Pope Francis is refashioning the exercise of doctrinal teaching authority in the church. There should be no question of the pope’s fidelity to church teaching; by any account Francis must be considered a doctrinal conservative. Many Catholics, on the left and the right, by thinking of the magisterium in a largely juridical key, focus far too much on the pope’s authority to officially pronounce on doctrinal matters. Conservatives fear he will change vital church doctrine and liberals want him to change doctrine more aggressively. However, the real question is not whether Francis agrees with doctrine “X” or wishes to change doctrine “Y.” What we should be asking is, how does Francis situate doctrine in the life of the church and how does he enact a dynamic and pastoral teaching authority in keeping with this understanding?
Source: Commonweal Magazine