Cardinal George says pope’s remarks suggest change in ‘pastoral approach,’ not policy
BY FRANCINE KNOWLES Religion Reporter September 22, 2013 6:47PM
Cardinal Francis George | Rich Hein/Sun-Times
Updated: October 24, 2013 6:29AM
Responding to Pope Francis’ comments last week suggesting a shift in the Catholic Church’s tone regarding gays, abortion and contraception, Cardinal Francis George signaled Sunday that the Archdiocese of Chicago doesn’t plan any policy changes.
Last Thursday, the pope said in an interview that the church had become obsessed by “small-minded rules” about how to be faithful and that pastors should instead emphasize compassion over condemnation when discussing the divisive social issues of abortion, gays and contraception.
“I think we should take it to heart as a reflection piece because that’s what it was,” George said Sunday after presiding over a Golden Wedding Anniversary Mass at Holy Name Cathedral. “We’ll see as we go along to not change policy but to change pastoral approach.”
Francis said the church’s pastoral ministry can’t be “obsessed with the transmission of a disjoined multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall, like a house of cards.”
Asked if the church had become obsessed, George responded, “The church has to speak to the challenges to her teachings that are presented by the society. If a society is obsessed with those issues, then the church will respond. If the society doesn’t bring them up. The church won’t respond.”
Francis’ interview was published Thursday in Jesuit journals in 16 countries.
George first responded to the Pope’s remarks Friday in a statement in which he applauded Francis’ call for humility and forgiveness, but George did not comment then on the pope’s remarks on homosexuality, abortion and contraception.
Francis revealed that he had been “reprimanded” for not pressing church opposition to abortion in his papacy, but he contended that “it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”
His remarks contained no change in church teachings, and in an audience with Catholic gynecologists on Friday he delivered a strong anti-abortion message and cited Vatican teaching on the need to defend the unborn.