The following came in a mid-Jan. from a Northern Calif. correspondent.

On January 6, Catholic World News reported “The Vatican press office has decried attempts by some Italian journalists to portray a comment by Pope Francis as an opening to approval of same-sex unions.

In a November 29 address to religious superiors, which was made public by the Vatican last week, the Pontiff said that religious involved in the education of children should be aware that children today come from widely diverse households… Some Italian commentators claimed that the Pope’s words were a signal to Italian politicians, who are this week taking up a proposal to approve ‘civil partnerships.’ But Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, rejected that interpretation of the Pope’s talk as a “stretch,” and suggested that some journalists are manipulating the Pope’s words.”

The suggestion “that some journalists are manipulating the Pope’s words” is less a suggestion than an observable fact. The best-known example of the manipulation of Pope Francis comments stems from his July 2013 response to a question about Monsignor Battista Ricca. Monsignor Ricca had been accused of homosexual activities. One line from the Holy Father’s response “Who am I to judge?” has been repeated until, as of January 8, 2014, googling the phrase “who am I to judge pope francis” returns “about 35,500,000 results.”

The comment was repeated without mentioning Pope Francis’s initial point which was that whatever sins Monisgnor Ricca had engaged in were in the past, and, to the Pope’s belief, Ricca had converted: “But sins, if a person, or secular priest or a nun, has committed a sin and then that person experienced conversion, the Lord forgives and when the Lord forgives, the Lord forgets and this is very important for our lives.  When we go to confession and we truly say “I have sinned in this matter,” the Lord forgets and we do not have the right to not forget because we run the risk that the Lord will not forget our sins, eh?”

Also ignored was the fact that the Pope specified certain conditions which had be fulfilled before he (a son of the Church, as he has said) could get to the place where it would be possible to say “Who am I to judge?”  Here’s the context and the conditions: “I believe that when you are dealing with such a person, you must distinguish between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of someone forming a lobby, because not all lobbies are good. This one is not good. If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?”

So: once condition a) that the person is not part of a bad lobby (not promoting homosexuality) is fulfilled; and condition b) that a same-sex attracted person is honestly searching for God is fulfilled; then, under those conditions, the possibility c) is not only possible, but for a Catholic, probably obligatory: “Who am I to judge?” But only once the conditions are fulfilled.  For the Holy Father, all hinges on conversion. In other words, Pope Francis was judging.

But the manipulation was immediate: the July 29 New York Times, “On Gay Priests, Pope Francis Asks, ‘Who Am I to Judge?’”; the July 29 Huffington Post “Pope Francis On Gays: Who Am I To Judge Them?”; the July 29 USA Today “Pope Francis says he won’t ‘judge’ gay priests.”

The manipulation, or perhaps we should now call it the manipulation of the manipulation, continued.  In September of 2013 the Human Rights Campaign, posted a banner saying “Dear Pope Francis, Thank you.”  This, in spite of the fact that the Human Rights Campaign exists to promote same-sex “marriage” something the Holy Father called “a ‘move’ of the father of lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”  In December of 2013 the homosexualist Advocate magazine named Pope Francis man of the year. Since both organizations are textbook definitions of the “gay lobby,” which the Holy Father condemned as “not good,” the attempt to spin the Holy Father’s words for their own ends is obvious.

Father Lombardi is thus correct in scolding journalists for their deliberate distortions.  But for the salvation of souls it is more important that he scold the clergy who are also manipulating Pope Francis words—and in at least one case deliberately misquoting him.  On July 29, 2013 the Jesuit Father Thomas Reese wrote “Pope Francis made clear that being gay is not an impediment for ordination”–something nowhere found in Pope Francis statement.

More recently, in the December 29, 2013 parish bulletin of Christ the King Church in Pleasant Hill Calif., Father Brian Joyce actually put his own words in the Pope’s mouth, writing “Speaking of gay couples, he has said, “Who am I to judge.”  So now its “gay couples.”  That came in a column praising the new pontiff as an undreamed-for blessing to the Church. But if such “admirers” of Pope Francis really think so highly of him, why do they choose to lie about what he says?