Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pope Francis, Forgive My Hardness of Heart



Pope Francis:
 
Pope Francis recently gave an extended interview to a Catholic journal that initially disheartened me. Pope Francis suggested that perhaps the Church has focused too much on certain Catholic beliefs--abortion, gay marriage, and birth control in particular. "The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent," he said in the interview. "The church's pastoral ministry cannot be 
obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently."


"Proselytism is solemn nonsense," Pope Francis said in another interview. "It makes no sense." But then Pope Francis emphasized there is a difference between the solemn nonsense of proselytizing and evangelizing.  "I believe I have already said that our goal is not to proselytize but to listen to the needs, desires, and disappointments, despair, hope."

I admit that I profoundly misunderstood the Pope's message, which I misinterpreted to mean that Catholics are to cease their witness  on core Catholic issues--abortion, for example. I feared his words were a signal that the Church should drift toward accommodation with postmodernism.

Kathy Schiffer's blog on the Pope's words helped me toward a proper understanding of the Pope's words.

And I also admit that I had a deeper insight about the Pope's words--perhaps even a revelation--when I read that the Pope has called for a synod to discuss divorce and remarriage.  Apparently the heart of the Church's examination of this painful issue will be an emphasis on forgiveness. "The church is a mother, and she must travel this path of mercy for all," the Pope said.

I am a divorced Catholic and I long for a Church response that will help me heal this wound. I am now confident that Pope Francis will guide a Church initiative that will lead to forgiveness and healing for millions of divorced Catholics.

And I see now that all his pronouncements in recent weeks have been made out of a spirit of love and forgiveness for all of us--Catholics and non-Catholics, regardless of our experiences, our sexual orientation, our participation in a sinful world.

God bless you, Pope Francis. Forgive me for my hardness of heart.

References

Catholic News Service. Pope calls synod to discuss divorce and remarriage. The Texas Catholic, October 11, 2013, p. 1.

Laurie Goodstein. Pope, Criticizing Narrow Focus, Calls for Church as 'Home for All'. New York Times, September 20, 2013, p. 1.

Laurie Goodstein. Pope Says Church 'Obsessed"  with Abortion, Gay Marriage and Birth Control. New York Times, September 19, 2013. Accessible at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/20/world/europe/pope-bluntly-faults-churchs-focus-on-gays-and-abortion.html

Bruce Nolan. Pope: 'Ministers of church must be ministers of mercy.' The (Baton Rouge) Advocate, September 20, 2013, p. 1.

Kathy Schiffer. Prosletyze NO, Evangelize YES, said Pope Francis.  Seasons of Grace blog site, October 2, 2013. Accessible at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kathyschiffer/2013/10/proselytize-no-evangelize-yes-said-pope-francis/

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