Maybe because of the new media, we are exposed to so much ugliness coming from Catholics who proclaim orthodoxy but promote mortal sins against the virtue of charity and directed toward the pope or imperfect Catholics who may be living in sin yet have a strong desire to be close to God.
As a pastor, my job is not to send anyone to hell but to act as a representative of Christ to seek the lost or straying and keep them close to Christ and His Church.
We are more successful using sugar rather than vinagar! We attract rather than repel. Pope Francis is bringing a pastoral approach to the magisterium that is important for the Church as she adjusts to the most significant cultural revolution since the Enlightenment and the 1960's.
This is what Cardinal WUERL thinks about the pope's soon to be revealed exhortation as reported by John Allen at Crux:
I think our response has to always be that for a Catholic, the rock is Peter. When I don’t understand something clearly … and I have to say, there are a lot of things I don’t understand clearly in the life and practice of the Church … but the touchstone is Peter. It’s been that way throughout all of my life.
I go back a long way, as Pius XII was pope when I was in high school. Every one of the popes has had something to say that somebody didn’t like, whether it was “Mater Si, Magistra No!” [a reference to a 1961 editorial in the National Review rejecting the teachings of Pope John XXIII’s encyclical Mater et Magistra], Pacem in Terris, Humanae Vitae …You name the pope, there’s been something that some people didn’t like.
I have to remind myself, it’s the teaching of the Catholic Church. The same spirit is guiding the Church in every different period of her life. The spirit doesn’t change, so you can’t pick and choose among popes and still claim to be Catholic.
If there is a cautious opening in the document to an “internal forum” solution for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, would that change much in terms of pastoral practice in the Archdiocese of Washington?
It would be very hard to tell, because of the essence of pastoral practice. When you’re counseling someone who is trying to arrive at a conscientious conclusion, it’s between the priest and the person. It’s not the same as the bond of the confessional, although a lot of that conversation takes place in the context of confession. The last one to hear about it would be anybody outside.
But if there is some opening in the document, would that amount to a pastoral revolution?
I don’t think it would. If this document says, look, there’s a lot of space … we have to be aware that the teaching doesn’t change, but pastoral practice has to be compassionate … and there’s space to try to put all of that together, I think we will find that many, many of the priests are already doing that.
It’s why these priests were saying with “The Light is On for You”, and why they’re saying with the “Francis effect,” that “this is what we do.” I don’t think it’s going to be a surprise.
Personally, I think it’s going to be quite subtle. It’s not going to be the dissolving of marriages in the confessional, it’s not going to be annulment, but it is going to be meeting people conscientiously where they find themselves to be. This is pastoral practice, which has been a part of the life of the Church from the beginning.