After two doctrinaire popes, it's a pleasure to have one who puts mercy ahead of dogma as Pope Francis did this week. In an interview with La Civilta Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit magazine, he criticized an emphasis on abortion, gay marriage and contraceptives at the expense of more important matters. Unfortunately, he doesn't challenge the Church's position on these issues—still a long way to go there—but he is at least saying the Church should be an inclusive one.
This move toward a church of mercy rather than condemnation will not be well-received in all quarters. Already some American bishops have expressed disappointment with the pope's lack of enthusiasm in addressing abortion, gay marriage and contraception. These, of course, are the same bishops who promoted Pope Benedict's crackdown on American nuns for putting social justice ahead of doctrine. It appears the nuns now have a champion, a friend in high places so to speak. A pleasing vindication.