I find it reassuring to learn that some of the specific comments I found troubling in the Holy Father's conversation with Scalfari may never have been made.
The whole piece, apparently, was written from memory. Scalfari neither recorded the interview, nor took notes.
This is all very odd, but it does suggest that we should not get worried about the verbatim quotations which were anything but.
Without needing to doubt Scalfari's integrity, one has to recognise that we do not have an accurate transcript, word by word, of the conversation.
I am also bearing in mind my earlier insight (I hope) that the Holy Father uses rhetoric in a way that is different to his predecessor's precision.
All in all, those (of right or left) who are gloating at his changing Church teaching are rather jumping the gun; just as they are in proclaiming that the newly-announced Extraordinary Synod on the Family will take a liberal line. I think the Holy Father may surprise them yet.
My hope is that he is reaching out to a desperate world in love, not minding that his words may be taken out of context and twisted against him (and of course there is Our Lord's precedent for that...)
I suspect that he will continue to win the world over by his casual and approachable chats, and also continue to proclaim Catholic truth when talking within the family as it were (as he did to the Catholic doctors on the subject of abortion - passionately).
As so often, it is not either/or, but both/and; we don't need to choose between Francis and Benedict; nor between Francis' instinctive charity, and the law of the Church: and so on.
Ultimately, of course, we have no choice: we stick with the Holy Father, because to abandon him is to abandon the Church, and to abandon the Church is to abandon Christ; and as the first Holy Father said: 'Lord, to whom should we go?' And of course the occasion on which he said that was when Our Lord's words were causing scandal.
In my darker hours, I had recourse to the words of Hilaire Belloc: always keep a-hold of Nurse For fear of finding something worse... But I am feeling somewhat more sanguine now.
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