.

    Any “economy” (some would call it Socialism) suggested in ACTS was ONLY meant for the church.

  4. Briggs, I disagree with your interpretation of (211) from the Encyclical: ” The existence of laws and regulations is insufficient in the long run to curb bad conduct, even when effective means of enforcement are present. If the laws are to bring about significant, long-lasting effects, the majority of the members of society must be adequately motivated to accept them, and personally transformed to respond. Only by cultivating sound virtues will people be able to make a selfless ecological commitment.”
    I think this statement is, like the one made about science, a piece of papal diplomacy, one to solace those who are put off by the many anti-capitalist statements in the Encyclical (as my wife puts, part of the fine Italian hand of the Papal advisors).
    If Pope Francis really felt that the hearts of the faithful had to be changed, he should then have called in the faithful for counsel, not those who oppose the teachings of the Church.

  5. Briggs


    And you might be right, too. But it’s well mainstream reporters are reminded of the other interpretation.

  6. Michael Dowd

    Breitbart News
    Pope Francis Confesses He Knows Little about the Economy – Breitbart

    Knowing little is evidently not an inhibiting factor for Pope Francis on any subject. My concern is not so much his knowing little about the economy or the climate but rather about the historical doctrine of the Catholic Church itself where his “thinking” is often dismissive or incorrect or bordering on the heretical.

  7. I doubt they were expecting such a detailed and well-researched reply. Bravo, Briggs! If they did want to spin this, they’d have a tough job. Your concerns about the visit are very well-founded. Let us pray that nothing the Pope does forwards any secular agenda in Washington.

  8. One must understand an enemy to be able to destroy it.

    One would indeed be a fool to start a war against an enemy that one does not understand.

    One’s desire to eliminate what one does not like doesn’t sufficiently empower one to achieve that objective. Absent understanding, one’s actions may instead strengthen what one opposes.

  9. Ilma

    When the Pope even gets his core theology wrong (Christ’s death and resurrection are the core Christian message, not ‘the sacraments/eucharist’), then what else of his sayings can we trust?

  10. John Swallow

    Pope Francis needs to refresh himself on how things turned out for the church when Pope Paul V weighed in on what were really matters of science and not theological concerns. The church never really lived that down and now Pope Francis seems to be intent on making a mistake ever bit as serious regarding something that he evidently knows nothing about; climate change.
    “The doctrine that the earth is neither the center of the universe nor immovable, but moves even with a daily rotation, is absurd, and both psychologically and theologically false, and at the least an error of faith.”
    Formal Church declaration in its indictment of Galileo

    To which Galileo replied:
    “The doctrine of the movements of the earth and the fixity of the sun is condemned on the ground that the Scriptures speak in many places of the sun moving and the earth standing still… I think that in the discussion of natural problems we ought to begin not with the Scriptures, but with experiments and demonstrations.”

    “To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin.”
    Cardinal Bellarmine, during the trial of Galileo, 1615

    “One Galileo in two thousand years is enough.”
    Pope Pius XII
    “Because I have been enjoined, by this Holy Office, to abandon the false opinion that the Sun is the center and immovable, …I abjure, curse, and detest the said errors and heresies…contrary to the said Holy Church.”
    Galileo Galilei, recanting his beliefs under threat of torture and death by the Holy Church, June 22, 1633

  11. Shawn Marshall

    Maureen Mullarkey, at First Things among others, is a tremendous writer and she is very perceptive too boot. It seems an unusual combination of skills these days.

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