Francis turning his back on ‘straitjacket of moralism’

06 March 2014 | by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

Pope Francis was breaking away from “moralism”, Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga said in an interview with the German Catholic News Agency KNA on the occasion of the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ election.

“I am a moral theologian myself but I feel very much at ease with what the Pope says, as moralism is often more like a straitjacket than an answer to the call of the Good News,” said Rodriguez, the co-ordinator of the group of eight cardinals (C8) Pope Francis has tasked with overseeing church reforms. One did not encounter God in a lecture hall but in the form “of a human person who is calling us”, he underlined.

The reform of the Curia which the Pope had begun carried risks for Pope Francis. People were saying the Pope was carrying out a revolution, he recalled and added, “I have even heard people say ‘We are praying for him to die as soon as possible’. That is wicked – but such people think they are Christians,” the cardinal said. There had always been such people he recalled, and added, “That was what the scribes who turned against the Lord said.”

Becoming Pope had not changed Jorge Maria Bergoglio, Cardinal Rodriguez said. While the Church’s theological approach was often “way above people’s heads”, Francis had a “special gift of making himself understood straight away”.

The Pope’s gestures, such as his visit to refugees in Lampedusa, were “veritable encyclicals”, the cardinal added.

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