Mercy is what the Church is about

  • August 15, 2013

One of the most astute commentators on the Catholic scene today is John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter. He was present on the papal plane for the press conference heard ’round the world, and had this to write about what united Pope Francis’ remarks on a range of subjects.

“The one-word interpretive key to Francis’ news conference and arguably to his entire papacy to date: ‘mercy.’ As I’ve written before, each recent pope has had a catchphrase that represents his core emphasis,” wrote Allen. “For John Paul II, it was ‘Be not afraid,’ a call to revive the Church’s missionary swagger after a period of introspection and self-doubt. For Benedict, it was ‘reason and faith,’ the argument that religion shorn of self-critical reflection becomes extremism while human reason without the orientation of ultimate truths becomes skepticism and nihilism. For Francis, his signature idea is mercy. Over and over again, he emphasizes God’s endless capacity to forgive, insisting what the world needs to hear from the Church above all today is a message of compassion.”

Allen thought the key to the press conference was not the comments on homosexuality, but in response to another question about marriage and divorce.

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