At the coffee shop Topsy and Tuptim are discussing Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhoration Amoris Laetitia:
Topsy: (Handing Tuptim the New York Times and Washington Post) Have you read the pope's exhortation yet? The New York Times says the pope wants to "unhinge" the "mentality of rules." The Post said (Picks it up and reads) he "stopped short of changing church laws, while strongly hinting that he wanted to." Wow!
Tuptim: (Snickering a little) It was just released yesterday and it's over 250 pages long. I bet the reporters who wrote the articles haven't read it. I just gave it a quick once over myself.
Topsy: I haven't even had a chance to do that yet. So what do you think? The headlines I've seen sure don't look good! He obviously can't change doctrine, but if he makes conscience king and makes every priest a pope -- well, who needs to change doctrine when you just encourage people to follow their own worldly-formed consciences? Is that what he's doing?
Tuptim: Here's my take. Chapters 1-7 and Chapter 9 - We already know all that! Chapter 8 - The media has already proclaimed what Francis really wants.
Topsy: And that is?
Tuptim: Exactly what the Times and the Post said. Follow your own conscience. It looks like one more ambiguous document that will undermine doctrine without changing it. We know how that follow-your-conscience thing worked out with the birth control issue. Many Catholics just ignore the teaching. Divorced couples can now fish around for liberal priests who'll tell them to pray and follow their consciences on whether to go to Communion or not. Although they're probably doing that already.
Topsy: Gosh, what does that do to the indissolubility of marriage? Living in adultery is no longer a mortal sin? I mean you can't go to Communion in mortal sin, right? So, if it's okay to go to Communion, you must not be in mortal sin and adultery is really no longer a grievous issue.
Tuptim: (Shrugs) It's already happening. A friend of mine says her dad and step mom are in an invalid marriage and go to Communion. Hey, it can't be wrong when it feeeeels so right. So on to one thing I did pick up that Francis said which is true. On page 78 he said that "a kind look is essential." Not all the time of course because there are times when one should not smile and be kindly, like Christ chasing everyone out of the Dome of the Rock...er...I mean the Temple. But in my everyday contact with people with tattoos ALL OVER their bodies - standing in line at the grocery, at the local mall, etc...or with the Muslim guys who own the mall (seriously...ViaPort out of Istanbul), or with the poverty stricken homeless sitting on the corner (I do give them money because if they want a drink, so be it), or Mexican immigrants, or whoever, I always smile at them.
Topsy: Me too! Especially the clerk at the grocery store with the pierced lip, nose, and eyebrow. I have to really struggle not to shake my head though.
Tuptim: I started this several years ago one day in the grocery line when a
Topsy: What a neat story!
Tuptim: So I started smiling at everyone if they happen to look while passing by on the street, in the mall, etc. The Mexicans look furtively then break out in a wide glorious smile...because probably they get so many bad vibes from rednecks.
Topsy: Hey, no dissing rednecks. I live around a bunch and many of them are the salt of the earth.
Tuptim: Oops, guess I forgot for a minute to look for their humanity. Of course I always smile at my fellow shoppers when I'm at Goodwill and thrift stores, not only because I'm so happy to be there looking for treasures, but because most of them are poor and the poor have less social structures to break through to get to their essence. (Laughs) Of course, I'm poor too...or else I wouldn't still be working to pay bills...so basically I smile because we are all on the same level. We compare "finds" and say - "What do you think this is?"
Topsy: (Laughing and showing Tuptim a photo on her phone) Somebody needs to read the pope's statement to POTUS.