For centuries the extraordinary titles ascribed to the popes have been catalogued by Roman Catholics and those who oppose Roman Catholicism.
Last Sunday, in the context of Pope Francis’ historic visit to both Cuba and the U.S., Mike Wallace interviewed two Catholic churchmen who used such language when speaking about Francis I. Here is the portion of the transcript of the Fox News Sunday September 20, 2015 edition that relates to the papal visit. Notice how the use of such language to describe Francis was justified by these men.
(Links to the complete transcript and Pope Francis’ page at Papal Encyclicals Online are given below.)
(Typos in the transcript are Fox’s. I simply added emphases.)
WALLACE: A live look at Havana’s Revolution Square where Pope Francis is celebrating a huge open-air mass. It’s the pontiff’s first trip to Cuba ahead of his historic visit to the U.S. Fox’s Steve Harrigan is live in Havana with the latest on the pope’s travel. Steve.
STEVE HARRIGAN, FOX NEW CORRESPONDENT: Chris, a sweltering morning here in Havana, but that has not slowed down the faithful or the curious who have streamed into Revolution Square by the tens of thousands in the early morning hours, predawn, some arriving at 3:00 a.m., people hoping to get a look at this first Latin-American pope and hear this open air mass which is under way now. The theme of the pope’s visit to Cuba is mercy, mercy for the Cuban people and their struggles to survive, some on $20 or $25 a month, and mercy for the church here as well, which has seen much of its property confiscated after the Cuban revolution 50 years ago.
Relations between the church and the government have gotten much closer in recent years, especially after three papal visits. As far as the Cuban leader goes, Raul Castro, he was there at the airport to meet Pope Francis. He’s had warm words of praise in the past for some of the pope’s criticisms of the excesses of capitalism. He also took time to thank the pope for playing a key role in reestablishing relations between the U.S. and Cuba. The 50-year standoff, he said, the Cold War logjam was broken by this pope. And we’ve seen the two countries establish embassies just this summer. It’s going to be a busy three days for this pope here on this island of 11 million people. He’s going to give three open-air masses before heading to Washington on Tuesday. It’s likely at some point he’s going to meet with the ailing 89-year-old Fidel Castro, but one group he’s not going to meet with, this, there are no public meetings scheduled between the pope and anyone who opposes the Castro regime. Chris, back to you.
WALLACE: Steve Harrigan, reporting from Cuba. Steve, thank you for that.
For a preview of the pope’s next stop here in the U.S., I sat down earlier with two Catholic leaders, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, and Father Tomas Rosica, an adviser to the Vatican.
Your Reverence, Father Rosica, welcome back to “Fox News Sunday.”
FATHER THOMAS ROSICA, ADVISER TO THE VATICAN: Thank you. It’s good to be back.
WALLACE: Some Vatican watchers say this pope not only wants to change the church, he wants to change the world, which raises the question, how much of this trip, cardinal, is religious? And how much of it is about policy?
CARDINAL DONALD WUERL, ARCHBISHOP OF WASHINGTON: I think what he’s trying to do is make this a better place. And that essentially is a religious action, bringing people to an understanding of the relationship to God and their relationship to one another. But that’s going to have some political and some policy ramifications, to which I don’t think he will be speaking, but he will call all of us to the pastoral and spiritual reality that we have to make this a better place.
WALLACE: Well, when you say make it a better place, he’s been pretty frank and graphic about that. He has said the excesses of global capitalism are the dun of the devil. He has said that the excesses of environmental actions, the climate change is that we’re making this planet into a pile of filth. How frank and blunt do you expect him to be especially when he addresses Congress?
WUERL: Well, when he addresses Congress, I wouldn’t be surprised if he hear echoes of his encyclical (INAUDIBLE) on our coming home. And if you remember, in that letter he points out a lot of the problems, but he begins by saying we all have to come to the table, we all have to sit around the table recognizing the problems, but now work together to resolve them.
WALLACE: So, in that sense I mean it will be a political speech in the sense that he’s going to be talking about issues that the politicians have to deal with?
WUERL: It will be a pastoral speech, it will be an announcement I believe of what our obligations are to one another. The political ramifications are a part of everything anybody says. And if he’s speaking to Congress there will be the expectation that there would be policy that follows on this. But I don’t expect him to be announcing policy.
WALLACE: Is it true that he’s practicing English and that he intends to speak to congress in English?
WUERL: My understanding is he’s going to read his talk in English, and it’s completely appropriate that he would be reading in a language that isn’t his first tongue, but that’s what I’m told, it will be in English.
WALLACE: Republican Congressman Paul Gosar says that he plans to boycott the speech and he explained it this way, “When the pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one. Your response.”
WUERL: I don’t think the Holy Father is acting in any way other than as a pastor of souls. His message is interpreted by people in various ways, but everything I have heard him say sounds to me like he is a good shepherd, calling the flock. In this case he’s calling the whole human flock to respond to real problems.
WALLACE: But in dealing with those real problems, Father Rosica, one thing about this pope, is that he is willing to step on feet on all sides of various issues. He’s also going to be meeting with President Obama, and I don’t have to tell you the Catholic Church is in something of a struggle with the Obama administration about the issue of religious freedom and the debate about the Obamacare mandate when it comes to contraception and insurance coverage of that, birth control by church-related groups. Do you expect him to bring that up with the president?
