An uproar has been raised over Pope Francis honoring Lilianne Ploumen, former Minister of Development for Holland, as a Commander in the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great. At first glance, the uproar seems entirely justified and the confusion and anger on the part of faithful Catholics merited. Ms. Ploumen is a notorious supporter of abortion, as well as a supporter of contraception and the LGBT agenda. When President Trump reinstated the Mexico City policy denying U. S. funds to international organizations that perform or promote abortions, Ms. Ploumen led the effort to replace the lost American funds with money gathered from other organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
A closer look reveals some gray in the midst of the seemingly black and white matter.
In June, 2017 King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of Holland visited the Vatican. They were accompanied by a diplomatic entourage, of which Ms. Ploumen was a member. All ten members of the diplomatic entourage received the same honor bestowed on Ms. Ploumen, apparently as part of a routine exchange of honors that accompany such visits. Vatican diplomatic officials also received honors from the Dutch government.
Paloma García Ovejero, deputy spokesperson of the Holy See Press Office, explained:
“The honor of the Pontifical Order of St. Gregory the Great received by Mrs. Lilianne Ploumen, former Minister of Development, in June 2017 during the visit of the Dutch Royals to the Holy Father, responds to the diplomatic practice of the exchange of honors between delegations on the occasion of official visits by Heads of State or Government in the Vatican. Therefore, it is not in the slightest a placet [an expression of assent] to the politics in favor of abortion and of birth control that Mrs Ploumen promotes.”
That’s all well and good, I suppose. Or, maybe not. For Ms. Ploumen is now showing off her medal and insisting that it was given her in recognition of her work promoting abortion for girls! She says, “The Vatican, especially under previous popes, had a rather rigid attitude when it came to girls’ and women’s rights.” By “girls’ and women’s rights,” Ms. Ploumen means “abortion.” I don’t know Ms. Ploumen, but given her animosity toward life and the moral teaching of the Church, my guess is that she knows exactly what she’s doing in exploiting her reception of this routine honorific to promote the false notion that the Catholic Church’s position on abortion is now more maliable and open than in the past. “It must be okay to be Catholic and support abortion,” Ms. Ploumen seems to be saying, “because the pope honored me for my work in doing just that!” Nothing could be further from the truth, but the truth is always the first casualty of war.
So, what is the result of this? An enemy of the Church gets to exploit an honor received as part of a head-of-state’s visit to the Vatican to discredit the Church’s teaching and raise doubts in the minds of the uninformed (and the press!) about the consistent application of that teaching by the highest offices of the Church. Catholics who are already eager to believe the worst about Pope Francis are handed a virtual megaphone from which to spew their hot air about how “this pope” is ruining the Church. Faithful Catholics, meanwhile, are scandalized, angry, frustrated, and bewildered. Does the official explanation help? Oh, I suppose so, though one is still left shaking one’s head at the absurdity of it all. Surely those who work in the Vatican’s diplomatic corps are not, or ought not be, diplomatic dullards. Could they not see this coming? If not, why not? If so, why not nip it in the bud and find some way of making sure Ms. Ploumen is never given the opportunity to exploit the pope’s polite diplomatic gesture? It really does baffle the mind.
Pray for Pope Franics. Pray for Lilianne Ploumen. Pray for women and girls considering abortion, and for the children in their wombs. Pray for an end to abortion. Then do what you can to work toward the end for which you pray.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.