Robert McClory was a professor emeritus of journalism at Northwestern University and contributed to NCR starting in 1974. He is the author of Radical Disciple: Father Pfleger, St. Sabina Church, and the Fight for Social Justice and As It Was in the Beginning: The Coming Democratization of the Catholic Church. He died April 3, 2015.
Pope Francis has indicated he wants the bishops to set forth on a new mission: overturning the old expectation that church news would always be bad. His first proclamation, he explained, is that "Christ has saved you," and an attitude of mercy must follow from that revelation. "Only someone who has encountered mercy, who has been caressed by the tenderness of mercy, is happy and comfortable with the Lord," he has said. If the church is a "field hospital," Francis explained, it must bring mercy and healing to its patients.
It is unfortunate that Chicago's Cardinal Francis George is beset with a kind of pernicious paranoia. In 2012, he wrote that he expects die in bed, that his successor will likely die in prison and the following archbishop will be executed in public.
In a long and complex article in the Sept. 15 issue of America magazine, Cardinal Walter Kasper discusses how mercy is understood in the Gospel and in the teaching of Pope Francis. He applies this to the possibility of permitting those in second marriages to be absolved and returned to the church in good standing. This issue is now under discussion in preparation for the upcoming synod, Kasper says, and it is clear he will be one of those pushing enthusiastically for change in the near future.
The ouster of gay employees at churches is causing a lot more trouble than church officials expected. Recently, instances of protest have been reported somewhere in the country almost weekly. On Aug. 15, the Chicago Tribune ran a front-page story that continued for almost a full page inside on one situation.