Pope Francis has not mentioned traditional hot-button Catholic issues like abortion because he prefers to emphasize that Catholics “love people” and are not “mean or old-fashioned,” Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley has said.
O’Malley, the only North American Francis asked to serve on a group of eight cardinals advising him on reforming the church, made the comments during a keynote address Tuesday in San Antonio at the annual convention of the Knights of Columbus.
“Some people think that the Holy Father should talk more about abortion,” O’Malley told approximately 2,000 attendees, according to a copy of the remarks posted online.
“I think he speaks of love and mercy to give people the context for the Church’s teaching on abortion,” he continued. “We oppose abortion, not because we are mean or old fashioned, but because we love people. And that is what we must show the world.”
O’Malley’s focus on explaining the pope’s lack of abortion talk may be seen by some as a reaction by the cardinal to recent reports that some American Catholics have been underwhelmed by the new pope’s emphases, which have also not highlighted other more controversial Catholic teachings on issues like gay marriage or divorce and remarriage.
From text posted on the Knights of Columbus website:
Recently I read about an American relief worker in Africa, who reported on being at a camp for a food distribution line, it was very chaotic, even scary. He could see that they were running out of food and that these starving people were desperate. At the end of the line, the last person was a little nine year old girl. All that was left was one banana. They handed it to her. She peeled the banana and gave half each to her younger brother and sister. Then she licked the banana peel. The relief worker said at that moment he began to believe in God.
We must be better people; we must love all people, even those who advocate abortion. It is only if we love them that we will be able to help them discover the sacredness of the life of an unborn child. Only love and mercy will open hearts that have been hardened by the individualism of our age.
…The Church’s teaching is about loving and caring for everyone. In his talk to the Brazilian bishops last week, Pope Francis said: “We need a Church capable of rediscovering the maternal womb of mercy. Without mercy we have little chance nowadays of entering the world of wounded persons in need of understanding, forgiveness and love.” The Holy Father alludes to Cardinal Kasper’s work on mercy when he says that mercy without truth would be consolation without honesty and is empty chatter.
On the other hand, however, the truth without mercy would be cold, offputting and ready to wound. The truth isn’t a wet rag that you throw in someone’s face, but a warm cape that you wrap around a person, to protect and strengthen them.