But mostly Francis demonstrated a nuanced political dexterity, effectively sidestepping the familiar framework of American debate while charting his own broader path. He advocated “life” but emphasized opposition to the death penalty, not abortion. He made strong stands for religious freedom — a major issue for American bishops — but refocused the concept on interfaith tolerance and harmony….
Francis responded on this trip by advising the bishops to use less harsh language, be less critical and offer a more welcoming approach in the church and in society. “Our common house can no longer tolerate sterile divisions,” he said Sunday during his final Mass, on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
He never mentioned same-sex marriage — and is opposed to it — but analysts say his message was that bishops should focus less on such issues and more on pastoring to Catholic families over all….
While Francis needed to be careful wading into politics, “complete silence on these issues demoralizes those who are on the front lines of these battles,” wrote R. R. Reno, the editor of First Things, a conservative journal on religion in public life. “The only specific issues Francis mentioned before Congress are associated with progressive politics.”…
“I love the inclusiveness of this pope,” she said. “He stepped outside the borders of what’s been acceptable before in the Catholic Church.”
While everyone in the church if not the country was parsing what Francis said during his visit, the faithful, including Ms. Giovinco, heard unmitigated tolerance. “He’s following the original precepts of the church: Love one another.”
Contrast the Pope's behavior with Jesus' calls for repentance, confrontations, and rebuking of his contemporaries in the gospels, the behavior of the apostles in Acts, and how early church leaders like Polycarp and Athanasius conducted themselves. For documentation of the contrast between the ecumenism of modern Catholicism and the beliefs and practice of patristic Christianity, see the fourth post in the comments section of the thread here.