Tags: MidPoint | Pope Francis | Brad Miner | Charlie Hebdo | Vatican

Catholic Scholar: Pope 'Misspoke' on Charlie Hebdo Attacks

By    |   Friday, 16 Jan 2015 03:39 PM

Pope Francis was striking blows for civility and greater Catholic-Muslim harmony – or so he thought – when he opined on the Charlie Hebdo massacre, but stumbled by emphasizing to reporters on Thursday that it's wrong to "insult other people's faith," says a Catholic scholar and journalist.

"The Pope was making a point in his very sort of earthy way … that civility is better than incivility, that treating people with respect is better than trashing them," Brad Miner, senior editor at The Catholic Thing, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Friday.

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"However, his response was clearly not well planned," said Miner, also a senior fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute, noting that yet again the Vatican stepped in to clarify an off-the-cuff pontifical remark.

Francis was chatting with reporters on a flight to Asia about the violence last week in Paris, where Islamist gunmen shot and killed 12 people at the offices of the satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, known for its less-than-reverential cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad and other religious figures – this pope included.

The Pope also said that killing in the name of God was "an aberration," but the "insult" comment drew the most attention, and prompted a Vatican press officer to explain, “the pope's expression is in no way intended to be interpreted as a justification for the violence and terror that took place in Paris last week."

Miner agreed that Francis would never endorse suppression against Charlie Hebdo.

"There are plenty of cartoons, by the way, in the new issue of Charlie Hebdo about him, particularly," he said. "There is no Catholic equivalent of a fatwa, but even if there were, I don't think he would exercise it against them."

"His interest in the subject – his passion, his desire, and this is not entirely a good thing – is to have amity between Catholics and Muslims," said Miner. "It got the best of him and he misspoke."

It won't be the last time, he added.

"One of the things that happens with this pope, that really didn't happen very often with Benedict XVI or John Paul II, are those follow-up memos from the Vatican to the press saying, 'Well, he didn't really say what he said,' or 'He didn't really mean what you thought he meant,' " said Miner.

"And that's unfortunate, but that's the character of this man,": he said. "He believes in spontaneity …  and he's trusting that the spirit will guide him to say the right thing."

Miner said that it's not so much a sense of papal entitlement at work "as it is of being Jorge Bergoglio.

"It's the way he is," said Miner. "He's a 77-year-old man at this point. He's not going to change; he is who he is. He's going to continue to make these off-the-cuff statements, and they'll have to backtrack."

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Pope Francis was striking blows for civility and greater Catholic-Muslim harmony – or so he thought – when he opined on the Charlie Hebdo massacre, but stumbled by emphasizing to reporters on Thursday that it's wrong to "insult other people's faith," says a Catholic scholar and journalist.
Brad Miner, Charlie Hebdo, Vatican
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2015-39-16
Friday, 16 Jan 2015 03:39 PM
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