Writings by Cole Huffman

Faith in Memphis Post 8/10/13

My Faith in Memphis post last week was requested in response to comments Pope Francis made the week previous to a media pool on his plane regarding gay priests. I got some questions over the weekend about that section of my comments the newspaper ran; the paper only prints a portion of panelist responses in the Saturday edition anyway, and the first paragraph below was printed. But then the end of my full response got pinched off at the Faith in Memphis site (http://faithinmemphis.com/2013/08/12/news-in-the-nuances) so I've taken to my blog to include the whole response as I submitted it:

"How to judge a man’s who-am-I-to-judge statement? It appears this pope still upholds biblical doctrine on homosexuality as a way of life, so let’s not take him to be a philosopher on par with our cousin Bob’s squishy cultural relativism. Some will say the pope was essentially invoking what Jesus said about interpersonal judging in His famed Sermon on the Mount, the street value of which amounts to no one should say someone else is wrong about something they’ve decided is good or right for themselves. Does anyone actually believe Jesus had that kind of moral neutrality or otherwise in mind when He said 'judge not' (Matt. 7:1-6)? I take it this pope doesn’t because in the same free-ranging discussion on his plane he judged past popes right in their judgment that women remain banned from the priesthood.  

"See an assessment of the media coverage here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/sns-rt-us-media-popewomen-coverage-20130730,0,2071910.story.

"In fuller versions of his comments—the gay question he responded to had to do with priests—Francis said 'the tendency [to homosexuality] isn’t the problem [re: priests].' Unlike his immediate predecessor, Benedict XVI, Francis will draw a distinction between experiencing same-sex attraction and acting it out. Okay, that’s a newsworthy nuance.  

"Protestant that I am I’ll quibble with Francis about his word choice. Who-am-I-to-judge sounds downright breezy coming from a pope’s mouth and assures breezy interpretations by a hoi polloi soft on the question of what homosexuality is. Besides, I don’t know that Western civilizations risk anything now for too much judging as for too little.

"So for the cousin Bobs out there celebrating the with-it-ness of the papacy—finally!—I’m reminded of what William F. Buckley said he did upon hearing his friend Henry Kissinger secretly visited Mao in China: 'I broke wind, with heavy philosophical reservation.' So did I when I heard the pope’s statement, if only for knowing it would be keyed on like seventh graders hearing a fart during the math test."

Posted by Cole Huffman at 4:38 PM
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