Catholic Answers’ Jimmy Akin: "Time to Cut Through the Confusion About Pope Francis"

April 30, 2014 | 19 comments

SAN DIEGO — From the moment of Pope Francis’s election, the media have been misrepresenting his words and actions. It’s gotten to the point that even faithful Catholics have begun to wonder what is true and what is false.

Some hope that Pope Francis will reverse the Church’s teaching on abortion, contraception, divorce, homosexuality, and women in the priesthood. He has been portrayed as the progressive antidote to his hard-line predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.

Jimmy Akin, a writer and speaker for the San Diego-based ministry Catholic Answers, could not disagree more with the media’s version of the new pope. And he plans to say so in a special presentation, “Pope Francis: The Man, the Myth, and the Media.” Mr. Akin will deliver his talk at the Catholic Answers National Conference in San Diego, September 4-6. (Visit for complete details.)

“Anyone who has kept up with what Pope Francis has said and done so far will realize that we have a much more interesting pope on our hands than the caricature given to us by CNBC and Fox News,” Akin said.

Akin has been a student not only of the Holy Father’s first year in office but also of his career in Argentina. “Pope Francis’s call to bring the Faith to the world, to meet people where they are, and to bring them to Christ is a message he has been delivering for his entire priesthood,” said Akin.

“People will be startled when they understand what Pope Francis is actually doing and just how badly the media has twisted the story to suit its own agenda,” he explained. “I look forward to cutting through the lies and distortions at this year’s conference.” 

To enable as many people as possible to attend, Catholic Answers is offering a special discount of more than $100 per person for anyone who registers for the conference before May 31. Registration and information are available at

Comments by Members

#1  JOE OFFER - APPLEGATE, California

I think that Pope Francis is very unlikely to change much in the way of doctrine, if any. He is reminding us of the balance of the various teachings of the Catholic Church. Too often, religious people seem to concentrate on "sins of the flesh," and focus on condemning the sexual conduct of other people instead of questioning their own conduct. The Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church discuss sexual morality in a matter-of-fact sort of way, but do not dwell on sexual matters. Instead, the emphasis is the dignity of human life and on service to those who are in need. It seems that the sin that Jesus condemns most often in the Gospels, is the hypocrisy of devout religious people, the Pharisees.
I think Pope Francis is giving a warning to all of us when he says, "Who am I to judge?" We must look first to our own conduct, and let God be the judge of our brothers and sisters.
-Joe Offer-

April 30, 2014 at 10:28 pm PST
#2  Debbie Douglas - Fraser, Michigan

I follow this Catholic gal and think she is dead on: The Gospel Rewritten by Pope Francis
“For God so loved the world, as to give His only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him, will never be lonely, and will always have a job.”

The actual quote, in case you missed it:

“The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old.”

And then there’s this gem:

Your Holiness, is there is a single vision of the Good? And who decides what it is?
“Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good.”

Your Holiness, you wrote that in your letter to me. The conscience is autonomous, you said, and everyone must obey his conscience. I think that’s one of the most courageous steps taken by a Pope.
“And I repeat it here. Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.”


Francis is a scourge. He is a chastisement upon us, and we deserve it because we have done basically NOTHING while the Church has been all but destroyed, the Mass turned into an abomination and a mocking of Our Blessed Lord upon the Altar and in the Tabernacle, and Western Civilization destroyed as a direct result.

50 million children are murdered every year in the world. Sodomy and fornication are destroying lives and souls at a clip never before seen in human history, and now have as their goal the total and complete destruction of the family unit and the sacrament of marriage. The financial system has been destroyed and the livelihoods of billions of people are, as we speak, being stolen and the loot being distributed amongst a cadre of oligarchs. Mohamedism is running totally unchecked and is now explicitly supported by the maggot-infested carcass of post-Christian civilization, led by the former American republic.

Every day souls are lost forever to hell in numbers that are far too horrific to comprehend.

And Pope Narcissus I just said that the two greatest problems in the world are youth unemployment and lonliness among old people.

Well, let’s see, I’m technically unemployed, and now poor, and am terrified of what will become of me if I should live to old age. Gee, I wish I had been torn limb from limb and then had my brains sucked out of my skull. If only I wasn’t so hindered by OBJECTIVE MORALITY, I might have gone to a nightclub and assuaged, even if only temporarily, my loneliness. Because, you know, good and evil are just “conceptions” in my mind.

Even if the Holy Spirit strikes Francis dead tomorrow, the fact that he has said these things and has given the enemies of God and His Holy Church these rhetorical cudgels will live on until Our Lord returns in Glory. These quotes will be used henceforth to discredit and sow confusion. We will be beaten with them non-stop from now on. Paul VI remained silent in the face of abject insubordination and sat and watched as the Mass and Christian culture were dismantled in the 1960s and 70s. But Paul VI wrote Humanae Vitae. As horrible as his silence was, even Paul VI can be defended because his words, when he said anything, were Catholic. Francis is making positive statements, albeit NOT ex cathedra statements, but still private statements made important by the massive dignity of his office, that are now clearly outside of Catholicism and are textbook Modernism. That is a whole ‘nother level of ugly, friends.

Go to confession early and often. And remember, there is no salvation outside the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. If you leave and reject the Church, you are leaving and rejecting Christ. Period. The separation of the wheat from the chaff, the sorting of the sheep from the goats, the sorting of the catch in the nets. That’s what this is.

May 1, 2014 at 6:39 am PST
#3  Debbie Douglas - Fraser, Michigan

One more from Ann Barnhardt - Prayerfully hoping I am not offending anyone here...just think this gal is right on: Unpleasant but Necessary Piece on Pope Francis 1
In the continued spirit of fulfilling my apparent vocation of being the person who faces and then clearly explains the unpleasantries of life, let’s have a little talk about Pope Francis.

The incident precipitating this essay happened last week, but this has been building for a while. Pope Francis has acquired the habit of saying daily Mass in a chapel on the grounds of the Vatican (and, of course, the chapel is ugly, often described as looking like a particularly cheap set piece from the original Star Trek series, because, you know, ugliness equals poor and dazzlingly humble, or something † don’t get me started).

In these near-daily Masses, Pope Francis has been delivering what are being called “sermonettes”. They are delivered off-the-cuff, and are breathlessly reported by the global press after being picked up from the original reportage by the Vatican Press Office. And, as is expected, and as is very easy to do, the press sensationalizes Francis’ words and frequently scandal and error regarding Church teaching is the result. Last week Francis made headlines with one of his sermonettes that was widely interpreted as implying the possibility of salvation for atheists qua atheists through good works.

Double facepalm.

Believe it or not, the point of this piece is NOT to pillory the press. In fact, I will offer a defense of the press, which even I am having a hard time getting my head around. Here’s the deal. Pope Francis, while the Vicar of Christ gloriously reigning, is not a terribly bright man. What brings Jorge Maria Bergoglio’s intellectual shortcomings into even starker relief is the fact that his predecessor, Benedict XVI Ratzinger is not only a bona fide genius, but also † still alive. Francis is a mediocre intellect, poorly educated, and a member of an order (the Jesuits) that is so far-gone that it should be suppressed. Layer on top of this the generation of which Francis is a product: perhaps the most godless, evil, blind generation in human history, and add in the fact that while being poorly educated in the age of the hippy, he has also lived his entire life in South America, which has been more steadily and overtly influenced by Marxism, both in the secular world as well as in the Church, than either Europe or North America over the last fifty years.

Jorge Maria Bergoglio is the first “affirmative action” pope – which is a different thing entirely from nepotism. The College of Cardinals, again, not exactly a collection of the smartest men in the world – remember Tracksuit Timmy Dolan, dinner host of antichrists and celebrant of “gay” Masses, a man whose capacity for intellectual nuance is on par with a box of hair, is not only a cardinal, but the head of the U.S. Bishop’s conference – went into the conclave wanting to elect not the best man, not the brightest intellect, not the most competent manager. No. The criteria were racial and geographical. “Um, we need to have a pope from the Western Hemisphere. We need to have a pope from a Spanish-speaking country. We need to make the Latinos feel good and keep the Latino money flowing, because they are the only ones not contracepting themselves into extinction.”

