Before the selection of Pope Francis, I sensed an exhaustion in the Church, although I never imagined that it extended in a literal sense to the personal health of Benedict XVI. The exhaustion I sensed was rooted in the "self-enclosed" mentality of so many of my fellow Catholics:
1. A combative overemphasis on conflict over finding common ground;
2. A hypernomianism--an overemphasis on rules, liturgical and otherwise, as a reaction to the chaos of previous decades;
3. A deemphasis on the Church's fundamental Gospel orientation to the poor and marginalized.
The Gospels always point to the opposite:
1. Dialogue with all inviting all;
2. Mercy and compassion over legalism and rigorism;
3. A special regard for the poor and marginalized in contrast to religious elites.
The selection of Francis illuminated what I--and probably many others--also perceived. And Francis has given us the vocabulary to describe what we perceived but could not articulate.
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