Every age has a blind spot, and Pope Francis is moving us towards that uncomfortable spot.
We have gotten very skilled at defining normal with theology. We can explain how things should be and how things will be in Heaven. Unfortunately, we have gotten pitifully bad at proclaiming the good news when things are abnormal and off track. Our theology can morally diagnose the problem, but it does not do a good job of explaining transformative hope when people are stuck in a broken situation.
For example, theology has helped us to understand ideal family life. A family should have two loving parents and healthy children. This family should live in a healthy community with good laws, a nice parish, justice, decent education, good work, and sound liturgy. With this knowledge, we should order things towards this ideal.
Here is the rub: the ideal isn’t the good news. There are people who come to Christ after marrying for the third time. There are children trying to live their faith with abusive parents. There are people suffering from temptations they didn’t choose or can’t shake, and these temptations keep them from attaining the normal. Almost all of these people live with communities, governments, and parishes that are pretty far from the normal ideal too. Christ died for people in these confused situations! Catholicism needs to serve these people too. We can’t let our theology harden our hearts with “shoulds” and ideals. Our theology needs to help us be saved within our abnormal situation, and it should hels give Christian joy and hope to others in their abnormal situations.