Going Further

After I read Cardinal Nichols’ brief pastoral letter on the recent family synod, I got the idea Pope Francis is operating on a totally different plane from some of his critics.

Cardinal Nichols pooh-poohs the idea the synod was a defeat in any way for the pope. That seems right. If Pope Francis is looking to conduct this as an advanced exercise in discernment, this is about how I might expect things to look. The cardinal seems to think so:

Pope Francis set the tone. He asked us to look reality in the eye; to speak openly from the heart; to listen humbly and respectfully to each other. This is what we did. There was no rancour, no contestation. There were disagreements, of course. But he told us to live through the experience with tranquility and trust. And we did. It was a marvellous experience of the Church as a family and of the Church, at this level, hard at work, trying to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and express them in carefully chosen words.

For people still operating in the country of the just, these words might be a bit provocative:

But Pope Francis went a little further. He spoke of ‘the Church composed of sinners…..that has doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent and not only the just.’ He spoke about the duty of pastors always to welcome into the Church those in difficult situations or in trouble. Then he corrected himself saying that we, as pastors, were not simply to welcome them but to go out and find them, just as the Good Shepherd did for those who had drifted away.

This is significant. We might not be placed to give the Eucharist to the needy, but we are urged to go out and find them. I can imagine some Catholics just throwing up their hands at that and say it would be just easier to invite the ones present to Communion.

I mentioned earlier today I think an adaptation from Dietrich Bonhoeffer is needed. What some of the conservatives are offering is little better than cheap rigor.

It seems we can do much better than that.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in bishops, Church News, Commentary and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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