Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity". Pope Francis/Pope Benedict
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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Pope Francis is a pastoral man of action

From Sandro Magister on Cardinal Bergoglio prior to his election to the Supreme Pontificate: 

Bergoglio has never been a theologian, much less an academic. Among the theologians he says that he likes Henri De Lubac and Michel de Certeau. But not because he has assimilated the overall positions of the two, which moreover are very different. He almost always cites only one of De Lubac's books, "Meditations on the Church," and almost always only one passage from this: that against the "worldliness" of the Church.

Also as pope he is above all a man of action, of pastoral action. Those who have known him up close and have been friends with him for years - like the twenty interviewed for the book by Alejandro Bermúdez - see in him exceptional qualities of command and noteworthy strategical abilities. None of his actions, none of his words, is ever left to chance. And his priority is the pastoral care of the "people" entrusted to him, who since he has become pope have been extended to the whole world.

His preaching is intentionally suited to this profile. It is primarily addressed to the common people, to the weak in faith, to the sinners, to the faraway. Not as a whole, but as if the pope would like to speak one-on-one with each of them.

Just as in the Gospel Jesus is very demanding in the commandments but turns to individual sinners with mercy, so also Pope Francis wants to be.

On disputed questions, on birth, on death, on procreation, he is of undisputed doctrinal orthodoxy: "The view of the Church is known and I am a son of the Church," he bluntly stated in the interview with "La Civiltà Cattolica."

But he leaves the exposition of doctrine to others, and reserves for himself the merciful style of the care of souls.

The most striking example of this joint action came a few days ago, when on the disputed question of communion for divorced and remarried Catholics Pope Francis set to work the prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, Gerhard Ludwig Müller. Who in an extensive document reiterated from top to tail the reasons for the 'no' to communion:

Divorced and Remarried. Müller Writes, Francis Dictates

Archbishop Müller is one of the few heads of the curia whom Francis has confirmed in his role. A man, therefore, who has his complete trust. To whom he has not hesitated to entrust also the task - in the same document - of dispelling the interpretive ambiguities born from some of the formulations concerning "mercy" and "conscience" used by the pope himself in his public conversation.

The inauguration of this twofold communicative register - in this case, of the pope and of his guardian of doctrine - almost entirely escaped the notice of the media, still dazzled by the presumed "openness" of the former. But it is likely to be repeated with other issues.

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