February 12.  Although there have always been challenges, May considered how these days people are a lot more sceptical. They want proof and do not accept statements of belief without a satisfactory explanation for them.  Ecology is a case in point. There are sceptics and fanatics.   Questioning may be out of idle curiosity but frequently there is an honest need for greater understanding that cannot always or easily be met, as in some issues around climate change  and in nature. There are human pastoral challenges concerning marriage and natural law, family planning and gender roles in the church.   A current example is the issue of blessings. The document  Fiducia Supplicans permits blessings of couples in irregular marriage situations.  It can be taken as a simple sign of God’s loving concern – as Pope Francis clearly does – or many see it as causing confusion, and so not as a helpful sign.  People do want and deserve clarity.  No doubt this makes Pope Francis and many other church leaders sigh too as Jesus did in his day.   

Reflect, share, Scripture:  The Pharisees came seeking a sign from heaven to test him. And Jesus sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.”  Mark 8:11-13.  Pope Francis:  Discernment must help to find possible ways of responding to God and growing in the midst of limits.  By thinking that everything is black and white we sometimes close off the way of grace and of growth and discourage paths of sanctification which give glory to God.  AL305.  Pray: for openness to the pastoral approach and mind of Pope Francis. Choose appropriate action: study the document referred to above.