Remember, “Who am I to judge?”
Of course you do.
It was that one, off-the-cuff line from an in-flight press conference (taken completely out of context) that enamored the far left to Pope Francis, from The Advocate and Elton John to morning television’s most mind-eviscerating hour, The View.
And just recently, while discussing natural family planning and Catholic teaching on openness to life, the pope said that good Catholics don’t have to breed “like rabbits.”
Cue media feeding frenzy.
Here’s the problem. You and I may know what the pope was talking about, but most people in our made-for-soundbite world do not know the context and will have their opinions formed for them by an agenda-driven media that loves to cherry pick the pope’s shooting from the hip observations and cram them into provocative headlines to suggest he’s saying something that he’s not saying at all. And that’s the point. On many center-left news sites, countless headlines took varying forms of, “Pope says Catholics don’t have to breed ‘like rabbits’“. Or another: “Did Pope Francis just break new ground on birth control?” The reality is, many people won’t click to read further in order to see the context in which he was speaking. They’ll see the headline, chuckle and immediately sign onto the ever-expanding “liberal Pope Francis” caricature.
I actually read the homilies and addresses given by Pope Francis while he was in the Philippines and I found them moving, clear and forceful. For a brief moment, it seemed like even some in the media were surprised by his traditional volte face. But all that was drowned out by the airplane “rabbits” line which, as we all know, is an analogy that secular neo-Malthusians have historically used to deride large families. The pope was sharply criticizing Malthusian thought, but the choice of words backfired and played right into the media’s hands.