Pope Francis called for a more welcoming Catholic church, open even to those don’t accept its teachings, as he preached at a large open-air Mass on the last day of a weeklong South American tour. Speaking to hundreds of thousands of people at a military air base on the outskirts of Paraguay’s capital city on Sunday, the pontiff taught a lesson in how the church should—and shouldn’t—attempt to spread the Gospel. He called for “welcoming those who do not think as we do, who do not have faith or who have lost it, at times through our own fault. Welcoming the persecuted, the unemployed. Welcoming the different cultures, with which this land is so richly blessed. Welcoming sinners.” The pope’s homily further highlighted his shift in emphasis from that of his immediate predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, who drew clearer lines between the church and secular culture. Emphasizing mercy, especially for the poor, while taking for granted widely contested moral teachings has been a hallmark of Pope Francis’ missionary style, winning him great popularity though unsettling some within the church. For example, an October, 2014, meeting of bishops that the pope called to consider family issues was the scene of controversy over proposals to make it easier for divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion—a practice prohibited by church law. The bishops also debated a recognition of positive aspects of so-called irregular relationships, including those between unmarried or same-sex partners. A second bishops meeting in October will take up the issues again. “You do not convince people with arguments, strategies or tactics. You convince them by learning how to welcome them,” he said on Sunday. “For that, it is necessary to keep doors open, above all the doors to the heart.”
Pope Francis calls for a church “welcoming those who do not think as we do”
Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 07/12/15
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