And, if this culture of stupidity persists, then mark my words: they will elect a black African next time for no other reason than “affirmative action”.

Now, back to Francis’ sermonettes, and defending the press. There is a tremendous uproar on the internet with people cursing the Vatican Press Office for not releasing the full transcripts of Francis’ sermonettes but instead only piecemeal summaries consisting of brief quotes from Francis with press-written prose between the quotes to give context. “Give us the full transcripts!”

The reason they aren’t releasing the full transcripts is because Francis’ sermonettes are so rambling, so incoherent and sometimes so embarrassing in their delivery (verbal ticks like, “eh?” and “right?”) that the Vatican Press Office is trying to protect both Francis and the dignity of the Holy See by taking Francis’ stream-of-consciousness rhetorical sausage and presenting it as something that could maybe pass as steak. And remember, we are coming off of the pontificate of Ratzinger, who was and is a rhetorical genius, and who routinely delivered not just steak, but super-prime rhetorical filet mignon with the care and precision of speech that one would expect from the Vicar of Christ – and even then could still be quoted out of context or have his words twisted by the press and the world.

While some people might shallowly claim to love Francis’ “down-to-earth style”, the events of last week in particular brought to the fore why it is that Francis needs to be “sat down” and told in no uncertain terms that he MUST stop these rambling sermonettes. When you are the Pope, the Vicar of Christ, the head of the Magisterium of the Church, the world will hang on your every word, both for good and for ill. Obviously, good Catholics are interested in what the successor to Peter has to say. Conversely, the Enemy and all of his minions are looking to pounce of every single opportunity for scandal and confusion. Rambling, off-the-cuff sermonettes are fertile, fecund soil in which to cultivate scandal and confusion. That is what happened last week. Francis’ rhetorical slop resulted in countless atheists becoming convinced that they could go to heaven so long as they occasionally do good works. It also resulted in scandal as many Protestants who subscribe to the Lutheran “sola fide” (faith alone) heresy were given a huge bit of ammunition with which to confuse and seduce the ignorant, uncatechized Catholics, which is to say 99.99999% of modern Catholics.

We are indeed saved by faith, but faith without works is dead. But, what Francis either doesn’t understand or was negligent in not making clear, is that good works without faith are without merit. What Francis’ bumbling sermonette slop last week implied, and was splashed all over the planet within minutes, was that works alone could somehow save atheists qua atheists. I don’t know if Pope Francis actually believes that – it is possible given that he is indeed a hippy Jesuit from South America. I cannot over-emphasize how poorly educated and contra-educated these people are. The point is that he isn’t sharp enough to ANTICIPATE the reaction to his words, and then rhetorically pin-down any loose ends so that there can be little to no confusion. A speaker who covers all of his bases and essentially rebuts and answers all questions before they can even be asked is said to be “shooting in a tight circle”. Francis does not shoot in a tight circle. Francis lacks the self-awareness to realize that he is NOT a rhetorical genius, and thus the humility to just † not speak, which is generally good advice for any Pope. Say as little as possible, Holy Father. Additionally, he also lacks the self-awareness to recognize the scandal that he causes both among the faithful and those outside the Church.

May 1, 2014 at 7:55 am PST
#4  Michael Murphy - San Carlos, California

While Ms. Douglas seems very sincere, I think that perhaps someone should moderate her comments.

May 1, 2014 at 8:01 am PST
#5  Ric Vesely - Longmont, Colorado

Dear Debbie:

Regarding your quote from Scalfari's "interview", Scalfari himself has stated: “some of the Pope’s words I reported were not shared by Pope Francis.” Be wary of trusting the press or blogs, especially if it leads you to mock our Holy Father.

May 1, 2014 at 8:06 am PST
#6  Michael Murphy - San Carlos, California

As far as Mr. Akin correcting the media's version of the new Pope, I would like to suggest that it is not really necessary. Is the media at times distorting what the Pope represents/says?'s the nature of the beast, both from a liberal and from a conservative perspective. That's always been the case.

