I will tell you that reading these brief excerpts, I feel as if I’m on another planet. I can only imagine what my conservative sisters and brothers must be going through.
As a parent and a pastoral minister, I can relate to this reflection from Pope Francis’s younger days:
My authoritarian and quick manner of making decisions led me to have serious problems and to be accused of being ultraconservative. I lived a time of great interior crisis when I was in Cordova. … I have never been a right-winger. It was my authoritarian way of making decisions that created problems.
But this was the big surprise:
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.
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. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.
I say this also thinking about the preaching and content of our preaching.
What does this mean? I am not sure of it all myself. Is there no strength, no firmness to be found in orthodoxy?
David Gibson wonders about the staying power of a seventy-something pope. I don’t share those worries. I was not concerned during Pope Benedict’s time–at least not about his governance. Though I did disagree with some of it.
I’m perfectly satisfied to let God be God and to tend to my own designated area of the Lord’s household which I trust, is not made of cards. If we get two or ten years of Pope Francis, or however much, I will be older when this papacy is done and I will have a different perspective.
For now, I’m happy with the fresh and fragrant.
Update: the whole interview is available.