20 September 2013

You're making progress, Francis

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.

He may be simply recognizing that hammering on these issues changes nobody's mind but is simply divisive and alienating and does nothing to achieve the Church's major purpose of introducing people to Christ's message. Or in his words, "The Church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the Church must be ministers of mercy above all."

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.

1 comment:

  1. Bill, as a decidedly lapsed Protestant, I was introduced to Jesuits in my undergrad and law school and, from the get to, could never understand how they fit in to the RC church.

    I did Latin American studies under one Fr. Emile Korth, a German Jesuit, who spent many years down there until he was deported for distributing condoms on a public bus. Mind like a straight razor and a moral compass that always stayed true. Most that I spent any time with paid lip service to the Holy See but not much else. And, did I mention, they knew how to drink?