However, the Pope is obviously an extraordinarily bright individual. I'm fairly confident he knows how he's being portrayed and what the media is saying, both positive and negative, both from the left and from the right. If he had a serious issue with it, if he felt things were way off base and needed to be corrected, he could call in representatives from the major media markets and correct these "false" impressions himself. I'm pretty sure it would be the lead story on FoxNews and MSNBC, in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He's not doing perhaps a "correction" or a "true representation" is not necessary. The Pope appears comfortable where things are at and will trust the people to be discerning.

May 1, 2014 at 8:10 am PST
#7  Peter Laffin - Boulder, Colorado

"Inequality is the root of social evil."
-Pope Francis, a couple days ago on twitter.

This is why so many conservative Catholics have trouble with him--he's a socialist and proud of it. The conservative Catholics conflate their politics with their religion, and can't stomach (or try in ridiculous, Stephen Colbert fashion to deny) his economic politics (even though they square perfectly with the Gospel.) He has made several other UNMISTAKABLE comments on this topic.

Now, the conservatives must decide as liberals have had to for years: Am I more obedient and devoted to my brand of American politics than I am to my holy father?

May 1, 2014 at 10:05 am PST
#8  Debbie Douglas - Fraser, Michigan

My apologies Michael and All here....I was "saved" 8 years ago into the Protestant faith and have been following this Catholic gal online for about 3 years or so. Through her writings I was inspired to dig deeper into my faith and have recently concluded that indeed The Catholic Church is the Church Jesus started and The Holy Spirit guides to all Truth. I will not again insert her writings here. Again, I do apologize...though I thought debate was a good thing. I do hold to Ms. Barnhardts "theory" that we do indeed have the Pope we deserve....that we a lucky in fact that He hasn't given us Pope Snoop Dog.

May 1, 2014 at 10:15 am PST
#9  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

It's obvious the secular has agenda, and one that is not friendly to the Catholic Church. We don't need Catholic Answers to tell us that hopefully. Ofcourse the media is taking advantage of the Holy Father's style. The fact is that his style is one that can be taken advantage of, whereas if he would stick to pre-written speeches and stop giving interviews, we wouldnt have near the mess we do now.

But honestly, it's a little disheartening that Catholic apologists always just want to blame the media for everything. Instead of looking at the fact that the Holy Father has said and done some things that the Church would have reprimanded him for in the past (to say the least). Take this video from "Rome Reports" for for example:

Here the Holy Father addresses a group of refugees (Christians and Muslims) and tells the Christians in the group that they should read the Bible for comfort, and then in the same breath, tells the Muslims in the group that they should read the KORAN for comfort!! And then tells the whole group, Christians and Muslims, that the faith their parents instilled in them will help them move on!

Now I ask, is the media responsible for this? NO. Unless the video is a complete fake, then we have the Vicar of Christ telling Muslims to turn to Islam and the Koran for help!

Now, as Catholics, we know, that Islam and the Koran deny Jesus Christ and the deny the Trinity, among other things. Islam is a false religion and the Koran is a false Holy Book. Am I wrong? Just read Robert Spencer's book "Not Peace but a Sword", you can find it on the Catholic Answer's webstore.

Folks, if you think I'm taking this out of context, the video speaks for itself. I'm not at all pleased by this, but it is a reality. If anyone would like to offer a rebuttal, I'm all ears. We need to pray for the Holy Father.

May 1, 2014 at 10:16 am PST
#10  Jeffrey Fish - Maple Grove, Minnesota

I'm not one to leave comments on blog posts, but I felt compelled to create a user account and post a comment in response to Debbie Douglas' comment, quoting an article by Ann Barnhart (here's a link to the original article:

I see zero evidence in the quoted article to support the claims that Pope Francis' sermonettes are 'rambling', 'incoherent', or 'embarrassing'. Has Debbie or Ann Barnhart actually listened to the full sermonettes? Can either of them site published accounts from individuals who have listened to the sermons and drew those inflammatory conclusions? If so, I would love to see those references so I can draw my own conclusions. If not, then the quoted material from Ann Barnhart is no better than the drivel on Pope Francis I see in the mainstream media - and I believe that's exactly the point Jimmy Akin is trying to make.

