Showing posts with label pope. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pope. Show all posts

Friday, 27 December 2013

How to Write a Popular Article about Pope Francis: Five Top Tips

With the media's saturation with material on Pope Francis, this novel Pope has captured the attention of people who seemed to have written off the Catholic Church. He is Time's Person of the Year, The Advocate (LGBT paper) Person of the Year, the news is full of his one-liners. But with so much stuff being written about him, how does one hope to make a successful article? Here are the five top tips:

1. The most important point to make is how dramatically different the nice Pope Francis is from that dreadful Benedict XVI. Do not even consider mentioning any similarities, be they in tone or the identical teaching of the two Pontiffs – make sure you contrast heavily the conservative Benedict with the emancipated Francis.

2. Similarly, talk about how much of a break this is from everything the Church has taught in the past: make it clear that Catholics are now pro-choice, and no longer believe any exclusivist nonsense like Jesus’ old-fashioned statement that “nobody comes to the Father except through me.” Make it doubly clear that anything the Church has ever taught or done is likely to be changed at upcoming synods and in future Pope Francis encyclicals.

3. Put in some good quotes that seem to suggest that Francis is indeed changing everything, but make sure all the context is removed, lest it sound like he is just saying something the Church has been saying for the past few decades under this Pope’s predecessor’s. Extra points for phrases like “rejection of dogma.”

4. Dedicate a paragraph to how concerned those nasty moralistic “conservative” or “traditional” Catholics are about this “liberal” Pope. If you can make out that the usual targets, like Cardinals Arinze, Pell or Burke are anything but chuffed at this new Pontiff, even better.

5. If nothing else, highlight how the Church is no longer concerned about the totality of the human person, which would include humanity as a sexual creature, but only the fashionable theme of care for the poor. Omit completely the strange talk of evangelism and missionary discipleship, and even more importantly, do not tie this in to anything like judgement or Hell, because that is uncool.


So there it is, the most important tips to making a successful article about someone who seems so great you might even call him Catholic. 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Mathean Infancy Narrative (Part 1)

The gospel according to St Matthew is one of the two gospels with an infancy narrative, and the Pope Emeritus published some (reportedly) excellent scholarship on it. Since I have not read it and I doubt I could top it, my reflections on this passage will be mostly things that stick out to me, and bits of background information I found illuminating.


"Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way."

It is common for very important people (kings and emperors, in particular) in the ancient world to have miraculous birth narratives told of them, and so St Matthew tells of a miraculous birth at the onset of his gospel. From a literary perspective, I think the goal is to elevate this figure Jesus, whom he has already called the Messiah/Christ thrice, to this status of leader, of King. Just because something is a literary device, however, does not mean Jesus was not born of a virgin - indeed, the reference in verse 23 seems to indicate that St Matthew believes this to be an actual event. I personally embrace wholeheartedly the idea that Jesus was born to Mary, the Mother of God - but this is something taken from a richer theological framework, from a broader theology of Scripture and revelation. Nonetheless, that is what the text says: that Jesus, the Messiah, was born of the Virgin Mary.

What about the role of St Joseph? He appears as a rather quiet figure. He is spoken to, but he does not say anything. Similarly, the Church has regarded St Joseph as the quiet father figure, giving him a certain nobility and humility of character. In support of this, the text refers to him as "a righteous man" (v. 19).

Other than his title, the Christ, and his genealogy (being the son of David), we do not know much of Jesus until verse 20. Here we learn that his origin, though Davidic, is also divine: "the child conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit." We also learn in the same verse of his mission, or at least, one of his objectives: "he will save his people from their sins."

When we, as Christians, read this "mission statement" given to Jesus by the angel, we might suddenly envisage the cross, and if we reflect on that image in the context of the annunciation, we may be lead to thinking this is a sad passage; the angel announces Jesus' death even before he is born. This image, though accurate, is not the message I think was trying to be made. Instead, I believe we should try and see this section as the birth of the child of the covenant, the promised son of David who would bring to fulfilment God's plan of salvation that had been begun with Abraham. Here is the person who would set things straight in God's plan, dealing decisively with injustice and evil-doings - that is, putting an end to sin. Notice the wording of the text is not "pay the price for people's sins" or "he will be a propitiation for their sins", but a message of salvation. For the moment, St Matthew is feeding our excitement at how the child Jesus is affirming Messianic expectations - it shan't be long before they are subverted, but not quite yet.