So did you hear that Pope Francis punched a rabbit in the Philippines? Like, dude, it was like the Thrilla in Manila all over again!
And I heard it was a cartoon rabbit or something, and had made fun of the Profit (sp?) of Islam... and so the Pope, like, totally punched it. Whoa! But it's OK, because the Pope said that all rabbits go to heaven when they die, reversing centuries of infallible dogma. Whaddaguy.
OK, so maybe I got parts of that story wrong. Or... the whole story wrong. Great - now I'm qualified to work for the New York Times! Big Apple, here I come.
So the Pope made a statement on freedom of religion, non-violence, and freedom of expression. There was a little more to it than 'Don't punch my mother, or the rabbit gets it,' or whatever the media said he said. And he made a statement about responsible parenthood and the Church's teachings on family planning. There was a little more to it than 'Michelle Duggar is a rabbit and your father smells of elderberries,' or whatever the media said he said.
Folks, I know I've said it before, but when you read something in the media that Pope Francis said something cuckoobananapants crazy, there are two possibilities. First, that Pope Francis is cuckoobananapants crazy. Second, that the media... well, to put it charitably, the media aren't quite reporting the story totally accurately.
After the 'who am I to judge?' debacle, the 'all dogs go to heaven' farce, the 'Ima puncha you face' inanity, and now the 'don't be a rabbit, dawg!' idiocy... my money is on the media just a bit, kind of, having got the story wrong.
And when you read some foolishness about the Pope, you have two possible courses of action, it seems to me. You could go read what the man actually said (the two links above took me exactly 20 seconds to find, by the way - it's not like it's hard to track down the straight story). And think about it. And put it in the context of, oh I don't know, EVERYTHING ELSE THE MAN HAS EVER SAID IN HIS LONG LIFE. All of which has been totally and utterly Catholic. That's one thing you can do.
But if time is short and you just don't feel like doing that you can always... well, ignore it. There is an unseemly fixation on popes in our modern church, I would gently suggest. Every word that comes out of their mouths (this did not start with Pope Francis), every time they so much as hiccup or cough, we are supposed to anxiously parse it out for every possible shred and shade of meaning.
Nonsense. The Pope is not the center of the Catholic faith. Jesus Christ is the center of the Catholic faith. The Pope has a vital and necessary role to play, and we owe him our filial loyalty and respect, our prayers, our attention when he speaks magisterially, and our religious submission to the exercise of his ordinary teaching office. And... that's about it, really! He's not supposed to be the focus of our faith life. Really.
So the next time the media 'punches the rabbit', so to speak (as opposed to jumping the shark), keep cool, either find out the real story for yourself or quietly go on with the duties of your state of life and your own discipleship of Jesus Christ. That's what matters, not anything else. Really.