Fr. Z, "What on earth is Pope Francis up to and why?" (Fr. Z's Blog, February 9, 2015), commenting on Andrea Gagliarducci at his weekly Monday Vatican post (Fr. Z's comments in red, his emphasis in bold):
The week that begins today and ends with the creation of 20 new cardinals may represent the turning point of Pope Francis’ pontificate....And much, much more >>
Before the arrival of Pope Francis, the main themes of discussion in the Church have had solid theological roots. But even the question concerning the pastoral care of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, as well as for homosexual couples – both of which were the object of a heated debate at the last Synod of Bishops – are in the end based on theological foundations, and deal with the application of doctrine. Moreover, even the criticisms aimed at the pope’s plan for curial reform – the other issue at currently at stake in this pontificate – are founded on theological and juridical grounds.
Nevertheless, Pope Francis demonstrates that he is moving on completely different grounds. It is not by chance that one of his favourite quotes about ecumenism is taken from the conversation between Bl. Paul VI and the Patriarch of Costantinople, Athenagoras: “If we were to close ourselves off in a room together and leave the theologians outside, we would accomplish ecumenism in one hour.” In similar fashion, leaving theological discussions aside, Pope Francis wants to propose a model of a Church that evangelizes through attraction, and not because of the strength of its concepts. [At first glance, this seems like madness. On the other hand, consider that, under the onslaught of the dictatorship of relativism and the destruction of education resulting in the loss of reasoning skills along with wide-spread ignorance, people can’t or don’t accept reasoned arguments anymore. Gorgias has won. We have to hold up shiny objects in front of people’s eyes, and rattle them as a bunch of keys before a fussing baby. Is that too harsh? I have to exaggerate to get my point across. So, Francis might be on to something.]
Pope Francis’ choices in two consistories mirror this intention. Beyond choosing a few candidates with strong institutional ties, Pope Francis has selected as cardinals mainly bishops whose primary interest is not found in some or other theological position, but in pastoral practice. Pope Francis’ Church bypasses theological discussion and aims at going straight to the heart of the people. [I think that that distinction of “theological” versus “pastoral” is flawed, but…. In any event, this is why our sacred liturgical worship of God is pivotal in any effort we undertake in evangelization or new evangelization.]
My head hurts.