Reconnecting the Church with the energy of Vatican II may be Pope Francis’s greatest achievement, Cardinal Donald Wuerl tells America magazine.
He said the Pope has “picked up where we left off” on Vatican II themes of collegiality and synodality and has refocused the Church on “a moral theology that rests on scripture and Jesus’ command to love” and on “an evangelising discipleship”.
“I think his great contribution to date has been the reconnecting of the Church with the energy of the Second Vatican Council, the energy coming out of that council,” Cardinal Wuerl said.
“I think what happened next was that following the council there were some exaggerations. Theologically there was the hermeneutic of discontinuity; liturgically there were all kinds of experimentation. And in a way what got lost was the council’s call for us to return our focus to the primacy of love as the engine driving the Church, her teaching and her outreach.
“John Paul II was the great refocusing moment in the life of the Church to get us back on track and say no to the exaggerations and discontinuity. Pope Benedict put the nail in the coffin on the discontinuity. Now comes Pope Francis who’s saying, ‘Why don’t we pick up where we left off: collegiality, synodality.’
“If I had to say what were Francis’s great accomplishments to date, I would say was that one was the refocusing of the Church to speak and look much more like the Gospel and then to invite bishops once again to take their responsible role in the life of the Church.
“In the process, of course, Francis is changing the papacy.”
In the wide-ranging interview given at the North American College in Rome on February 22, Cardinal Wuerl also commented on the Pope’s post-synodal magisterial document on the family Amoris Laetitia, the opposition Pope Francis has experienced and the US Church’s stance regarding migrants in the face of challenges from the Trump administration.