Thomas Reese: Five great achievements of Pope Francis’ first four years

(NCR Online) It is hard to believe but Pope Francis is coming up on the fourth anniversary of his election as pope on March 13. In four years, the pope has had a profound impact on the church. True, he has not changed the church’s position on birth control, celibacy, women priests and gay marriage, but he has fundamentally changed how we see the church in five ways.

First, the pope has called for a new way of evangelizing. He tells us that the first words of evangelization must be about the compassion and mercy of God, rather than a list of dogmas and rules that must be accepted. He speaks daily of the compassion and love of God. Our response, he says, is to show compassion and love to all our brothers and sisters, especially the poor and marginalized. He not only talks about it; he does it by reaching out to refugees, the homeless, and the sick.

Previous popes wrote about the “new evangelization” in an abstract and boring way. This pope communicates in a way that grabs people’s attention with his words and actions. His message is the message of the Gospel — it is about the Father’s love for his people and their responsibility to love one another. He does not obsess over rules and regulations. He is more interested in orthopraxis (how we live the faith) than orthodoxy (how we explain the faith). [More]

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