There’s something that you understand, which some people don’t. You understand that when I say that Sting was inspired in his song, “Every Breath You Take,” that doesn’t mean that I think that everything else about him rocks.
You get that, right?
It’s not that complex.
Even a person who is thoroughly mixed-up can have good motives and (therefore) great moments. The Holy Spirit can inspire anyone.
Nevertheless, it is so often the case that smug Catholics cannot handle it when the Catholic Church says something nice or otherwise honours people who are big in popular culture. When David Bowie died and the Church commented, some Catholics went nuts. They were disgusted that the Church spoke about him at all.
So, turning to John-Henry Weston, I say that he also doesn’t get it. His situation is worse, however, because he encourages others to criticize and distrust the Pope, in the name of Catholicism. JHW published on his website and in his magazine, an ill-willed piece against the Pope. It’s by Patrick B. Craine, and it’s called “Pope Francis’ award to Hollywood pro-abortion, anti-marriage advocates endangers the family.” The link is here.
In Patrick B. Craine’s narrow mind, it is wrong and scandalous for the Catholic Church to praise individuals for good work on various projects or initiatives if other aspects of their lives aren’t in keeping with Catholic teaching and values.
So let’s ramp this up. Here’s the recipe used by those who want to condemn the Pope or the Church. Bob and BettyLou are the stars of this one:
STEP ONE: Find an instance where the Pope is shaking hands with or smiling at or being near Bob or BettyLou. (Insert photo)
STEP TWO: Show that Bob and BettyLou are really very bad. In order to do this, go online to find photos of Bob with his wayward brother, or BettyLou posing wearing nearly zero. Find a film where Bob was pretending to be immoral, and find a quote where BettyLou said she disliked organized religion. (Don’t include the part where she says, like Salma Hayek did, that she believes in Jesus Christ.) Insert incriminating photos if possible.
STEP THREE: Suggest that the Pope wants Bob and BettyLou to be the face, in some way, of Catholicism.
STEP FOUR: State that a good person would not associate with Bob or BettyLou.
STEP FIVE: Conclude that the Pope is bad.
Patrick Craine’s article follows that pattern:
STEP ONE (evidence of togetherness): He focuses on an event on May 29, 2016, where Pope Francis presented an award (“Olive Medal for Peace”) to Richard Gere, George Clooney and Salma Hayek. Craine wasn’t in attendance, so Craine bases his opinion on what he can find about it online.
STEP TWO (Bob is bad): Craine provides quotes (also from online) which show George Clooney advocating for causes which go against Catholic teaching, and which show Salma Hayek criticizing specific actions of the Catholic Church (in an interview 9 years ago).
Now tell me, is it easy or difficult to show that a Hollywood actor has said and done things that are not in keeping with Catholic Church teaching? You’ll agree – in general, this is very easy. Thus we find that this easy thing has been accomplished by Patrick Craine. Alrighty.
STEP THREE (Pope promotes Bob): Craine downplays the fact that the conference was organized by people other than the Pope, and instead he makes every effort to closely link the Pope to the Hollywood actors. The truth is that the conference was set up by Scholas Occurrentes. Beginning in 2013, Scholas Occurrentes has been able to call itself a pontifical foundation.
Scholas Occurrentes’ website personally doesn’t turn me on, but maybe I just don’t know enough about how soccer and handprints in clay are going to bring about world peace. Nevertheless, I won’t blame the foundation for trying, and for spotlighting the actions of well-known people who have done some things in accordance with what is good. Carry on, is my thought. Patrick Craine, on the other hand, wants to make a federal case about the awards, and wants to impugn both the actors and Pope Francis. So he does not investigate how much distance there is between the givers of the award and Pope Francis. Instead, when you read what he has written, you are left with the erroneous impression that Pope Francis came up with these three actors himself. You picture Pope Francis in his armchair: “Hmm, which famous people should I praise?”
Uh, yeah. That’s just not how it would have happened.
Here are some of Craine’s quotations, drawing the link as tightly as possible:
- “Sadly, if we are to maintain integrity, we must say the same of the pope’s own educational charity.”
- “On May 29, Pope Francis presided over an event at Scholas Occurrentes, a pontifical foundation he founded, and awarded an Olive Medal for Peace to George Clooney, Richard Gere, and Salma Hayek at a publicized Vatican event.” (Do you see what I mean? You’d think that it was an event more about Pope Francis than about the organizers from Scholas Occurrentes.)
- He then repeats himself in this sentence: “The awards were given at the VI World Congress of Scholas Occurrentes, a foundation of pontifical right founded by Pope Francis in 2013.”
(Did you catch it that time? He is taking no chances here – Mr. Craine wants you to really notice that this organization is linked to Pope Francis. That’s essential, so that when he slams the bad actors, the pope will fall with them.)
