In two groundbreaking interviews, one with Jesuit newspapers around the world and another with an atheist newspaper editor, Pope Francis has rattled some Catholics with his strong emphasis on healing and mercy. Some take it as a dismissal of the Church’s moral teachings, or at best a belittling of them. Others worry the Pope is too soft on spiritual or liturgical norms.
But as Fr. Robert Barron points out, the Pope’s strategy of leading with mercy instead of law is often a far more effective approach:
“The Pope is not suggesting that rules—moral, spiritual, liturgical, etc.—are unnecessary or unimportant, but he is indeed suggesting that they are secondary to the central reality of encountering the living Christ…
If I might proffer a perhaps trite analogy: when attempting to attract a young kid to the game of baseball, you don’t begin with the rulebook; rather, you begin with the beauty and majesty and rhythm of the game—and then you trust that he will come in time to understand the nature and purpose of the rules from the inside…
What we find today, the Pope is implying, are millions of people who are, in the spiritual sense, gravely wounded. They are alienated from God, stuck in the no-man’s land of moral relativism, adrift with no sense of direction, and tempted by every form of errant desire. They require, therefore, not the fine points of moral doctrine, but basic healing.”
Read the rest of Fr. Barron’s article, “The Field Hospital is Open: Reflections on Pope Francis’ Interview”, or watch his video commentary below.
(If you can’t see this video, click here.)