A man in Argentina receives a phone call from someone identifying himself as Father Begoglio.
The caller asks to speak with the man's wife.
The call is reportedly in response to the woman's letter to the pope, 6 months earlier, complaining that her parish priest had told her that because she was divorced and remarried, she was sinning by taking communion.
The caller tells her that she is not sinning.
The wife tells her husband of the news. The husband posts the news on Facebook. The "press" reads the man's Facebook page. The story reaches the Italian publication La Stampa. The story is re-reported by the British publication the Telegraph and then out to all the world.
The story is coincidentally timed with a synod that will soon be discussing the issue of divorced and remarried Catholics.
So at the root of this, we have nothing more than a posting on a Facebook page by a guy in Argentina.
(The above details recorded here.)
However, HERE'S THE REAL PROBLEM. When the Vatican was approached about the story by the Telegraph, the Vatican spokesman said: "We would neither confirm nor deny that - this was a private telephone call made by the Holy Father and we would not divulge the details."
And as Fr. Z says in his blog: "Sheesh! ….at least uphold Catholic teaching."
Of course this mad confusion will be blamed on the press. But the press attempted to get the story straight. And the Vatican essentially told them it was none of their business.
But now let's look at the variables. Here is where the pope would be correct in his advice:
1. The woman's first husband is dead.
2. The woman's first husband was not a baptized Christian.
3. The woman's second husband was not a baptized Christian at the time they were married.
4. None of the above but the woman and her current husband are "living as brother and sister."
5. There are a multitude of other factors including the complex problems with obtaining an annulment which might necessitate a particular pastoral solution.
However, the larger problem - as this is just one of several now that have cropped up since Francis is in the driver's seat - is captured in an interview with Cardinal Meisner who said:
“At my last meeting with Pope Francis, I had the opportunity to talk very open to him about a lot of things. And I told him that some questions remain unanswered in his style of spreading the gospel through interviews and short speeches, questions which need some extended explanation for people who are not so involved. The pope looked at me “with big eyes” and asked me to give an example. And my response was : During the flight back from Rio you were asked about people who divorced and remarried. And the pope responded frankly: People who are divorced can receive communion, people who are remarried can’t. In the orthodox church you can marry twice. And then he talked about mercy, which, according to my view, is seen in this country only as a surrogate for all human faults. And the pope responded quite bluntly that he’s a son of the church, and he doesn’t proclaim anything else than the teachings of the church. And mercy has to be identical with truth – if not, she doesn’t deserve that name. Furthermore, when there are open theological questions, it’s up to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to give detailed responses“.
To this, Fr. Z responds: "From this we can perhaps glean that Pope Francis may not be entirely aware of the havoc (¿lío?) that some of his home-spun, off-the-cuff comments in the mainstream media have caused."