I was blessed with a great opportunity to take in the Holy Father's speech to Congress yesterday with some of our DePauw students and faculty yesterday morning.
As I listened to the speech, I can't say I was surprised. Some things the Holy Father mentioned explicitly - protecting the environment, the death penalty, selling arms to warring nations, etc.
Some things the Holy Father mentioned, but not explicitly. Redefining marriage, abortion, etc.
It is quite natural, as Catholics in these USA, to beg and plead with the Holy Father - "Look, Holy Father, if you could say these things that we've been destroyed on, hated on, had family and friends turn their backs on us over...if you could back us EXPLICITLY on these things, that would really be helpful!"
So here's my take on why he didn't mention them explicitly.
When I was in the seminary, I naturally began to think about what I would preach on...and how. A lot of what I thought I would preach on, and how, I have carried through on
There is certainly something that changes when you are made a PASTOR...when the Church LITERALLY TELLS YOU SOMETHING:
"You are RESPONSIBLE for EVERY SOUL in your parish boundaries...you will give an account, before God, at the end of time, on what you did to bring EVERYONE in your parish boundaries to salvation"
Think about that, folks. That's a HECK of a statement.
When I was driving out to Brazil for my first stint as pastor, I literally almost pulled over and threw up because I was so nervous. I wasn't nervous about the 300 people that were going to Church, I was overwhelmed by the fact that I was being sent to try my best to bring the 19,000 people of Clay County to Christ.
Right before he went off the deep end, I heard a talk by Fr. John Corapi, who famously developed a following because he would routinely preach "Catholic revivals" - he would rail against all the orthodox Catholic issues - abortion, gay marriage, contraception.
Then Father Corapi, on an interview on Catholic Radio, said, in essence "I've come to appreciate more and more the position that pastors are in. I hear from people all the time - "I wish my pastor preached with the fire and brimstone that you do" but I've begun to realize that pastors are in a different position than I am. I can come in and preach to people and challenge them and then leave. A pastor has to live in that community, week after week, and has to always think about how to pastor ALL these people, over years, so that they come to Christ."
The point of all this: yes, there is a part of me that wishes the Holy Father would explicitly affirm the things that I've been shredded for. But there's only one man in the seat of pastor of the whole world, and we have to respect that.
Some will say - "If you don't preach on _________, and do it forcefully, you are not preaching on it because of cowardice." But it isn't always cowardice. Sometimes to not preach on something in a certain way is PRUDENT. There is a time to be "St. John the Baptist" but there is also a time to NOT do so.
Just like parishioners who routinely make requests of me - "Father, why don't you preach on _________, and do it with gusto?" but only I am in that seat and have to discern what is the best thing to say, when to say it, and how to say it, so to we should simply pray for the Holy Father and leave it at that.