The Year of faith has just ended with the proclamation “Christ is the center of the history of humanity and also the center of the history of every individual.” And today Pope Francis has released his first Apostolic Exhortation in which he encourages us to create the conditions in which all men may find Christ in an “event,” a personal encounter capable of bringing a “new horizon and a decisive direction.” Both Benedict and Francis have invested much in this event of the encounter with Christ, and have proposed it as the way that supersedes all ethical choices and lofty ideas. This is the new evangelization.
With this post I would like to examine a specific problem regarding the reception of Pope Francis’ teaching. Unfortunately, some have already pigeonholed Pope Francis as a liberal and are poised to parse his every word in that light. I would suggest his teaching ought to be approached not simply through an assessment of “lofty ideas,” but as an encounter—a personal opportunity in the here and now to accept a transformative grace. It is too soon for me to write anything in depth about the Apostolic Exhortation, but not too soon to suggest a manner of reception that will prove to be fruitful. And for that we need to avoid a serious pitfall. Continue reading →
I have sat back a bit to observe the reaction to Pope Francis’s interview with Father Antonio Spadaro. So far, I have only mentioned it briefly in my last post where the Holy Father touched upon a topic I was already working on. I do not think anyone is surprised that pundits on the far left and right have interpreted the Holy Father’s remarks as expressing freewheeling liberalism. Neither is it surprising that those loyal to the Holy Father have dedicated most of their time to clarifying what the Holy Father actually said. Hopefully, now more time will be spent assimilating his words without fear of receiving or conveying the wrong message.
I think Pope Francis in the interview is perceived by many commentators the way he must be by the Vatican Police who are constantly challenged in their efforts to maintain a parameter of safety around this man who is of the people, and who finds it necessary to relate directly with them. The Vatican police must wonder if the Holy Father is aware of the danger, because he does not seem to show it. On the contrary, from his contact with the people as well as from his teaching and example, it seems that Pope Francis sees a greater danger in not taking such risks. Continue reading →