I really like Pope Francis. I’m not a Catholic nor will I ever be, but I admire his grounded faith. And I’m sad about the way the media has pounced on him after a recent interview. Oh how we love to “spin” what we hear or read.
Pope Francis has not had much to say about hot-button issues like homosexuality, abortion, gay marriage, divorce, etc. Why? He said that when trying to win hearts to Christ the important thing is to focus “on the essentials, on the necessary things.” And what is essential in Pope Francis’ opinion?
“We need to proclaim the Gospel on every street corner,” the pope says, “preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing, even with our preaching, every kind of disease and wound.”
This is controversial, apparently. A pope suggesting that the church focus on winning people to Christ then looking for them to change their behavior. Here’s the lead from a story that ran on Minnesota Public Radio: “In an interview published Thursday, Pope Francis urged the Catholic Church to put less focus on its views of abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception, or he said it might ‘fall like a house of cards.'”
And that’s pretty much how most media outlets wrote about the interview. Not talking about what the pope is calling the church TO do–save souls–but focusing on the tidbit that sounds like it might be an opening for a more liberal church. It’s a 12,000-word article folks. There’s a lot in there, but there’s nothing that redefines sin from a Catholic point of view.
I think this sentence is at the heart of what Pope Francis hopes for the church: “The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.”
Share the Gospel–let God change hearts. Now that sounds right.
If you’d like to read the full interview (and I recommend it!) you can find it in America Magazine. The section that references those hot button issues everyone is hung up on is under “The Church as Field Hospital,” but don’t stop there. His comments about prayer at the end of the interview are very comforting.