Robert Moynihan has his take on Pope Francis’ important remarks to the diplomatic corps today:
What Francis said today was critical, and should be read carefully by all who want to understand “where he is coming from.”
So far, the “pundits” — and really, all of us — have been “circling” Pope Francis, like the group of blind men circling the elephant, one touching the rope-like tail, one the smooth, sheet-like ear, one the hard, ivory tusk, all “seeing” only a small part… none seeing the whole.
One pundit notes the Pope’s simplicity, his actual poverty, his love for the poor, and says (wrongly): “He is the people’s Pope, the Pope of the poor, so… he is a liberal, he may very well be a social revolutionary, a ‘liberation’ Pope… and perhaps also breaking with Church teaching on sexual matters…” Another pundit notes that Francis has strongly defended Church teaching on the family, on sexual morality, and says (wrongly) “he is a conservative, he won’t ‘rock the boat’ at all…”
Francis cannot be captured by these political categories.
He transcends them.
As Jesus transcended all categories, reaching out to sinners — and all are sinners — but also, asking them not to sin. Loving the sinner, but not the sin…
As Pope Benedict transcended all categories. Ceaselessly reminding all of us that our destiny transcends all worldly categories, that we are made for eternity, not just for time…
Perhaps it is time that we should all say that there are not “conservative” and “liberal” or even “traditional” and “orthodox” Catholics at all, just simply “Catholics” in a universal Church, stretching backward to the first days of the Church and forward to the end of the world in time, and global in space, unable to be described rightly by these secular categories.
So today, Pope Francis, powerfully, set his course, transcending the “left” and the “right” and pointing all of us toward higher things.
It was the first, great “programmatic” discourse of his pontificate.
His central thrust today was: (1) don’t try to confine me, or reduce me and my message, to worldly categories; and (2) don’t try to separate me from my predecessor, Benedict.
These messages were powerful, fundamental and… needed.
Photo: CNS/Tony Gentile, Reuters