On March 13, our Holy Father gave an interview to the Vaticanista Valentina Alazraki, for the Mexican network Televisa. He included one particular passage which concerned me so deeply that I have not so far written about it. It seemed to demand careful thought.
It is important to remember that not everything a Pope says calls for either the adherence of Divine Faith or even for Religious Respect (obsequium). And a Mexican television interview most certainly does not come within the category of 'Magisterial' utterances. Indeed, the first point I wish to make is the importance of distinguishing between the 'Magisterial' and the 'Non-Magisterial'.
But that is not the whole story. It is a deeply Catholic instinct, and an immensely sound one, to be very shy of disagreeing with a Pope, even when he is speaking non-Magisterially. Technically, a Christian can adhere dutifully to a Magisterial statement while expressing himself in a robust and demotic way (just as Pope Francis often does!) about the non-Magisterial utterances. But in fact, the love we naturally feel for the Vicar of S Peter dissuades us from sounding critical, even though, in terms of rights we have every right to do so. And a cleric with a mandate to teach in the Church's name ought to feel particularly uneasy about any sort of public dissent from the Supreme Pontiff's lightest word. Before he does so, he must weigh the matter in terms both theological and prudential. So I have given this a great deal of very careful thought.
To be continued.