Renowned religious commentator Rev. Robert Barron writes at RealClearReligion on the recent naming by TIME magazine of Pope Francis as "Person of the Year" and cautions against some mis-perceptions in the mainstream media which the TIME cover-story evinces.
Barron writes of "a tendency to distinguish radically between [the] lovely Franciscan emphasis on mercy and love for the poor and the apparently far less than lovely emphasis on doctrine so characteristic of the Papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. There is actually a good deal of dangerous silliness in this way of characterizing things" [emphasis added].
Now listen to the authors of the Time article: "In a matter of months, Francis has elevated the healing mission of the church -- the church as servant and comforter of hurting people in an often harsh world -- above the doctrinal police work so important to his recent predecessors." And "his vision is of a pastoral -- and not doctrinaire -- church."
... to which Barron responds: "This is so much nonsense."
Which is to say, the Holy Father has in no way moved away from the historical teaching of the church on key matters such as life and marriage in his renewed focus on mercy.
As NOM President Brian Brown explained yesterday in the NOM Weekly News, there are reasons to celebrate Pope Francis' being named "Person of the Year," but of course all of us here at NOM recognize that there are also many folks out there being misled by the press into making mistakes about what Pope Francis represents.
In short, there is a widespread perception in the secular culture that Francis represents some kind of softening of the Catholic Church's teachings on crucial social issues, including same-sex marriage. But nothing is further from the truth - a fact pointed out before by several American Churchmen including Cardinal Francis George and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.
Indeed, as Father Barron implies, and as Brian explained yesterday, Francis hasn't at all demonstrated a need to move away from the Church's teachings on these issues, but has in fact emphasized that the Church needs to explain the importance of one man-one woman marriage in a more effective way and gain more adherents to that truth!