Pope Francis has caused a stir with his comments in a recent interview. Overall he was making the point that “the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives.” In explaining this he made statements including the following:
- “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."
- “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.”
Full interview available here
What do you think of Pope Francis’ statements? Does the Church, in particular the Church in America, focus too narrowly on moral issues instead of proclaiming God’s saving power? Please share your comments, that is the purpose of this blog. And please show respect to the Pope, who has given his life to serve God and us.
To kick off the discussion: I agree with Pope Francis’ message of preach salvation first, then catechize about moral imperatives, but I disagree that the Church should speak less about moral issues.
First, many Catholics in America do not know the reasons behind the Church’s position on same-sex marriage and contraception. And already it is extremely rare to hear a homily about a particular moral issue. There needs to be more catechesis, not less.
Second, by stating that the Church should not be “obsessed” with teaching moral doctrines, the Pope seems to be downplaying the reasons behind the rules. The Commandments are not requirements we follow merely to prove allegiance to God, but a guide on how to live happier by being unencumbered by sin. Although difficult to do effectively, teaching morality in the right way should attract people to God---like preaching about mercy and salvation also does.