ROSICA: No, but what I do think is going to happen, his visit with President Obama, with other members of the government, is that he’s coming as the cardinal said, as a pastor of souls, and his playbook for this visit, the lexicon, if you will, is not a political manual, it’s not the handbook of a particular party, it’s the gospel of Jesus Christ, which cuts across all divisions, which cuts across all of our categories. And the beauty of this pope is we can’t pigeonhole him. He’s a gentleman, he deals with heads of state with great grace and dignity. The visit to the White House, the president and his wife, and the whole team at the White House are doing a very good job, and they have a certain decorum that’s required of them at that stage to welcome the pope as the greatest, I should say, not just the great, the greatest moral leader in the world right now, and this is an opportunity for the president and his whole team to welcome him and to listen to the message of a peacemaker. The backdrop of this whole visit is not what’s happening in American politics or a presidential campaign. The backdrop is a world steeped in violence and bloodshed and rancor and hatred, and here we have coming to your city, to our diocese, a real prince of peace. If there’s any princely title that should be associated with Francis, it’s a prince of peace, it’s a bringer of peace. And when peacemakers come, they upset those who are not at peace so if people are going to be upset in any side of the spectrum here, let them look inside themselves and see what those issues are first, because in the presence of Francis, as you know and as I know, you’re in the presence of extraordinary goodness, of kindness, of intelligence and of humanity. So, humanity is coming to teach us how to be more human.
WALLACE: You talk about the decorum, particularly of the visit to the president and the reception at the White House. The administration has reportedly invited some transgender activists, the first openly gay episcopal bishop to come to the meeting, but so far there’s no word that he – that they have invited some of the leaders of the pro-life movement to the welcoming ceremony, and some Vatican officials have expressed concern about that.
ROSICA: I can tell you this formally from the Vatican, as I have a certain title to bring news from the Vatican, that the Vatican never gets involved in the guest lists of heads of state, number one. And so if some Vatican officials unnamed have expressed concern, that’s their issue, and they should come forward and give their name, but also this is not the purpose. There are 15,000 or so people invited to the White House and there are many pro-life people in that audience. I met a few coming here this morning. They are looking forward to it. They don’t have press agents who are telling the world that they are invited to the White House. That’s the problem. I was at the White House in 2008 when the president received Pope Benedict. And that’s quite a big crowd. So to say that they have invited six or eight out of 15,000 really doesn’t do justice to the 14,994 who represent the American people. And I applaud the White House for having such a wonderful reception.
WALLACE: Cardinal, there’s also a battle going on, I don’t have to tell you right now about Planned Parenthood and whether that should be defunded. And you have said that you believe the harvesting and use of fetal tissue is, in your word, heinous. Do you expect that to come up during the pope’s visit?
WUERL: I expect that the Holy Father will probably focus, as he has done consistently in his pontificate on issues such as the dignity of every human person, the value and sanctity of life, but also on the development — the social development that allows a life to fully develop. He will also speak, I would expect, to our common home. I see this thread running through his comments, whether they are his homilies, his talks, whether it is in the encyclical, that you have to start with human person, respect and care for every single human person, see that person in the context of a society that allows that person to develop and flower, and then care for the good earth that allows all of that to take place.
WALLACE: Finally, Father Rosica, and I think some people are surprised to find out, this is the first trip to the United States in this pope’s life, not his papacy, his life, and some of his Argentine friends have been quoted as saying that he has concerns about some of the excesses, consumption, ecological of this country. Do you have any sense of how he views America?
ROSICA: He has great respect for America. He’s looked at America from the outside, but one doesn’t necessarily have experiential knowledge of every single place. I haven’t been to many countries, but I have an idea of what’s going on in that country. He’s been well informed and surrounded by Americans. He belongs to an international religious order in which Americans have played a very key role, the Society of Jesus. He has wonderful bishop advisors and a few good cardinals that are working closely with them. And he knows, he’s got the pulse of the church in America and of the people. He is very well-informed and very well-read. So, I have no doubt whatsoever that the talks he will give will reflect a knowledge. It doesn’t have to be experiential knowledge of having visited the cities, but he knows what’s going on in the cities, and the key is, he understands humanity. He understands human beings and suffering human beings, and they belong to every country in the world. There are part (INAUDIBLE) the whole world. So, we have somebody coming who is going to experience America up close and the wonders of Washington, and the other places, and he’s not coming as a complete stranger.
WALLACE: Cardinal Wuerl, Father Rosica, thank you both so much. It’s going to be an exciting week here in Washington, and we thank you for the preview.
WUERL: We’re looking forward to it as well. Thank you.
ROSICA: Thank you.
The statement of Rosica that Pope Francis “understands humanity,” is of special interest, I believe. What Rosica meant seems to be that Francis understands and cares about human suffering; but sadly, this language when used about any human being is just too much. And there is an echo in it of a passage from the Gospel of John, a passage that clearly reveals that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle John declares the following about the Lord,
24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 25 and needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man.
Who but the Lord “understands humanity”? And what was Jesus’ understanding of it? Not that it is suffering but that it is not be trusted – He “did not commit himself unto them.” This indictment includes the Pope, who more than once has referred to himself as a sinner.