The Holy Father's conversation with the Jesuits in Chile.
Online, I noticed some photos of a near-empty piazza at the Vatican yesterday for Ash Wednesday. I understood it as an attempt to show how unpopular the Holy Father is, as well as to contrast the size of the crowd with the large crowds who attended Pope Benedict's audiences and liturgical celebrations. That's a very worldly way to judge this pontificate, it is very much how we treat politicians and celebrities - it is not how God judges. Clearly, it is an attempt to shame Pope Francis. Shame is good, however, especially for a Jesuit Pope, as Francis made clear: "we must also remember that shame is also a very Ignatian grace."
The Holy Father's message to the Jesuits in Chile is very revealing of how aware he is of all the hostility there is towards this pontificate.
There are doctrinal resistances. But for my mental health, I do not read the websites of this so-called “resistances”. I know who they are, I know the groups, but I do not read them simply for my mental health. They tell me when there is something very serious, so that I am informed about it. It is regrettable, but we need to move forward. When I perceive resistance, I try to talk, when dialogue is possible; but some resistance comes from people who believe they have the true doctrine and accuse you of being heretical. When I find no spiritual goodness in these people, for what they say or write, I simply pray for them. I feel sorry, but I will not dwell on this feeling for my mental health.
On Amoris laetitia, the exhortation dedicated to marriage and the family, the Pope said, “I believe that one of the things the Church needs most today - and this is very clear in Amoris laetitia’s pastoral perspectives and objectives - is discernment. We are used to “you can or cannot”. I, too, have received during my formation this way of thinking “so far we can, so far we cannot. I don’t know if you remember that Colombian Jesuit who came to teach us morals at the Collegio Massimo; when he talked about the sixth commandment, one dared to ask the question: “Can fiancées kiss each other? If they could kiss each other! Do you understand? And he said, “Yes, they can! There is no problem!They just need to put a handkerchief between them. This is a mindset of “doing theology” in general. A mindset based on limits. And we bear the consequences of this”. - Vatican Insider
As an aside, the Holy Father's anecdote regarding fiances kissing through a handkerchief to illustrate a theology based on limits - or how far you could go without sinning, is something people my age are probably familiar with. For example, as a kid, our pastor always asked the boys in confession if 'touching ourselves' resulted in 'complete self-abuse?' I had no idea what that meant and I asked one of my friends - he said that Father explained it to him pretty much as follows: 'If you have an orgasm, it's a mortal sin, but you can do it up until that point, and it's only a venial sin.' It seems pretty ridiculous now.