Pope Francis told US bishops their job is to step back from partisan politics and help their faithful discern political choices based on values. Source: America Magazine.
Meeting the bishops of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas on Monday, Pope Francis mentioned how, in an election, “you sometimes seem to be caught, you know, are you going to vote in one sense for a snake or you going to vote for a dragon?”, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said.
The Pope’s advice to the bishops was “teach your people discernment by you stepping back from the sheer politics of it” and focus on the values at stake, Cardinal DiNardo told CNS. “If you try to step back and say, ‘but here are the major moral issues that we face,’ that’s what is most important.”
The region’s 26 bishops, including auxiliaries and retired bishops, spent about two-and-a-half hours talking with Francis in English and Spanish. The Pope responded in Italian so his aide could translate the responses into English.
The topics were wide-ranging and included the clerical sexual abuse crisis, migration, the challenges of a media-permeated culture and forming Christian consciences, especially in a time of deep political divisions.
Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas, said all of those issues were important, but for him the key was listening to the Pope and being listened to him by him.
Pope Francis is attentive to and knows the pastoral challenges posed by modern social media and their pervasive presence in many people’s lives, said Bishop Flores, a daily Twitter user. But Francis has “a calmness about how we address that,” mainly by remaining true to the identity as pastors, proclaiming the Gospel and encouraging people to act according to it.
“The narrative” that Pope Francis and many of the US bishops “are on different pages,” Bishop Flores said, is “overblown.”
Sometimes that impression may arise when a bishop reacts to a news or social media report about something the Pope has said. “It is our responsibility to hear him in his own words and to resist the temptation that sometimes hits across the spectrum of the Church to jump to a conclusion because of some line that was quoted here or there.”