Fr. Dwight Longenecker, whose Standing on my Head is one of the better Catholic blogs out there, has a very interesting piece about the interview with Pope Francis that hit the headlines yesterday.
I find it interesting because the very same thought struck me yesterday, as I was reading the interview and thinking about it for the rest of the night.
I thought: How can the Holy Father say Catholics talk about homosexuality, abortion and contraception all the time? I virtually never hear Irish priests talk about any of those things. It's true that the laity talk about them more, and it may be true that many more traditionally-minded Catholics (like me) have become too defensive, and possibly too pugnacious, about disputed points of doctrine. On the other hand, I do hear the Gospel of God's love and forgiveness preached all the time. If there is any lack of balance, I thought, surely it is not on the side of preaching about sin and doctrine.
And it did occur to me...is this a matter of Pope Francis's background? Are things different in South America? Are people there, as Fr. Longenecker suggests, more conscious of sin and of Christ's offer of redemption, and is this what they thirst for? People in Western Europe don't seem at all burdened by the thought of sin, though maybe they are and it is simply at a submerged level.
In any case, I do think Catholics should take their lead from the Pope and have faith that the Holy Spirit is guiding him.