In his first extended interview, the Pope says things like this:

The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.

We have to find a new balance, otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.

He is referring here to the tendency to be all abortion-and-gay-marriage, all the time. I think he is saying what Joseph Bottum is saying in his Commonweal piece on same-sex marriage. The problem is reenchantment, is transmission of the larger vision of what the Gospel is. I have some comments on Bottum’s piece and on two ways in which Catholic conservatives seem to misunderstand the importance of reenchantment – they are up over at

The issue here is not liberal vs. conservative, Benedict vs. Francis. The issue is a holistic, renewed sense of what it means to live the Gospel vs. piecemeal battles over isolated hot-button issues. Bring on the reenchantment program!


David Cloutier is an associate professor of theology at the Catholic University of America and the author of Walking God’s Earth: The Environment and Catholic Faith.

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