The result of the referendum in Ireland must be admitted to be Pope Francis’ responsibility. Though he called it a ‘maneuver of the devil’ when the Argentinian government sought the blasphemous alteration, he did not cut through the ambiguity caused entirely by his easily taken-out-of-context ‘Who am I to judge?’ soundbite, which doubtless worked in the same way as the relatio at the preparatory synod last autumn. Low -information voters vote on what is most often repeated in the corporate press, and for most of the past 2 years these are the statements they are accustomed to hearing. Worse, the pope told the bishops of Italy in the past week to ‘Stop telling people what to do and fight graft’ – how were Irish voters to interpret such a message, not directly intended for them, but as permission to ignore their bishops’ words on the referendum? The bishops’ own failure articulate unambiguously that a yes vote would be the sin of sacrilege, direct approval of the violation of God’s primordial ordination, that the ill-instructed and scarcely admonished were able to tweet how they voted yes as Catholics.
There must be some Italian nun, or some modest poverty-vowed religious, who can reach the Holy Father with St. Catherine’s audacity and insist he be less loose and ambiguous in his words. He is, I’m afraid, doing the reverse of St. Paul who strove to present his hearers to God “without wrinkle or blemish”- Francis appears, as of today, to ha e presented an entire nation injured and muddied because he left it out in the world unattended.