Today on Fresh Air James Carroll discusses Pope Francis' “radical” first year. Carroll wrote an article in The New Yorker about Pope Francis’ departure from traditional Church positions. For example, he explains the Pope’s attitude toward communion:
"He talked about the Catholic sacrament of the Eucharist, communion, in a very different way from the way in which his predecessors … have been talking about it. Communion has been treated as food for those who are not hungry. Food for the well-fed, food for the well-behaved. Popes and bishops have used the sacrament of the Eucharist, the mass, as a kind of boundary marker. You’re in if you obey all the rules and you’re out if you don’t. If you’re not a Catholic, if you’re a Protestant not in communion with the papacy, if you’re a divorced and remarried Catholic, if you’re using birth control, if you’ve committed any of the long list of sins that have been emphasized over the years, don’t go to communion.
… The word excommunication refers to being outside of communion. Pope Francis speaks in a very different way. He said, quite explicitly, the Church is not a toll house; we’re not interested in having a barrier here that has to be raised for those who are worthy. No, communion is for people who are hungry. … It’s for those who are not whole so that they can become whole.”