A reader's post today on Talking Points Memo publisher Josh Marshall's blog harks back to this insightful September 25 article in National Catholic Reporter. I think it captures well the process that Pope Francis has unleashed. - gwc
Francis wishes to release Vatican II's bold vision from captivity | National Catholic Reporter: by Richard Gaillardetz (Joseph Professor of Theology, Boston College)
Will this pope rewrite controversial church doctrines? No, but that isn't how doctrine changes. Doctrine changes when pastoral contexts shift and new insights emerge such that particular doctrinal formulations no longer mediate the saving message of God's transforming love. Doctrine changes when the church has leaders and teachers who are not afraid to take note of new contexts and emerging insights. It changes when the church has pastors who do what Francis has been insisting on for the last six months: Leave the security of your chanceries, rectories, parish offices and episcopal residences. Set aside the "small-minded rules" that keep you locked up and shielded from the world. Go meet the people where they are.
If Francis succeeds in creating a new generation of pastor-leaders who are willing to meet the people where they are, who are willing to create what he has called a "culture of encounter," he will have created the necessary conditions for appropriate doctrinal change. That's how it works.
Six months into his pontificate, it is too early to know whether Francis will succeed in moving from tantalizing symbolism to real structural change. But we do know where he wants to take our church. Over the past five decades, we have been tantalized by empty allusions to Vatican II that too often masked halfhearted efforts to give the council's teaching robust historical form. Francis wishes to release the council's bold ecclesial vision and deep-seated Gospel values from decades of captivity. It has been a long time coming.
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