A handy primer on Pope Francis
David Gibson October 23, 2013 - 11:19am
The Zenit news agency summarizes a La Repubblica interview (that secular daily is rocking the Vatican beat) with Archbishop Victor Fernandez, director of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina and a theologian said to be "very close to the Holy Father." Many are trying to find a lens to communicate Francis to the world, and the church, and this seems as spot on as any effort I have seen:
The main point, said the theologian, is that “Francis thinks that a Church that wishes to come out of herself and reach everyone must adapt her way of preaching.” That is why “he applies a criterion that was proposed by Vatican II, which is often forgotten: the hierarchy of truth.” Because the problem is that often “the precepts of the moral doctrine of the Church are proposed outside the context that give them meaning,” which results in their “not manifesting wholly the heart of the message itself.”
And the archbishop specified: “For instance, if a parish priest speaks 10 times in a year about sexual morality and only two or three times about fraternal love or justice, there is evidently a disproportion.” And the same is true “if he speaks a lot against homosexual marriage and little of the beauty of matrimony.” Because if the invitation “does not shine with force and attraction, the morality of the Church runs the risk of falling like a pack of cards. And herein lies the greatest danger.”
About Pope Francis’ particularity, the archbishop said: “He is beyond the theological discussions of the Council,” because he is interested in continuing with the spirit of renewal and reform of the Church that comes from the Council itself. “That is why he is outside any ideological obsession” and has the intention to “lead the Church outside of herself to be able to reach everyone.”
The theologian also talked about the Pope’s preaching on poverty. “It is not love of sacrifice for itself or an obsession with austerity” but of interior stripping, “to put God and others at the center of one’s life.”
That makes sense to me, and may also explain why Francis is like a breath of fresh air to so many, and suspect to some others.