Like most of you, I was surprised when I learned that the Holy Father was apparently disparaging EWTN in his private conversation with the Jesuit community in Slovakia. My reaction to the news, which was dropped by Father Spadaro, the editor of La Civiltà Cattolica, took several stages of deduction.
First of all, I was surprised at the disproportion of a pope jousting with a Catholic medium of communication. “Aquila non capit muscas” was the phrase that came to mind: an eagle does not hunt flies. Hugo Chavez once quoted the proverb when he explained why he was not going to respond to criticism by a deputy of the Assembly in Venezuela. He was above all that, he said smiling to his cheering partisans.
Secondly, I thought it was embarrassing to see the sensitivity of the Vicar of Christ (even though he supposedly doesn’t like the title) to comments that were deliberately couched not to be disrespectful to him personally or ecclesiastically, even though they were expressions of disagreement. St. Paul spoke much more vigorously against St. Peter, the first pope, as is seen in the Letter to the Galatians. This is a pope who has almost said “let a thousand flowers bloom,” with regard to thinking about the Church. Didn’t he say to the superiors of the religious communities in Latin America that we should not be afraid to make mistakes? In the same remarks to the Jesuits in Slovakia, the pope praised freedom and said that some were afraid of the intellectual consequences of spiritual freedom. Is the alleged dissent of some commentators at EWTN excepted from the new freedom the pope promotes?