|Associated Press photo|
"It appears he wants to help shift the church's focus — away from rules and judgment, toward mercy and love," Paul Prather writes today, quoting the pope's "nicely worded analogy" to the Jesuit publication La Civilta Cattolica: "I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars. You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else."
Prather concludes, "He appears to notice we live on a planet where people are spiritually damaged, physically hungry and dying of incurable diseases. He seems to say, let's reach out instead of running them off. Let's love people as they are, not for who we might prefer them to be. Let's feed them if they're starving and bind their wounds if they're bleeding. If we disagree with some of their beliefs or actions, we'll fret about that later — after we've first become true friends to them.
"Thank you, Pope Francis. It's not just Catholics who need to heed your message. It's Christians everywhere." Prather has more to say; you can read his columns here.