Recently a noted Bishop stood before a group of Catholic couples, a rather traditional lot devoted to the Blessed Mother, and rather boldly in violation of political correctness said,   “The family – as God wants it, composed of a man and a woman for the good of the spouses and also the generation and education of children – is deformed by powerful contrary projects supported by ideological colonization.” [1]

The Bishop was Pope Francis, speaking September 10, to an international gathering of “Teams of our Lady” a group dedicated to strengthening married couples and their children through prayer and devotion to Our Lady.

He went on to tell them that traditional marriage “must be witnessed to, announced and communicated externally, so that others, in turn, take the same path,” [2]

You will not likely hear this message of the Pope in secular media, and even in certain areas of Catholic media because it does not fit the narrative of Pope Francis they have fashioned of a bold reformer, at odds with Catholic dogmas and also set against conservative, “intransigent” theologians that are “mean” and “harsh,” not to mention “unloving.” 

And yet Pope Francis has said many similar things about Holy Matrimony.

The phrase and concept of “ideological colonization” is particularly bold. And while I do not speak for Pope Francis, to my mind the phrase means that those who seek to redefine (actually “un-define”) marriage and family are ideologues, possessed of a will to sow the seeds of their ideology in the Lord’s field  (cf Matt 13:25). It is not enough for them to depart from the true faith or natural law themselves. They seek “converts” and to undermine the very notion of family everywhere.

They agitate in the public square to be sure, in our courts, and in the secular media. Public Schools and many Universities in the U.S. are increasingly little more than centers of indoctrination in many of the dubious, deceived,  and devilish notions that attack the meaning of human sexuality, and exult endless options for family structure, “gender” and even the notion of what it means to be human. Yes, there are indeed many “colonies” at work in the public square.

But in the Church too there is colonization. So many who have departed from the received biblical, ecclesial and natural law teachings, are not content merely to depart and say they no longer believe. Rather they seek to sow the seeds of their errors in the Church. We have surely seen how certain teachers of erroneous and dissenting teachings gain students and adherents. Perhaps they publish books, or set up shop in universities. In effect they set up colonies of dissent which then agitate for “change” and further dissent.

Thus the image of “ideological colonization” is a powerful one and calls such work contrary to the plan of God for marriage and family.  The Pope says the effect of this is to deform the family. Thus there is no talk here of “alternative” family structures, just the one that is according to God’s plan and those that are deformed by ideological colonization. 

There is very clear teaching here. I am aware that Pope Francis is a complex figure, and some of his statements seem ambiguous or require clarification. But this is not one of those occasions.  His message is clear and simple. There is God’s plan, and there is a deformed plan. There is the truth of Scripture and ideological variances from it.

The secular media will filter the Pope’s message here, for the reasons stated. But, we who are Catholic ought not do so. The Pope’s message is frank and clear and it ought to be repeated everywhere we can.

The Pope as chief Shepherd and Pastor speaks the truth here, but also encourages us to reach out to families which are in crisis. He told these same couples to defend God's design for the family as the union of a man and woman for the procreation of children, but also urged them to reach out to those whose marriages have failed. Here too Pope Francis used strong language to exhort:

“Nor must you forget the unspeakable suffering of the children who experience these painful family situations: you can give a lot to them.” [3]

Here too this “offends against political correctness” which holds that children are not all that affected by adult misbehavior and might even benefit from alternative family settings. Remarks like this also deviate from the Francis the secular media is trying to construct. So don’t expect a lot of coverage of these remarks from them.

But we of the house of faith ought to note these remarks well. If the popular Pope can speak in these colorful ways and make a frank assessment of what is right and wrong, what is truth and what is ideology, why not us all of us too?

Simply put, to quote Pope Francis: “The family – as God wants it, composed of a man and a woman for the good of the spouses and also the generation and education of children.” To posit anything else is deformed. Further, to intentionally subject children to anything less that this proper Godly structure is an injustice. It is deformation rooted in ideology. It is not God’s plan as revealed in Scripture and Natural Law.

Clear and freshly bold.