MANILA, Oct. 29, 2013—The different approach adopted by Pope Francis in leading the universal Church is in no way a manifestation of the shattering of church conventions. Rather, it is a reflection of the Supreme Pontiff’s personality brought by his diverse background and experiences, a high-ranking church official said.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said there was nothing controversial with the stance of Pope Francis on the issues faced by the church, noting that his statements have never contradicted the general teachings of the Catholic Church.
“First of all, there is much continuity for example in the teaching. I have not heard anything from the Pope that contradicts anything of the Catholic traditions,” Tagle said in an interview with the Vatican Radio following the recently concluded Pontifical Council for the Family held in Rome from Oct. 23 to 25.
Last month, the mainstream media went abuzz over the interview of Pope Francis with the Italian Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica, where the pope said “the Church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.”
The Pope noted that that if the Catholic Church will not be more understanding to the needs of the people, “the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards.”
Tagle said that part of the papacy is the unique character of the Pope in leading Catholics all over the world, noting that the pastoral inclination of the Supreme Pontiff is just a reflection of his personal values brought by his diverse experiences.
“I also see something that is not only unique to Pope Francis but to all the past popes (as well)—they bring to the papacy their unique personalities, backgrounds, choices in life, and priorities. And each one, being true to himself, opens up to the whole world a dimension of the gospel,” Tagle said.
“And I rejoice in this continuity yet this deeply and intimately personal way of incarnating the papal ministry,” he said.
Tagle added that through the leadership of Pope Francis, the church has been urged to become more pastoral in proclaiming the good news, establishing closer ties with the people and becoming more deeply interconnected with them.
“For Pope Francis…you see the significant role of the family…you see popular religiosity, you see regular pastors dealing with people,” he said. “In fact, for example in the Philippines, (pastors) don’t wait to go to the people. Instead, the people are the ones who run to the pastor. This is part of the papacy now.”
Exuding joy in the church
Being known for his cheerful personality, Tagle added that the church must also learn to exude joy as part of their evangelizing ministry to attract more people, especially the young, to follow and apply Catholic ideals in their day-to-day living.
“In a survey in the Philippines, the young people said that they are turned off by a church that is quite judgmental—a church that comes across as pessimistic and heavy, a church that does not rejoice at anything as though there is no sign of hope, not even a single sign of hope in the world,” he said.
“And so they appreciate the capacity to be happy about life, to be joyful about life,” he said.
“What we expect is that the church (will always) say no to something. But if they experience love and joy from us, then I think (that is when) they (will become) more disposed to listen to the no’s,” Tagle added. (Jennifer Orillaza)