Denver, Colo., Nov 7, 2013 / 03:46 pm (CNA).- In a new column for CNA, a theology professor and author says that the Pope’s recent interviews need to be understood in light of his missionary vision for the Church rather than as individual declarations.
“The key to interpreting Pope Francis’ statements properly is found in his vision for the Church,” Dr. Edward Sri, professor of scripture and theology at the Augustine Institute, said in his most recent column, “Making sense of Pope Francis: Christian ambition in evangelization and the humility of dialogue.”
The Holy Father’s seemingly off-the-cuff comments about moral issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and contraception have been both “celebrated” and “feared” as a “radical departure from Catholic moral teachings on the matters.”
However, Dr. Sri wrote, rather than drawing conclusions from sound bites of Pope Francis’ interviews, people should consider his overall vision for the Church, which seems to be one of missionary outreach.
“The Holy Father says he wants a Church that doesn’t just open its doors to others, but goes out to the world: to those Christians who are indifferent, to the Catholics who stop going to Mass, and even to unbelievers like Eugenio Scalfari,” Dr. Sri said, referring to the Holy Father’s Oct. 1 interview with the prominent atheist journalist.
Dr. Sri recalled the Pontiff’s analogy of the Church as a field hospital charged with treating critical injuries in order to save a patient’s life. Only after the “most serious wounds” are addressed can the doctor move on to “other aspects of living a healthy life.”
He explained that when it is separated from the “context of God’s loving plan of salvation,” Church teaching can appear to be nothing more than “arbitrary rules from a bygone era being imposed on people today.”
Now that we live in a secular culture, more people than ever need to be exposed to the love and mercy of God before they can be expected to live out Christian morality, which is a “response to God’s love for us and our life in Jesus Christ.”
The Pope’s comments are a sign of “a new emphasis” in how the faith should be proclaimed in the “missionary territory” that is the post-modern world.
“(People) need the initial proclamation of the Gospel to understand the context of the Church’s moral teachings,” the professor explained. “And they need the hope and encouragement that grace gives the person to pursue (Read More)