Former head of the Dominicans, Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, OP, wrote a blog post for America magazine entitled “A New Way of Being Church” in which he reflects on Pope Francis interview with that magazine and what it may mean for Catholics. Radcliffe has been supportive of same-gender relationships as expressing “true love” in the past, and now writes:
“[Pope Francis] also sees the Christian mission as offering that healing gaze to others. He is touched by seeing how individuals live. When he addresses the question of welcoming gay people in the church, he says, ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ If we dare to really see people, in their dignity and humanity, then we shall discover the right words to say. Who knows where this will take us?”
Radcliffe offers a few thoughts on where he thinks Pope Francis’ pastoral leadership, which tries to truly respect people’s identities and experiences, might lead the Church:
“Structural change to the government of the church is vital, but it must follow from a new way of being church, in which we get out of the sacristy, engage with people, know their suffering and their puzzlement from within. At this stage, the pope is showing the way forward by what he does…
“So this papacy could mark the most fundamental change in the governance of the church in centuries, from monarchy to collegiality…Francis wishes to do it. He insists on the return to models of synodal government and on real consultation. Lay people will have a voice, as they often did in the early church. We must have patience as the form of this new structure and dynamic unfolds.”
One way Pope Francis is expanding collegiality is by listening and responding to that many Catholics who have reached out to him. If you have not done so, consider writing to Pope Francis and then sharing some element of that with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry