What does Pope Francis mean when he speaks about accompanying people? When he speaks about going "out to the 'existential peripheries'”?
He insists that "the truth factor is crucial here. 'The truth must always be told,' not just in the dogmatic sense of the word but in the sense of 'love and God’s fullness'. The priest must 'accompany' people."
I do not believe the Holy Father is speaking in contradiction of Catholic teaching on marriage and divorce, nor is he recommending the Gospel be compromised. In fact, I think the only way to understand what the Pope is saying is in the light of the Gospel, and in the light of his own way of accompanying those under his pastoral care in Buenos Aires. Remember, he did not just visit the slums, he spent time there - he was a guest in their homes. If society and culture is dysfunctional, we know - especially by experience - that ordinary family life is too. Bergoglio visited ordinary families, in their home, around their kitchen table, relatives and neighbors coming and going.
It seems to me what the Pope means when he says priests "should welcome couples that live together" may also be better understood in light of today's Gospel, when Christ raised the son of the widow of Nain: the Lord was moved with pity for her, he had compassion for her. With that attitude in mind, I thought of the Gospel of the Woman at the Well and her 'unexpected' encounter with Christ.
Christ asked a Samaritan woman to have compassion on him - he revealed his thirst to her, knowing full well she herself thirsted for love and acceptance. Christ visited her, in her own neighborhood. A Jew, who shouldn't have anything to do with a Samaritan 'dog', Christ visits and drinks with her. Christ was moved with pity for her, he had compassion for her. He also tells her truths about herself no one else could know, yet he wasn't repulsed, nor was she offended by his simplicity and straightforwardness. She welcomed him who welcomed her. God assuaged her thirst as she assuaged his, in the 'existential peripheries' of the era, if you will.
The disciples returned, confused and somewhat scandalized that Christ was speaking with a Samaritan - and a woman. Christ had not compromised teaching, the woman herself boasted of that, "He told me everything I ever did!" God met her where she was.
I think that is what the Pope is saying, that is what he means when he says priests "should welcome couples that live together"... While insisting, “The truth must always be told,” not just in the dogmatic sense of the word but in the sense of “love and God’s fullness”. - Citations from Vatican Insider
... in the sense of “love and God’s fullness”. . . the fullness of truth - with compassion.