- “We can hope that Pope Francis was ignorant as to the public stances of those he’s awarding.” In that sentence, the blurring is complete. You get the impression that Pope Francis personally chose these actors.
Patrick Craine makes the physical giving of the award the equivalent of a papal endorsement of everything the actors have said and done.
If you think I am accusing Patrick Craine of too much, then you haven’t seen the twisted reasoning on his blog. The following section is from a post where he loses his mind over Pope Francis receiving Angelina Jolie. Craine wrote:
On January 8, 2015, Pope Francis received actress Angelina Jolie in the room where he normally receives heads of States and ambassadors. The film Unbroken, recently released and directed by Jolie, was viewed at the Vatican by Prelates and Diplomats. She was invited to be present and, after its showing, she was received by the Pope. (News report here) Since Francis is known for his preference for symbolic gestures rather than official pronouncements, this reception of Angelina Jolie represents an endorsement of her entire career. It is an implicit affirmation that Francis objects to nothing in her past life. Now then, the actress’ career is known for two main characteristics: her proclivity for the occult/demonic and her bold immoral/porno poses for movies, magazines and photos. By receiving her, Francis not only blesses her occult-immoral career, but makes a strong blow against Catholic Morals. It is another attempt to destroy the Church from within. Something the external enemies never managed to achieve.
What a ridiculous mound of crap!
(With unintentionally bad grammar to boot.)
I find it very distasteful that he implies that Angelina Jolie is unfit to stand in a certain room – such snobbery! In the Pharisaical mind of Patrick Craine, the room is too good for her. The room, after all, is used for “heads of States and Ambassadors.” (He capitalizes whenever he thinks something is important, hence you’ll find him capitalizing “Prelates and Diplomats” and “Catholic Morals.”
The man needs an editor.
Oops — I guess he has one. My copy of the magazine identifies the editor as John-Henry Westen, whose last name sometimes appears printed as Weston. Methinks this editor needs an editor.)
Ah, but to get back on track, you can see the illogicality of Patrick Craine’s stuck-up rant. Pope Francis is not allowed to even greet the director of the movie that he has viewed. According to Craine, if the Pope meets with her, then he blesses her career and affirms that he objects to nothing in her past life.
I can’t believe that anyone with a brain would write such nonsense!
Don’t you get it, Patrick? Receiving someone (or even praising someone for one thing, whether it be a movie or a song, or a history of advocacy for trees) is most definitely not an endorsement of an “entire career” or an entire “past life”!
Where is your brain, Mr. Craine?
And here I should mention the word ‘ambassador.’ I cannot find, anywhere online, proof that Pope Francis (or Scholas Occurrentes, for that matter) has made these actors into ambassadors for Scholas. Maybe this is true, but I can’t confirm it using normal sources.
Mind you, I see that Patrick Craine’s hard-hitting research has taken him over to “The Hollywood Reporter.” The Hollywood Reporter used the word ‘ambassador’ according to Craine.
Hey Patrick! Let’s talk about your source.
I’ve never heard of “The Hollywood Reporter.” Do you find it to be a credible and reliable source for information about the Vatican and Catholic organizations? Are you endorsing everything ever written by The Hollywood Reporter when you rely upon and publicize this tidbit of possibly-correct data? By referring to this source, do you not embrace every image and every word put out there by this “Reporter” since its inception as being true and worthy of attention? Or do you consider it possible to rely on The Hollywood Reporter this one time, without giving a platform to it beyond your current needs?
Do you see the problem, Patrick?
Anyway, if Scholas Occurrentes and these actors have come to an agreement that they will work together to promote artistry in clay or kicking a ball, I have no objection. I’m not worried about it. I figure that if there is an ambassador arrangement in place at all, that relationship will be based on furthering the goals of Scholas Occurrentes.
STEP FOUR (Good people avoid Bob): This is the part where Mr. Craine talks about how good people know better than to be seen shaking hands or being near anybody who is bad:
- “As Catholic parents, we would have nothing to do with a school that chose a pro-abortion and same-sex ‘marriage’ activist like George Clooney as an ambassador.”
- He quotes from a document produced by the U.S. bishops in 2004: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”
I don’t mind this rule, but it’s an interesting stretch to use a local guideline to clobber the Pope. This rule prohibits awards which suggest support for a defiant action. But in giving these Olive Medals, Scholas Occurrentes was not supporting defiant actions. The reason for giving the award had to do with the actors’ activism against climate change, war and terrorism (Patrick Craine writes that he found that out from a Catholic website called Crux). The awards were not seals of approval upon every word and deed of their lives.
He reads the rule of the U.S. bishops too broadly, in assuming that ANY award serves to ‘suggest support’ for a person’s WHOLE life.
