In a blog of 2013, Sentire Cum Ecclesia, Catholic blogger David Schütz discusses Pope Francis’ style of leadership in his post ‘Pope Francis: All things to all people’.
He begins by expressing his early doubt and uncertainty in Pope Francis, then acknowledgement that young people especially were attracted to Pope Francis.
What cemented Schütz’s faith in Pope Francis’ style, was an article in The Telegraph, ‘Why even atheists love Pope Francis’. His ultimate determination of Pope Francis is, “So, I think Pope Francis has judged that – in order that the Church’s message be heard – a new kind of beauty needs to shine forth from the Church at the highest level: the beauty of simplicity.”
Pope Francis has again caused waves in both the secular and Catholic world, with his simple but accurate comments on homosexuality according to Church teaching. Being homosexual, he said is not a crime, but a sin.
To the bishops in some areas of the world in support of laws that criminalise homosexuality or discriminate against LGBTQ people, he said, “These bishops have to have a process of conversion,” and indeed they should apply “tenderness, please, as God has for each one of us.”
A simple, sincere call to love as God loves us.
In a letter to Fr James Martin SJ who asked for clarification, Pope Francis responded in a letter, “And I wanted to clarify that it is not a crime, in order to stress that criminalization is neither good nor just. When I said it is a sin, I was simply referring to Catholic moral teaching, which says that every sexual act outside of marriage is a sin…. but we know well that Catholic morality not only takes into consideration the matter, but also evaluates freedom and intention; and this, for every kind of sin.”
This is not in any way against the doctrine of the Church, but commentary by Catholics appeared to react strongly to the sentiment that homosexuality is not a crime, and for progressive Catholics that homosexuality is a sin.
It is indicative that there is still a long road to be travelled in both understanding key Church doctrine and God’s mercy. The bias that some faithful may have against members of the LGBTQ community remains significant, especially considering this Archdiocese’s synod theme: Building Community, Inclusivity and Dialogue.
Perhaps, for the necessary conversion to “tenderness please, as God has for each of us”, it may be worthy to consider again the late Archbishop Anthony Pantin’s motto, “All things to all men” taken from 1 Corinthians 9:19–23.
Omnia Omnibus (all things to all men) harks to an evangelisation with the intent to save others: “taking risks that others may not take, going into areas where others may not go, negotiating with people we would not normally would…associating with the rich, migrants, the homeless, being open to other cultures etc” (Fr Martin Sirju).
Isn’t this the primary goal of the Church? To save souls?
We have Pope Francis’ example.