May 1, 2014 at 10:20 am PST
#11  Debbie Douglas - Fraser, Michigan

"Inequality is the root of social evil."
-Pope Francis, a couple days ago on twitter.

Wow...then it is a really, really good thing that I began my journey via Ms. Barnhardt's writings....otherwise I may just not have converted.

Governments forcing "equality" is not biblical. When government steals the fruits of your labor to give to those who do not wish to work and then claims this is compassion...what a load of pahooey. We GIVE to the poor and this is a very good thing for our souls..and when governments take to redistribute, this steals YOUR joy in giving. Of course, we can and should still give to the poor after governments take most everything from us...that is not the point.

And as far as I know...SIN has been at the root of all evil, up to and including "social" evil.

May 1, 2014 at 10:42 am PST
#12  Clinton Ufford - Sweet Home, Oregon

Good one Jimmy! Send it to the New york times, Rush Limbaugh and Piers Morgan!

May 1, 2014 at 2:41 pm PST
#13  Ron Arnold - Lexington, South Carolina

Debbie, I agree it is not the duty of government to care for the poor, It is the duty of Christians. That being said I can find no reference to the Pope saying that government should redistribute anything.

May 2, 2014 at 7:46 am PST
#14  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

Recent quotes from Fr. Longenecker on Pope Francis:

"When he [The Pope] behaves in this way he is causing confusion among the faithful. Should a pope interfere in the pastoral matters of an individual in another country? Shouldn’t it be the responsibility of the local pastor and bishop? Isn’t it a fair observation to ask why a pope who is all for downsizing the papacy, delegating and handing over to the people should then step in an get involved at a very local level? To ask these questions does not mean one is an arch conservative semi sedevacantist. It’s a matter of common sense."

"Furthermore, shouldn’t a pope realize he is pope and behave accordingly? No matter what the pope’s personal style and personal preferences, he is now the pope and whether he likes it or not, people hang on his every word and action. Yes, yes, we all know that a chat with reporters on a plane or a personal phone call by a pope are not infallible doctrinal statements. The problem is, a huge number of people in the world don’t realize that. Pope Francis should therefore understand that he is no longer Padre Bergoglio and learn that one of the greatest things a pope can do is to not do anything.

There is another problem with Pope Francis’ style which is lurking in the background which I have not heard anyone else commenting on, and it is this: if a person in a public role trivializes that role with a very personal and informal style, then when they want to make a formal pronouncement the chances are that they will not be taken seriously. Make enough gaffes and speak off the cuff enough and soon the world will consider everything you say to be a gaffe and all your pronouncements to be inconsequential, off the cuff matters of opinion."

May 3, 2014 at 11:53 pm PST
#15  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

Fr. Longenecker -

"The way things stand at the moment there are only two conclusions one can draw: first, that the Pope knows exactly what he is doing and the consequences of his style, and that it is his intention to weaken the authority of the papacy and bring it down to no more than the opinion of one person or second, that in this area of personal style and communications he is an amateur and he needs to stop, take stock, listen to the experts and reign in his style."

Catholic Answers staff, do you agree or disagree with Fr. Longenecker?

May 3, 2014 at 11:56 pm PST
#16  Debbie Douglas - Fraser, Michigan

Ron Arnold...then what is the meaning of the pope's tweet "Inequality is the root of social evil."?

May 6, 2014 at 12:18 pm PST
#17  Debbie Douglas - Fraser, Michigan

May 13, 2014 at 11:18 am PST
#18  Debbie Douglas - Fraser, Michigan

Again....we are very, very lucky Our Lord has not given us Pope Snoop Dog...the pope we so richly deserve.

May 13, 2014 at 11:19 am PST
#19  Michael Rogala - Chicago, Illinois

RE: Debbie Douglas --"Lord save us from former smokers and Catholic converts." Yes, I know I judged . . . and judged correctly!

August 11, 2014 at 4:18 pm PST

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