JP II, Benedict and Francis: On the Same Page

In case it’s not clear, this:

This man [Note: JPII is speaking of each and every person in the worldis the way for the Church–a way that, in a sense, is the basis of all the other ways that the Church must walk–because man–every man without any exception whatever–has been redeemed by Christ, and because with man–with each man without any exception whatever–Christ is in a way united, even when man is unaware of it: “Christ, who died and was raised up for all, provides man”-each man and every man- “with the light and the strength to measure up to his supreme calling”

Since this man is the way for the Church, the way for her daily life and experience, for her mission and toil, the Church of today must be aware in an always new manner of man’s “situation”.

– JP II, Redemptor Hominis

means the same as this:

“I remember, when I used go to Germany in the 1980s and ’90s, that I was asked to give interviews and I always knew the questions in advance. They concerned the ordination of women, contraception, abortion and other such constantly recurring problems. If we let ourselves be drawn into these discussions, the Church is then identified with certain commandments or prohibitions; we give the impression that we are moralists with a few somewhat antiquated convictions, and not even a hint of the true greatness of the faith appears. I therefore consider it essential always to highlight the greatness of our faith – a commitment from which we must not allow such situations to divert us.”

– Pope Benedict XVI, Address to Swiss Bishops 2006

means the same as this:

We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.

“This is also the great benefit of confession as a sacrament: evaluating case by case and discerning what is the best thing to do for a person who seeks God and grace. The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better. I also consider the situation of a woman with a failed marriage in her past and who also had an abortion. Then this woman remarries, and she is now happy and has five children. That abortion in her past weighs heavily on her conscience and she sincerely regrets it. She would like to move forward in her Christian life. What is the confessor to do?

“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. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. 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.

– Pope Francis

And those guys are just getting it from Paul, who insists that the Law cannot save and can only tell you what’s wrong with you.  And he just gets that from Jesus, who insists that the law was made for man, not man for the law and that only he, not the law, can save.

Here’s the thing about Popes: They don’t really say anything novel, though they will often surprise you and say something old in a new way.

That’s kind of a gospel thing, saying old stuff in a new way:

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new commandment, which is true in him and in you, because * the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. (1 John 2:7-8)

HT: Kevin O’Brien and Joe Grabowski for the B16 quote.

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