Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Quick Hits: Pope was tough on Mexico, Archbishop Sample's focus on liturgy, argument against religious tolerance

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 24, 2016 | In Quick Hits

  • Regular readers may recall that before Pope Francis arrived in Mexico, I predicted that Pope Francis would become a factor in the Republican presidential primary in South Carolina. That prediction came true, thanks to the Pope’s answer to a reporter’s question about Donald Trump’s views on immigration. But now that the storm over that remark is subsiding, let’s take another look at what the Pope said in Mexico. It’s interesting to note that until he boarded that flight for Rome, and held that fateful press conference, the Pope had not made any major waves on the American political scene. Yes, he had celebrated Mass at the border, and had spoken about the need to treat migrants with respect. But he had not denounced American immigration policies. On the contrary, while he was in Mexico, the Pope was tougher on his hosts. “Francis took a tough tone during his Mexico visit,” read the headline on an AP story. He was tough on Mexico’s leaders—whose policies have created the conditions that make people want to emigrate—and especially tough on Mexican Church leaders. AP observed:
    On this visit, Francis made his beef with the Mexican Church clear in an inscription he left in a guestbook at a seminary: Priests should be pastors of God and not “clerics of the state” — a reference to the close ties that many senior Churchmen have with the government.

  • Bishop John Doerfler of Marquette, Michigan showed courageous pastoral leadership last month when he issued new directives for liturgical music. He was building on a foundation set in place by his predecessor in Marquette, Archbishop Alexander Sample, who now heads the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon. In a Catholic World Report interview, Archbishop Sample explained why he places so much importance on proper liturgy:
    Some have said that the sacred liturgy is my personal hang up, that I have an obsession with it. I reject that view, because it’s not merely my opinion that the liturgy be given the highest priority, but that of the Church…
    The liturgy is not the personal possession of any priest or liturgical commission, but belongs to Holy Mother Church. We must celebrate it according to the mind and heart of the Church.
  • For a much less comforting report—in fact, a reminder that public hostility toward Christianity is growing in America, building up toward a frontal assault on our religious freedom—take a look at this nasty essay in Salon, in which author Jeffrey Tayler decries the willingness to treat religious ideas respectfully. The title says it all: “We must offend religion more: Islam, Christianity and our tolerance for ancient myths, harmful ideas.”

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Feb. 25, 2016 6:15 AM ET USA

    I would be cautious in my criticisms of clergy. The 1917 Mexican Constitution destroyed any conception of a free exercise of religion. Everything in Mexico (education, worship, speech) pertaining to religion is by law controlled by the government. Article 130 of that Constitution manifests governmental control that only a community organizer could love. It was not until 1992 that Mexico reestablished diplomatic relations with the Vatican, after "more than a century of official estrangement."