During a recent talk at the NYU Catholic Center, the Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap. said that Pope Francis is a “surprise that keeps unfolding into more surprises.” He added that Pope Francis had a “priority of evangelism over catechesis.”
Were she still on the earth, Catherine of Siena might tell Pope Francis to return to Vatican II (a Pastoral Council), and work to put it into practice, rather than seeking new reforms, which may undermine faith and morals, and somehow be justified as ‘evangelism’ or mercy. One can not be truly pastoral (truly love) by setting aside or undermining the doctrine of faith and morals.
For John Paul II the proof of the realization of the Council was in a well-formed Christian conscience. “This is the direction which should be followed by all pastoral action, the lay apostolate and the whole of the Church’s activity.”
“The doctrine of faith and morals is the content of the teaching of the pastors of the Church, so that on the one hand doctrinal acts of the magisterium have a pastoral sense, while on the other pastoral acts have a doctrinal significance, deeply rooted as they are in faith and morals. The pastoral acts contain the doctrine that the Church proclaims; they often make it clearer and more precise, striving incessantly to achieve the fulness of divine truth (cf. John 16:13). Karol Wojtyla, Sources of Renewal: The Implementation of Vatican II (Harper & Row, 1979)
During his talk, Bishop Chaput lamented the dwindling number of Franciscans and said that he didn’t know why it was so. One reason is the widespread lack of putting into practice of a life-style—a way of thinking and acting—rooted in faith and morals, within the Franciscans and throughout the Church. When was the last time a leader in the Church spoke out against American foreign policy (weapon’s trafficking, regime changes and plunder)? — a policy that poses a significant threat to the future of the world and the lives of millions today. The answer is not to set aside the doctrine of faith and morals but to live it.