Pope Francis ‘taken out of context’ on ‘atheist’ remark

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Communications practitioner Rommel Lopez was the speaker for Catholic journalism in the 18th Inkblots last Dec. 19. File photo by Maria Charisse Ann G. Refuerzo

A CHURCH official has slammed media outlets for misrepresenting Pope Francis’ remarks on hypocritical Catholics and atheism, saying the Holy Father’s words were “taken out of context.”

Fr. Jonathan Cadiz, assistant parish priest of St. James the Great Parish in Alabang, said media outlets misreported the Holy Father’s remarks in a homily at Casa Santa Marta in Vatican City last Feb. 23, which deplored Catholics who don’t live their faith for causing “scandal” or danger to another person’s soul.

“[He] is saying that when [other] people meet Christians who live a double life, they comment by saying, ‘It’s better for me to be an atheist than become a hypocritical [Catholic],’” Cadiz told the Varsitarian in an interview.

The Holy Father said, according to a Radio Vaticana transcript:”There are those who say ‘I am very Catholic, I always go to Mass, I belong to this and that association.'”

“There are many Catholics who are like this and they cause scandal,” the Pope said. “How many times have we all heard people say ‘If that person is a Catholic, it is better to be an atheist!'”

Cadiz, who studies theology in UST, said Pope Francis was not promoting atheism.

“It is more of encouraging Christians to allow our faith to influence the way we live. Striving to live the faith will attract people, especially the atheists, to believe in God ” he explained.

Misreporting intentional?

Communications practitioner Rommel Lopez, who was part of the 2015 papal visit news coverage of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines News Service, claimed some media outlets “intentionally” twisted the Pope’s remarks.

“It has happened before. It is obviously done by the media outlets intentionally. Every Pope has been and will always be a newsmaker,” Lopez said in an interview.

The secular media’s focus on Pope Francis has been intense because he succeeded to two conservative popes — Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVII, he said.

“Western media and their uber-liberal agenda will always clash with those that the Bishop of Rome will preach,” he said.

”It’s not surprising that media, and even Hollywood, will jump at every opportunity to push it down the throats and drill it into the consciousness of their audiences,” he added.

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