Thursday, 19 September 2013

A Big Heart Open to God

This is the title under which Thinking Faith have published the long interview with Pope Francis.

Read it directly yourself, and do not rely on extracted quotations which, when read in their place in the whole, might not at all convey the meaning that they gain in isolated quotation.

And read the whole. It is quite fascinating. And there are some particularly beautiful choices of phrase.
The confessor, for example, is always in danger of being either too much of a rigorist or too lax. Neither is merciful, because neither of them really takes responsibility for the person. The rigorist washes his hands so that he leaves it to the commandment. The loose minister washes his hands by simply saying, "This is not a sin" or something like it. In pastoral ministry we must accompany people, and we must heal their wounds.... 
The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord's mercy motivates us to do better.. 
And the passages which, when quoted out of the context of the whole, make it look as if Pope Francis is downplaying doctrine or the Church's moral teaching .... Well, a number of them are passages in which Pope Francis is talking about the first stage of evangelisation as taught in, for example the Vatican II decree Ad Gentes, Pope Paul VI's Evangelii Nuntiandi or in the Directory for Catechesis, the stage of "primary proclamation". And seen in that context, the affirmation of the need to focus on the central mystery of God's love for us does not at all imply a rejection of doctrine or moral teaching but rather an appropriate placing of them in the Church's missionary effort. If one is looking for a single recurring motif in the interview, it is that of a "primary proclamation" of God's mercy.

UPDATE: George Weigel appears to understand Pope Francis' interview in the same way, though placing it within the background of Pope Francis' previous pastoral experience: The Christ-Centered Pope.

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