I’ve been pretty quiet about Pope Francis (except for this blog post here), but when CNN Opinion asked me to write about the latest Francis controversy, I gave my two cents:
What has the popular Pope Francis done now?
A woman in Argentina says the pope called her Monday and told her she could receive Communion, despite being married to a divorced man, reports say. According to the woman and her husband, the pope allegedly said, “There are some priests who are more papist than the pope” — referring to the parish priest who refused to give Communion to the woman.
The Vatican initially refused to comment, but CNN received confirmation of the phone call from a Vatican press office spokesman on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Vatican released a statement responding to the media attention saying the content of the pope’s personal phone calls “cannot be confirmed as reliable, and is a source of misunderstanding and confusion.”
The defensiveness of the pope’s PR handlers hints of a cleanup. It’s true that Pope Francis has earned the nickname the “cold-calling pope” for his practice of picking up the phone and calling everyday folks (although there has been at least one hoax about a papal phone call).
If the pope were to counsel a Catholic in this way, it would be significant. The Catholic Church officially teaches that marriage is for life and that couples who divorce are still married in the eyes of the church unless they receive an annulment — a process that literally nullifies the first marriage. (Reports do not indicate whether the man’s first marriage was annulled, but it’s unlikely since the couple say they were married civilly.) The church’s position is based on Jesus’ teachings in the Bible equating marriage after divorce with adultery.
Read my entire column at the April 24, 2014 post on CNN.com here. (The post got nearly 500 comments).