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What Did Pope Francis Say to CLAR about the Curia, Traditionalists, New Gnostics, and the Poor?

By Deacon Keith Fournier
June 12th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Media outlets and the blogosphere are still ablaze with stories and rewritten reports of a pastoral meeting Pope Francis held with the Board of Directors of CLAR (the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious Men and Women (CLAR). Unfortunately many of the reports border on sensationalism and are not news.The meeting involved a private, pastoral talk between a Pastor and a group to which he seeks to give good, sound, pastoral direction to in his charge of providing universal care for the faithful.

VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) -  Media outlets and the blogosphere are still ablaze with stories and rewritten reports of a pastoral meeting Pope Francis held with the Board of Directors of CLAR (the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious Men and Women. Unfortunately many of the reports border on sensationalism and are not really news stories.

The meeting involved a private, pastoral talk between the Bishop of Rome and a group to which he seeks to give good, sound, pastoral direction to in his charge of providing universal care for the faithful. As most accurate reports have noted, the meeting involved a conversational dialogue. This was not meant to be a public forum. That is not because of any desire for secrecy; simply put, it is how pastoral conversations are supposed to be conducted.

Unfortunately, in an age of sensationalist news coverage, the Pope's comments were leaked, apparently by a participant and have led to a litany of reports in both secular and religious news sources. His extemporaneous remarks showed up on a Spanish website and have since become fodder for all kinds of speculative reporting and reactionary responses.

These remarks were not recorded, no notes were taken, and no official text of the meeting exists.
Among the comments he made regarded his efforts at curial reform, "In the Curia, there are also holy people, really, there are holy people. But there also is a stream of corruption, there is that as well, it is true... The 'gay lobby' is mentioned, and it is true, it is there... We need to see what we can do."

When read in context, there is nothing surprising or newsworthy here. Multiple reports have been issued since Francis assumed office of his work in cleaning up the curia, correcting what needs correction and reforming its operation. In fact, we were all made aware during the transition between Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis that a lengthy report was delivered which concerned a number of sensitive matters which he needed to deal with.  

Notice, the news stories did not concern the holy people he referred to in his comments on the Curia. Certainly, anyone who is aware of Church history knows that the Church is often in need of internal reform. Such a reform is currently underway.  

The extemporaneous remarks also contained a comment noting both his respect for Catholics who self identify as traditionalists as well as his reaction to one expression of prayer which he was offered and an off the cuff insight he made. He also cautioned against what he called a new Gnostic tendency in some other groups which could be characterized as new age in common parlance and is pantheistic more than Christian.

He affirmed his love for the poor and expressed worries that a misguided materialism might place the stock market average as more important in news reports than their needs. He spoke of his response to the Lord's call to become the Pope with characteristic candor and humility.  He recalled with fondness his participation in the 5th General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate, held in the Marian shrine of Aparecida, Brazil, in 2007.

The reports were all generated by a first report which was offered on a site which I regularly visit to find news of interest to those Catholics who self identify as traditionalist Catholics, Rorate Caeli. The entire transcript can be read in its entirety here

After reading the reports the question which I used to title this article occurred to me. What Did Pope Francis Really Say to CLAR about the Curia, Traditionalists, New Gnostics and the Poor? Is it really all that newsworthy? You decide. I already have.

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