Do your Catholic Homework

Study before a computer

Do your Catholic Homework


Has anyone asked you your opinion on Pope Francis saying ______?

I can count several times I've been asked this question on different occasions. One of the most recent occasions was the Pope's interview in America, which was totally spun out of control by most mainstream media outlets.

Rather than get into the ins and outs if what was said, and how it was misunderstood or even deliberately misinterpreted, I would like to issue a challenge:

Whenever a controversy arises about something the pope has said, before you weigh in on it, do your homework.

In our rush rush world, There is a great temptation to look for someone else's opinion about something we don't want to bother to read ourselves. It's important to catch this tendency and call it out for what it is: laziness.

Now I know you're busy. I'm busy sometimes, too. I'm a stay-at-home dad with almost 4 kids under 5 years-old (#4 coming any time now). I get busy. Sometimes I feel like my wife and I should try to get a patent on busy!

But this is important, right? In this day and age, any time someone asks you to comment on something about the Catholic Church, you gotta treat that like a golden opportunity.

Maybe that opportunity comes and you haven't heard about or read about what they are asking you. If this is the case, as with any apologetical situation like this, tell them you haven't read about that yet, but you will do so and follow up with them. Nobody will fault you for this. Think about it, it's like you're telling them "Your question is important enough to me to do some homework for." i.e. "You are important enough for me to do some homework for." 

Now remember this person and this question. They didn't ask you what time the movie was playing, or what the weather will be like on the weekend, or how much the Leafs beat the Canucks by. They asked you to address doubt they have about the credibilty of the Church.

Can you make time for that? 

Here are 3 practical homework tips:

  • Open the original-source interview in question and read it. If you don't finish it in one sitting, keep it open in your browser and come back to it and finish it later. Don't quit on it because it's long.
  • Pick a set time of the day/week where you read up on things Pope Francis is saying. If the secular media is willing to listen so closely, shouldn't we do so all the more?
  • Get The Pope App on your iPhone, and subscribe to the Rome Reports and Catholic News Service channels on You Tube.


If you're still needing clarity on something Papa Francis has said after (AFTER) you do your homework, I'd personally recommend Jimmy Akin's blog. He quite incisively attacks presuppositions and misinterpretations and offers a broader context in which quotes can be understood. (He also neatly compiles everything the pope says, including Tweets, in one weekly blog post, The Weekly Francis) 

The world is still extremely intrigued by Pope Francis. There is a great potential for teaching moments at this time. What we need is a large community of young people who are engaged in what he is saying and are willing to talk about it.

Share: Here are some of my favorite excepts from one of his recent interviews. When you finish your homework, share some of yours below.

"The ministers of the Gospel must be people who can warm the hearts of the people, who walk through the dark night with them, who know how to dialogue and to descend themselves into their people’s night, into the darkness, but without getting lost."

“I see clearly that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds.... And you have to start from the ground up."

“Instead of being just a church that welcomes and receives by keeping the doors open, let us try also to be a church that finds new roads, that is able to step outside itself and go to those who do not attend Mass, to those who have quit or are indifferent. The ones who quit sometimes do it for reasons that, if properly understood and assessed, can lead to a return. But that takes audacity and courage.”

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