While this teaching is likely to get far less press that his statements on hot-button issues, it actually represents something much more fundamental about the pope’s vision of the moral life. A shift to the Beatitudes would be a shift not so much in moral content, but in the framing of the moral life. This is especially important for base-level moral catechesis that goes on in preaching and religious education at the parish level. It promotes a vision of the moral life as a “morality of happiness,” rather than a “morality of obligation,” to use the contrast of the Dominican moral theologian Servais Pinckaers.
What would it take to shift Christianity to a Beatitudes-based practical spirituality/religiosity? To consider our lives from a view of the imitation of Jesus, and reflecting deeply on being poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungry for justice, merciful, pure of heart, peacemakers, and unjustly persecuted?
Would we, for instance, celebrate more of our victimhood in sadness, or presume that when others block us from our desires, that it is unjust? Personally, I struggle with mercy a lot when dealing with myself. And with making peace online. And obviously, meekness. Those three could exhaust my whole life. And maybe they should.