Pastoral language makes Pope spinners’ ‘favorite’—priest

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MANDALUYONG City, Jan. 22, 2015—Given the world’s obsession with “political correctness,” Pope Francis’ use of colorful language ordinary people can relate to has made him the target of people he believes are concerned more with spinning, rather than reporting faithfully, what the Argentine pontiff says, notes a Catholic priest-educator.

“The Pope is basically a teacher and a catechist, being a deeply pastoral man. As such, his language is colorful and he uses a lot of images (another term for it is “figures of speech”) to drive home otherwise abstruse points,” shares Fr. Chito Dimaranan in a recent Facebook post where he reacts to news reports that have made mountains of the Holy Father’s figure of speech.

Pope Francis answers questions from members of the media during his flight back to Rome from the Philippines. (Photo: Roy Lagarde)

Poor at figures of speech

While he admits that the age of “tolerance” and “political correctness” does not sit well with the papal simile involving rabbits, Dimaranan pointed out that what the Pope actually meant is the Church’s opposition to artificial birth control makes some think the Church is telling them to be “like rabbits.”

“…let me say here that I, too, have used that phrase so many times years ago. Does that sound politically incorrect? Yes, it does now. Is it wrong? No. He does not say: ‘the Church is teaching that people ought not to be like rabbits.’ What he says is simply this: ‘Some people think that because the Church is against artificial birth control, the Church thereby also encourages the poor to multiply like rabbits,’” he explained.

Dimaranan stressed, however, that the Holy Father did not use the word “breed” or “multiply.”

“Let us face it. By using images, many people just don’t get it. Pinoys have little appreciation for figures of speech. We take everything literally. This is the same reason why so many fall victim to satirical sites that are taken as truths by many Filipino readers. Many cannot tell the difference between fact and fiction for showbiz culture has clouded our ability to discern one from the other,” the priest lamented.

According to him, the real core of Pope Francis’ teaching centers on the need for responsible parenthood.

Responsible parenthood

“He is not telling people to use artificial birth control so as not to multiply like rabbits do. Neither is he disparaging the poor for being so prolific. He is just being straightforward in saying that, indeed, some of us might mistakenly think that the Church is encouraging people to be irresponsible parents who cannot even take care of their children, and yet continue to behave like ‘heaven’ will provide,” he said.

“He makes a pitch, therefore, for something eminently positive, and patently human – the freedom to decide responsibly on how to space births – and, why not? – also to regulate births, while respecting and taking into consideration the methods allowable by the Church’s moral teachings. He was not talking about rabbits. He was talking of human persons endowed with free will, and with the capacity to be responsible for oneself and for others,” Dimaranan added.

The Holy Father recently made a comment on responsible parenthood during a press conference aboard “Shepherd One” on his flight back to Rome. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)

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