Has Pope changed tack on morality and pastoral approach?

Pope Francis has changed one significant emphasis of his pontificate since last year’s extraordinary synod on the family, a Vatican watcher says.

Vaticanista Sandro Magister, writing for the Italian L’Espresso magazine, said in the first two summers of his pontificate, Francis “gave space and visibility to the men and movements in favour of a reform of the pastoral care of the family and of sexual morality”.

But during the extraordinary synod last October, Francis saw that resistance among the bishops to this reform was much wider and stronger than had been foreseen.

Since then, Francis has said “not a single word in support of the innovators”, Magister wrote.

Indeed, Francis has spoken out on questions like abortion, divorce, homosexuality, and contraception 40 times since then, the commentator added.

And in doing so, the Pope has spoken “without swerving a millimetre from the strict teaching of his predecessors Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI”.

Francis has also hit out “above all” against “gender ideology” and its “ambitions to colonise the world”, Magister added.

The article in L’Espresso also noted that Francis has toughened up on divorce.

According to Magister, Francis recently said of the idea of giving Communion to the divorced and remarried that “it doesn’t solve anything”.

But the Pope knows that expectations are very high in this matter “and he knows that he himself has fostered them”.

“But he has distanced himself from them. ‘Overblown expectations’, he now calls them, knowing he cannot satisfy them,” Magister continued.

“Because after all the proclamations of a more collegial government of the Church, of the Pope and the bishops together, it is a given that Francis will side with the will of the bishops, the great majority of them conservative, and give up on imposing a reform that will be rejected by most.”


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