The recent meeting of 200 Catholic bishops at the Vatican was called together by Pope Francis to address divorce (which if you’re in the real world also means addressing affairs), annulment, and families in difficulty in the context of the realities of life in the 21st century.
Pope Francis convened the group to find “new ways for the church to help people in the midst of crisis.” [WSJ Oct 14, 2014]
Sex, Lies & The Conflicted Church
The Pope didn’t call the meeting ‘Sex, Lies, and The Conflicted Church” but he could have.
On the one hand divorce, affairs and remarriage are in direct conflict with Catholic teachings. On the other hand Catholics who have experienced any of these are sometimes in crisis and need help.
Is the Church not a compassionate church? Mary and St. Francis, whose name Pope Francis took, would say “yes.” And isn’t confession actually forgiveness, understanding and compassion?
Looking at the unofficial name for the meeting–Sex, Lies and the Conflicted Church–sex obviously plays a role in affairs. It also plays a role in marriage and remarriage. Lies are the core component of affairs and divorce. Lies are also a core component of many annulments. The reason given for the annulment is not really true. But it is an accepted Catholic substitute for divorce. The conflict is between Catholic dogma and Catholic compassion.
Dogma Meets Compassion
So to get back to answering “Is the Pope Catholic?” Yes he is Catholic according to traditional dogma, and yes he is Catholic according to the new more compassionate Church. He wants to combine Catholic teachings and Mary and St. Francis’s compassionate Church. He’s not saying affairs and divorce are fine; in fact, he is implying that they often put families in crisis. But he is saying the Church has to offer understanding, compassion and forgiveness…….after penitence.*
It would be nice for the Church to acknowledge the harm that lies do, and penitence is a good place to start.
*[The] “document [from the first meeting] raised the possibility of permitting, on a case-by-case basis, remarried Catholics to take communion after a period of penitence.” WSJ Oct 14, 2014