The recent statement by Pope Francis on divorced then remarried Catholics is another example of his genius as Church marketer (in other words evangelist) and as an organizational strategist. Like so many other pronouncements he has made in his election it ties to and promotes a central strategy of his papacy, mercy. Like his other teachings, he has not changed Church teaching, but he has focused the conversation on what the Gospel has revealed about how we the Church should behave. I am not directly personally affected by the issue of divorce, but the Pope’s explication does influence me and all of us.
We are the Church, collectively. And the Holy Father has just told us to treat all people in a welcoming way. Putting aside the theological and even pastoral considerations, from a marketing, or evangelical, perspective this wise. It broadens the “market”.
Far too many people want validation of the behavior. This direction from Francis does not do that. In fact, it does the opposite. It leaves Church teaching unchanged for those who have chosen to remarry after divorce, but like his “who am I to judge” question, he has reminded the rest of us, particularly clergy, to change our behavior toward those we might otherwise have judged.
Easily recalling those who dropped their stones and walked away after Jesus dared them to cast them, the pope’s words remind us of what the Gospel reveals and puts us believers in the frame of mind to be evangelizers.