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Friday, March 7, 2014

Pope Francis' Theological Approach

An English translation of Pope Francis' interview with Corriere Della Sera came out yesterday.  It's worth reading, but if you're looking for a good, short synopsis, check out John Thavis.

As a theologian, I found the most interesting part of the interview to be the question about Cardinal Kasper's address on the church's teaching on marriage and the family at the last consistory and the cardinals' reaction to it:

Why did Cardinal Walter Kasper’s report in the last Consistory (an abyss between the doctrine on marriage and the family and the real life of many Christians) generate so much division among the Cardinals? Do you think that the Church will be able to go through these two years of toilsome journey to come to a broad and serene consensus?

Holy Father: Cardinal Kasper made a beautiful and profound presentation, which will soon be published in German, in which he addresses five points, the fifth of which is that of second marriages. I would have been more worried if there hadn’t been an intense discussion in the Consistory, because it would have been useless. The Cardinals knew that they could say what they wanted, and they presented different points of view, which are always enriching. Open and fraternal debate makes theological and pastoral thought grow. That doesn’t frighten me. What’s more, I look for it. (emphasis mine)
I'm taken with the last three sentences - "Open and fraternal debate makes theological and pastoral thought grow. That doesn’t frighten me. What’s more, I look for it."  There are some within the church who are very uncomfortable with allowing an atmosphere of open dialogue and debate, wanting instead a church that clearly and decisively mandates what is true and right. Pope Francis makes it clear here that he prefers a "messy church" in which ideas and perspectives are exchanged publicly (I'm quoting here Fr. Michael Rogers, SJ, someone I follow on Twitter who works at the Vatican).  This is a theological approach that I find very encouraging, and shows how Pope Francis envisions collegial church governance to operate concretely.

Image from the National Catholic Register

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