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No, not nuns. Not married priests. Not LGBT issues. Not birth control. Not abortion.

But today he did say something extraordinary.

In a homily on the "culture of encounter," he said:

"The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can. He must. Not can: must! Because he has this commandment within him. Instead, this ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God. That we can kill in the name of God. And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.”
When Francis was elected, I wrote an essay for the Atlantic that parsed his choice of name. I wrote:
The seeming ease with which the cardinals converged on this man and his choice of the name Francis gives me hope that Pope Francis will focus on healing wounds and living up to the promise of Vatican II. Both saints were men who believed in dialogue as opposed to diatribe. They travelled, they preached, but they also listened. They sought to rebuild and reinvigorate a church tangled up in secular concerns. I hope Pope Francis can live up to the best parts of the examples set by those whose name he has chosen to take.
When Cardinal O'Malley, of Boston, boycotted the Boston College commencement (over abortion), I wrote in another essay:
Absolutism is dangerous. It divides and discourages discussion. We live in a complex world in which new lines of division fall not between holders of different beliefs, but between those willing to engage in dialogue and those who descend into the silent surety of their perfect understanding.
By defining and embracing the "culture of encounter," Pope Francis has made it clear that he is interested in dialogue, in including, not excluding, and that doing good matters more than going to a specific church. It is a profoundly modern, progressive, and hopeful statement.

I'll stick around to chat in comments, of course, if people are interested. But please consider following me on Twitter (@Lollardfish), my public facebook page, or my blog: How Did We Get Into this Mess?

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