[From my post on the Truth and Charity Forum of HLI]
The Pope has surprised a number of committed Catholics by his talking points, mostly because he did not focus too heavily on abortion. However, it should come as no surprise that Pope Francis focused on many of the same themes from Laudato Si, his first encyclical, such as the environment, immigration, ending the death penalty, ending arms proliferation and human trafficking, and supporting the poor and marginalized. These issues are generally given more emphasis by more liberal Catholics (and non-Catholics).
Of course, the pope has also mentioned the hallmark conservative causes, particularly the importance of the family and the sacredness of human life, but not anything against abortion or same-sex marriage by name. R.R. Reno, editor of First Things, called the speech to Congress “modest” and said that, “Francis discourages conservative Catholics, more by silence than anything else. He encourages progressives, both by his silences and his affirmations.”
That seems to sum up the reaction of many faithful Catholics to Pope Francis’s visit: disappointment that he didn’t shore them up or champion their causes.
However, I don’t think such downtroddenness is appropriate for three reasons:
The first is that “popes speak Vatican-ese,” as a Jesuit priest and professor of mine Fr. Gerald Fogarty once put it. The pope is head of a worldwide Church with many different cultural, national and ethnic sensitivities that they seek to balance in their pronouncements. It is rare for popes to come out with guns blazing, naming specific condemnations of specific national laws and policies. Pope Benedict did discuss abortion and Pope Francis did mention immigration by name, but he also linked it with the wider refugee crisis of displaced persons fleeing the Middle East. His concern is global, as the Church is global.
Did you see Pope Francis? Did you listen to or read any of this talks? What did you think?