Dr Jeff Mirus
So now certain “conservative” Catholics are up in arms about the “liberalism” of Pope Francis. They are alarmed especially by the views he expressed in his recent interview. They have mounted their high horses and charged forward to chastise the Pope.
They are particularly incensed by the following comments:
We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods…. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples of Emmaus…. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.
A beautiful homily, a genuine sermon must begin with the first proclamation, with the proclamation of salvation. There is nothing more solid, deep and sure than this proclamation. Then you have to do catechesis. Then you can draw even a moral consequence. But the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives.
So there it is. Even quite a few Catholic commentators have publicly proclaimed that this sort of shilly-shallying is not to be tolerated. Pope Francis must feel the wrath of the true faithful. After all, his properly traditional predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, would never have said anything like this. Unlike Francis, they loudly claim, Pope Benedict stated the Church’s moral teachings at every turn and never permitted the kind of misunderstanding that Pope Francis stirs up so often—so often that we must conclude there is something wrong with his faith!
But perhaps these same pundits were not present on November 9, 2006 when Pope Benedict said the following to the Bishops of Switzerland (both the Vatican and CatholicCulture.org posted the full text at the time):
I remember, when I used go to Germany in the 1980s and '90s, that I was asked to give interviews and I always knew the questions in advance. They concerned the ordination of women, contraception, abortion and other such constantly recurring problems.
If we let ourselves be drawn into these discussions, the Church is then identified with certain commandments or prohibitions; we give the impression that we are moralists with a few somewhat antiquated convictions, and not even a hint of the true greatness of the faith appears. I therefore consider it essential always to highlight the greatness of our faith — a commitment from which we must not allow such situations to divert us.
Kind of lets all the hot air out, doesn’t it?