“A vaccine against faith…”

termite woodAlthough I’m not the only one, I admit that I’ve found yet another headscratcher in Pope Francis’s recently released remarks, made in November to male religious superiors, about “gay unions” and “education”.

According to the Vatican, spearheaded by the unsleeping Fr. Federico Lombardi, “media interpretations [about the pope’s statements] were ‘paradoxical’ and a ‘manipulation’ of the pope’s words, particularly as some media quoted him as speaking specifically of homosexual unions, which he did not.”

According to Jimmy Akin–well, he admits that he’s not entirely certain what Pope Francis has in mind. His overall assessment seems to be this, though:

Because many children have parents today that are publicly living in unions contrary to Christian teaching, there is a real problem in terms of how to communicate Christian teaching to them in a way that does not alienate them from the Church. This is what he means when he says: “We must be careful not to administer a vaccine against faith to them.”

Unfortunately, pace Lombardi, Akin notes that the words of Pope Francis do refer to what may well refer to a homosexual union. But hey, there’s always tomorrow. Speaking of tomorrow, let’s not forget yesterday and today. I don’t buy Akin’s assumption (even if it’s Pope Francis’s, as well) that these family issues are peculiar to “today”. Here we see yet another temptation to modify and water-down the simple truth based on the illusion that we are in a new era, dealing with new human realities, etc. Mundabor characteristically skewers the sloppy thinking on this point: Stat orbis dum volvitur crux.

At the other end of the spectrum, according to The Advocate, fresh on the heels of nominating Pope Francis as its “Person of the Year”, Francis “does seem to be continuing to approach LGBT people and their concerns in a more welcoming, less condemnatory way than his predecessors.” I’m glad to see the staff and readership of The Advocate is so warmly embracing the Catholic teaching on these matters.


This episode only reminds us of a painful lesson, which I pray Pope Francis will take to heart: If a teacher speaks carelessly, he is inviting students to listen selectively; to sow ambiguity is to harvest error and sin. It is already hard enough for the word of life to grow to maturity in this life. This papacy must make much greater efforts not to sow the pope’s words in such dense rhetorical weeds. As I believe I read elswhere, “There is no such things as a Vice Pope.” Or at least, there shouldn’t be. As we read in Luke 8:

“5 The sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 6 And other some fell upon a rock: and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And other some fell among thorns, and the thorns growing up with it, choked it. 8 And other some fell upon good ground; and being sprung up, yielded fruit a hundredfold. Saying these things, he cried out: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. 9 And his disciples asked him what this parable might be. 10 To whom he said: To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to the rest in parables, that seeing they may not see, and hearing may not understand. 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 And they by the way side are they that hear; then the devil cometh, and taketh the word out of their heart, lest believing they should be saved.

“13 Now they upon the rock, are they who when they hear, receive the word with joy: and these have no roots; for they believe for a while, and in time of temptation, they fall away. 14 And that which fell among thorns, are they who have heard, and going their way, are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and yield no fruit. 15 But that on the good ground, are they who in a good and perfect heart, hearing the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience.”

In any case, in the spirit of openness that is supposed to typify this papacy, I am writing an open letter to the Holy Father.

Dear Pope Francis,

Would you say that the following is a good example of what you mean by administering “a vaccine against faith” to those promoting active homosexual lives?

“The identity of the family, and its survival, are in jeopardy here: father, mother, and children. The life of so many children who will be discriminated beforehand due to the lack of human maturity that God willed them to have with a father and a mother is in jeopardy. A clear rejection of the law of God, engraved in our hearts, is in jeopardy. … Here, the envy of the Devil … deceitfully intends to destroy the image of God: man and woman, who receive the mandate to grow, multiply, and conquer the earth. Let us not be naive: it is not a simple political struggle; it is an intention destructive of the plan of God. It is not a mere legislative project…, but rather a “move” of the father of lies who wishes to confuse and deceive the children of God.”


Elliot Bougis

Luke 9:62 – “Jesus said to him: No man putting his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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7 Responses to “A vaccine against faith…”

  1. Of course, she is, Ben, but the point is, you went out of your way, not only to flout your own resolution to be done with me, but also to go over your wife’s head and EXPLICITLY TELL ME that you wanted to call me “clueless” when you called me something else. You’re only good for comic relief at this point.

  2. Well, okay, then. (reference to Raising Arizona)

  3. I just don’t understand what his errant metaphors mean. Vaccine against the faith… WHA? As I admitted long ago, I must have lost my Secret Papal Decoder Ring in August. Many times he’s as clear to me as Charlie Brown Adults.

  4. Is the vaccine to speak bluntly about the sin of homosex? What is the vaccine? Lend me your papal decoder ring.

  5. What other statement do you know of in which Bergoglio/Pope Francis clearly denounces so-called “gay marriage”? If all we have to go by is his letter to the Carmelite nuns, then we have a right to employ it as a good model for speaking about “gay schmarriage.” If, however, so blunt a statement would vaccinate the children subject to “gay” adults, then what OUGHT we say? He recently was reported to express shock at the idea of “gay adoption”–I have a feeling that kind of outrage would vaccinate some kids to faith. What’s a poor boy to do in a “new age”?

  6. All of this only goes to prove my larger point: without hordes of clever lay apologists of the same caliber as yourself, no one would know what Pope Francis is teaching. He’s the closest thing to sola scriptura that I’ve ever seen Catholics embrace.

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