With Craine’s interpretation, I can’t imagine how any Catholic person, community or institution could give out any honours. Indeed, Catholics would be shackled in attempting to praise almost anyone.
And he goes on:
“By honoring activists like Clooney, Gere and Hayek, Pope Francis is undermining efforts by the Catholic faithful to preserve the faith. He’s making our job next to impossible.”
Ha ha ha!
The Pope is making Patrick Craine’s job next to impossible!
Have you lost your MIND, Patrick?
You complain that the Pope is GETTING IN YOUR WAY?
The audacity! The blindness! The arrogance!
Ah, this article is such a disaster. He attacks these three actors repeatedly, painting them all with the same brush: “All three Hollywood celebrities have a history of advocacy against the Church’s moral and social teachings.” And again: “Unfortunately, all three actors have a history of supporting causes to dismantle the traditional family and morality, including abortion and same-sex ‘marriage,’ both in their films and their public advocacy work.” To read this, you would think that these three people are really out to get the Catholic Church. He later calls them “the enemies of life and the natural family.” Yowzers. The man gets entirely carried away but he provides so little support for his labels. Regarding Richard Gere, no specific instances are given, and regarding Salma Hayek, he needs to go back nine years for one of his internet-derived quotations.
It is obvious that these actors are not as openly or as intentionally hostile towards the Church as Craine claims, because it would have been a simple matter for any of them to refuse the award. And obviously, nobody forced them to travel to Rome to attend the conference either, but there they were, dressed to the nines along with their spouses (girlfriend in the case of Richard Gere). They accepted, evidently supportive of the Pope and Schola Occurrentes. Good for them; I’m happy for them and annoyed by people like Craine, who presume to speak on behalf of faithful Catholics.
STEP FIVE (The Pope is bad): If the words above are not enough, Craine gives us more. In addition to claiming that Pope Francis’ presentation of these awards is “a grave scandal,” he writes:
The pope’s actions, though, are unfortunately much worse than merely adding extra burdens on the faithful. Vastly worse. For by honoring the enemies of life and the natural family, the pope is playing a part in the cultural destruction going on all around us. This is truly a scandal of immense proportion — much more damaging than Notre Dame’s Obama debacle – because it involves the endorsement of the Vicar of Christ himself.
And this is not all. Patrick Craine goes on to say that it does not matter what Pope Francis’ intention was.
Oh Monsieur Craine, you have no idea how wrong you are!
He says that even if the Pope were ignorant or misguided (these are Craine’s words, not mine), handing out these awards was still scandalous. (And here I note how frequently both JHW and Craine refer to Pope Francis as just “Francis.” In many cases, this wouldn’t be a sign of disrespect, but in their case, it is.) He writes as follows, once again equating the physical presentation of the awards with the selection of the recipients:
These awards are deeply concerning no matter what the intention in bestowing them. They may very well have been given in good faith, or even possibly as some sort of misguided faith outreach to the rich and famous. But, frankly, no good intentions can justify the scandal. We can hope that Pope Francis was ignorant as to the public stances of those he’s awarding. But no one will dispute that he has a responsibility to know.
Wait a minute. Did you say, Patrick, that “no one will dispute”? Well guess what? You’re wrong. Here I am and I’m disputing that Pope Francis has a responsibility to know what these actors have said and done. They are public figures, and the sheer volume of material that would have to be compiled and reviewed for veracity would make everyone’s job next to impossible. It is not your place to declare what is and what isn’t Pope Francis’ responsibility. A good argument can be made that all he has to know is where and when to show up. Isn’t he allowed to trust the organization that is choosing recipients for its awards? I think so. He needn’t second-guess every Catholic organization’s decisions, even if the organization is a personal favorite.
So leave him alone. I am sure, if we look back, that there were many instances where Catholic honours and awards were given to people who were ‘bad.’ And on that note, I am sure that all the popes and saints have stood near people who were viewed as ‘bad.’ I am sure of this. We just don’t have 2000 years’ worth of photographs.
But really, who are the bad ones?
If I know anything, it is that sometimes the ones with the blackest hearts lead what looks like unimpeachable lives. You won’t find immodest pictures of them online, and you won’t see them hanging out at the alternative lifestyle bar. You won’t, but judging is not as easy as that.
Who are the bad ones?
Jesus socialized with the tax collectors and the prostitutes.
The Pharisees complained.
Jesus’ apostles were fishermen who didn’t wash their hands.
The Pharisees complained.
Who are the bad ones?
Pope Francis hands an award to this actor and shakes the hand of that Lutheran.
Do you complain?
Pope Francis washes this prisoner’s foot and receives that actress.
Do you complain?
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15: 1,2)