I finally read the interview in America Magazine about Pope Francis that it seems the mainstream media is picking and choosing what they use for soundbytes. It’s a dense article but in such a way that it reminds me of a vegan brownie — I had to take my time to consume it and I had to break it down into small pieces because it was so incredibly rich.
So… this is the soundbyte that has people worked up.
??We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.
To my non-Christian friends: The Church’s stance on homosexuality, abortion, and contraception is remaining the same — they’re all sins according to the Catechism of the Catholic church. What the Pope is saying is that having a laser focus on any one of these issues is detracting from peoples’ ability to spread the Gospel. In Mother Teresa’s words, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” He’s calling for all of the Christians to walk along people and love them. I know I’m willing to listen to someone who has cultivated a relationship with me instead of someone who posts a screed about how pro-choice people are murderers and baby killers.
Some more from the article:
??I see clearly,?? the pope continues, ??that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds…. And you have to start from the ground up.
??The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all. 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 that. In pastoral ministry we must accompany people, and we must heal their wounds.
To my Catholic friends: I appreciate that you are passionate about your faith and about issues of life, death, etc. I’d like to suggest that people tone down their pro-life rhetoric because it seems from blog reading that all people talk about is abortion — I haven’t seen any mention of the fact that there were cuts to food stamps which means that there are going to be kids going hungry that may not be eligible for WIC. (I’m not saying that people haven’t mentioned that, just that I haven’t seen it as of yet.) That situation is a pro-life issue. The Pope hasn’t addressed abortion specifically because he has chosen to preach by example. The most recent one: a phone call to a woman who was pregnant out of wedlock and her boyfriend wanted her to abort the baby. He told her that he would personally baptize her baby if no other priest would do it. That speaks volumes to me about how he values life.
I can tell you as a Protestant hanging with Catholics that I honestly find myself more likely to listen to someone who is living their faith in their life and letting me be part of it. I have so many wonderful people that do that: Kelly, Cari, Katie/Kayla, Sara, Thomas, and others. These are bloggers who walk beside me and deal with me being the incredibly broken person I am. They evangelize with their blogs but they don’t pretend to be perfect which is why I can listen to them.
My two cents.