On Sept. 21, Father Matt Malone, editor of “America”, and Father Joseph McShane, president of Fordham University, appeared on the Charlie Rose Show to discuss Pope Francis’ views and priorities for the church’s spiritual doctrine and mission.
As mentioned in the New York Times article, “Pope Says Church Is ‘Obsessed’ With Gays, Abortion and Birth Control,” Pope Francis criticized the church for putting dogma over love.
“What I took out of [the New York Times article] is the following: the church is obsessed with his pastoral role and he does not want the church to be caught up in all the conversation and all the debate,” Charlie Rose said on the PBS interview. “[The church] forgets, for him, to serve the poor.”
According to McShane, Pope Francis is setting a model for what the church should be. “This is a moment when the Pope is trying to get its pastoral bearings for the 21st century […] he modeled for us what the church has to be: it is missionary and filled with mercy,” he said. “He speaks about the poor, as whom you will hear the voice of God calling us to a new conversion of heart.”
Malone added to McShane’s comment, highlighting the importance of a relationship with God. “He is reminding us what our priorities are – he is reminding us that the central truth of our faith is that we have a relationship with a God who has created and redeemed us in love,” said Malone. “All the church teaches, all the church believes, all the church does is intelligible in light of that relationship.”
In regards to the church’s teaching on gays, abortion and birth control, Pope Francis is implying that the church is not changing its doctrine, but its tone. “He is saying that this is a change in tone [in talking about gays, abortion and birth control]- not as a change in doctrine. The church hasn’t changed in terms of its attitude [on] gays, abortion, birth control,” Rose said.
However, in this PBS interview, Malone stated that the church is undergoing a powerful transition in the tone of gays, abortion and birth control. “The doctrine does not change; [the Pope] isn’t changing the church’s teaching,” Malone said. “I would announce, though, the power of this shift.”
According to McShane, the Pope is urging the church to look at everyone through God’s eyes. “We must try to look at each person through God’s eyes; would God look at a person who is gay, or [a person] involved in something the rest of the world would find unacceptable, with kindness and mercy? That’s important,” McShane said.
Furthermore, according to McShane, the Pope characterizes himself as a sinner, where everyone is the same. “How does he characterize himself: I am a sinner. He has this experiential knowledge of himself as a sinner who is redeemed,” McShane said. “The fact that he knows is what makes him such an effective missionary of mercy.”
“That’s the way he sees his ministry: reaching out, and saying, I don’t have a barrier between you and me; we are on the same boat, we are both sinners, and I love you. That is an arresting experience for us,” McShane said.
According to the Pope’s interview in “America,” unless a new balance is found between the church’s doctrines and spiritual mission, “the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards,” Pope Francis said.
Stay tuned for more on Fordham’s reactions to Pope Francis’ interview.