Catholic Bishops: Expand Priorities

16 November 2013 |permalink | email article

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, in his final address as president of the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops, called on them to take up the cause of Christians in many countries who have been persecuted and killed for their faith. But the shift in emphasis was the clearest sign yet that eight months after Pope Francis was elected, his priorities were beginning to trickle down to the organization that conservative Cardinal Dolan has led. Francis provoked widespread discussion in the church in an interview published in September in which he said that the church should not be so “obsessed” with issues like abortion, gay marriage and contraception—but should instead lead with the Gospel’s message of love and mercy. He said the church “must be for the poor,” and has visited with refugees and washed the feet of juveniles in prison , cameras in tow.

The Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a senior analyst for the National Catholic Reporter, a liberal Catholic newspaper and website, said he perceived Francis’s effect in the bishops’ new approach to religious liberty: “They’re not withdrawing that agenda item, but so far in this meeting, ‘they’re just not obsessing.”

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