How to summarize?
Here is the essence in short.
This WaPo article captures what much of the secular and even a fair number of Catholic media are saying.
“Yet the still-significant opposition in the synod to rapid changes in rules also suggested how far off Catholics may yet be from seeing Francis’s revolutionary style turned into practice.”
And this short Word On Fire video of Bishop Robert Barron captures what most of them got wrong.
I can confidently tell you that the news media are in love with the Vicar of Christ. Time and again, commentators, pundits, anchorpersons, and editorialists opined that Pope Francis is the bomb. They approved, of course, of his gentle way with those suffering from disabilities and his proclivity to kiss babies, but their approbation was most often awakened by this Pope’s “merciful” and “inclusive” approach, his willingness to reach out to those on the margins. More often than not, they characterized this tenderness as a welcome contrast to the more rigid and dogmatic style of Benedict XVI. Often, I heard words such as “revolutionary” and “game-changing” in regard to Pope Francis, and one commentator sighed that she couldn’t imagine going back to the Church as it was before the current pontiff.
Well, I love Pope Francis too, and I certainly appreciate the novelty of his approach and his deft manner of breathing life into the Church…But I balk at the suggestion that the new Pope represents a revolution or that he is dramatically turning away from the example of his immediate predecessors. And I strenuously deny that he is nothing but a soft-hearted powder-puff, indifferent to sin.
A good deal of the confusion stems from a misinterpretation of Francis’s stress on mercy…Now this is important, for many receive the message of divine mercy as tantamount to a denial of the reality of sin, as though sin no longer matters. But just the contrary is the case. To speak of mercy is to be intensely aware of sin and its peculiar form of destructiveness. Or to shift to one of the Pope’s favorite metaphors, it is to be acutely conscious that one is wounded so severely that one requires, not minor treatment, but the emergency and radical attention provided in a hospital on the edge of a battlefield.
Pope Francis has often used the terminology of the Church as ‘field hospital’. Barron’s explanation of what that means is very timely.