Lighten Up, Francis

May 2, 2017 (Steven O’Reilly) – It seems that Pope Francis continues to return to his oft-repeated characterization of  Catholics, at least those who actually believe what the Church has taught always and everywhere, as “rigid.” I’ve trained myself not to roll my eyes every time he says it for fear my eyes might get locked that way – kind of like when your mom told you not to cross your eyes. Excerpts from his most recent homily may be found here.  The conclusion to his homily is as follows:

“And today, let us look at the tenderness of Jesus: the witness of obedience, the Great Witness of God who have his life. He shows us God’s tenderness toward us, toward our sins, toward our weaknesses. Let us enter into this dialogue and let us ask for the grace that the Lord might soften a little the hearts of the rigid, of people who are always enclosed in the law and condemn everything that is outside of that law. They do not know the the Word came in the flesh, that the Word is the witness of obedience. They do not know that God’s tenderness is capable of taking away a heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh.”

Those following this pontificate are well familiar with the pope’s comments in this vein, which amount to little more than a straw man. No one is calling for the stoning of adulterers, making them wear scarlet letters, etc.  Lighten up, Francis.

I typically pass over such papal commentary nowadays.  However, the one blurb from the homily quoted in the article  which particularly caught my attention was this gem:

“And this makes the Church suffer very, very much: closed hearts, hearts of stone, hearts that do not want to open themselves, that don’t want to feel; hearts that only know the language of condemnation: they know how to condemn. They don’t know how to say: “But, explain to me why you are saying this? Why this? Explain it to me…’. No: they are closed. They know everything. They don’t need any explanations.” (emphasis added)

If I had been drinking coffee when I read this, I believe I would be needing to wipe it off my computer screen.  Your Holiness, we would love for you to explain it to us!  Please, do explain why and what you are saying. Five specific questions have been addressed to you.  Simple “yes” or “no” questions. Perhaps you have heard of them?  These are the dubia of the four cardinals. Please respond to them.  Explain it to us.


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