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Leila Arias wrote:

Hi, guys —

I belong to our Church Bible and Theology class. We are now studying St. Paul's letters to the Corinthians.

Our pastor mentioned that one of the most recent Popes had issued a statement in one of his encyclicals or homilies stating:

The Church needs to be more gentle rather than practice severity.

  • Do you know which Pope and the source?

Thank you.

I really would like to read the actual writing. My prayers and thanks for any assistance.


  { Which Pope said: The Church needs to be more gentle rather than practice severity? }

Eric replied:

Hi Leila,

You need to call your pastor on this. Ask him for a specific reference. If he can't provide one, explain that we need to understand it in context before we draw sweeping conclusions based on it (as I believe you quite wisely recognize).

  • Is your pastor is using this quote to justify some outrageous position or approach?

The statement, as it stands, is so broad and has holes so big that you could drive a truck through it. It's entirely possible that the pope said something that resembles this, in a particular context. For example, he might be discussing the Gospel passage of the woman caught in adultery, where Jesus is gentle with an adulteress. While we should be gentle with repentant sinners, and this is where some people stop short, Jesus also said, Go and sin no more, such that gentleness for sinners does not mean gentleness for (or tolerance of) sin.

In general, there are times when it is appropriate to be gentle and times it is appropriate to be severe. There are issues we should be flexible on and issues we should not be flexible on. Understanding, which is which, depends on the context of what was said. Unfortunately, I am not familiar with everything the pope has said or written in recent times so I can't identify this work; perhaps one of my colleagues has run across it.

Ultimately, the burden of proof is on your pastor.


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