At some point I wonder if he'll confront a "Humanae Vitae" moment like Paul VI: caught between the zeitgeist and the Church's own traditions, which will the pope choose? And will all those currently enthralled with Francis I's new way still stand with him if he chooses the Church over the world?
And again this past August:
After all, it's currently all the rage to extol Pope Francis as the Church's sha-zam! rehabilitator. Wait till Pope Francis has a Humanae Vitae moment.
That day of reckoning might have just arrived. Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) addresses a wide variety of issues, and the commentaries are just beginning. A couple months the press was all a-rage about interviews with Pope Francis. Wonder what will happen now that Pope Francis has made it clear that the Church's pro-life stance regarding abortion won't be changed.
Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question. I want to be completely honest in this regard. This is not something subject to alleged reforms or “modernizations”. It is not “progressive” to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life. On the other hand, it is also true that we have done little to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears as a quick solution to their profound anguish, especially when the life developing within them is the result of rape or a situation of extreme poverty. Who can remain unmoved before such painful situations?
Given this blog's parameters, I'd suggest that this is *not* the authoritarian boom-lowering restorationist counteroffensive so desired by the Catholic right. Section 214 ends, crucially, on a pastoral note. That should give the Catholic Right pause; Pope Francis has repeated stressed the Church's reach-out, its evangelization, and not always admonishing sinners. (I bet, though, Pope Francis still thinks that's required occasionally.) The same section, though, is a sobering reminder to the Catholic left who embrace Francis' reforms (it's good Pope John all over again!) while overlooking Francis' piety and personal sense of papal style. No, he's not Benedict. That is OK. But that also doesn't mean that Francis has thrown away the Church's teaching role. As Catholic Memes puts it:
A couple days ago a couple Catholic bloggers compared Pope Francis to the Honey Badger, as in "he doesn't care--he just does what he wants" (paraphrased). A fortuitous analogy--and it will be interesting to see what the Pope does next while the rest of us unpack Evangelii Gaudium.