What does this mean? "United in our differences: this is the way of Jesus!"
It is from Pope Francis' homily this morning at the "Pallium Mass", like much of what he says there is often a great deal of ambiguity. All Popes, I am told right back to the 3rd century, have removed their own shoes, on taking on their sacred office and put on Peter's shoes, the shoes of their predecessors, Francis deliberately chose to abandon this highly symbolic and scriptural act. We have become accustomed to Pope's proclaiming the faith and expecting others to unite themselves to that that which is proclaimed, is Pope Francis now intending to extend the concept of "legitimate diversity".
Is he saying that rather than teaching doctrine we should be simply trying to teach a deep relationship with Jesus Christ; that doctrine is unimportant, that unity is more important than the content of believe?
Many would say that this is essence of contemporary Christianity, simply a relationship. For many Bishops that is extremely attractive form of Catholicism, it means that Catholicism is simply somehow a quasi-political hodge-podge of social doctrines, of being "good" but actually ultimately denying the Trinity, which can contain both the pro- and anti-, supporters of gay marriage and their opponents or supporters of abortion and there opponents, right through to supporters of the Divinity of Christ and their opponents. It is what some would call Catholicism-Lite.
In reality that is the Church of today, and it is something which the vast majority of Bishops seem happy to go along with. It is certainly one reading of such VII documents as Gaudium et Spes. In Francis own teaching he seems to give a vision of what Christianity offers but is quite resistant to condemning that which is contrary to it. Like many Pastors we can be pro-life but never condemned abortion or those who propose, pro-marriage but only quietly condemn those who attack it.
Are we being given a new understanding of Catholicism or just stating what is or have I got the wrong end of the stick?
Certainly Francis is much more popular than his predecessor who was presented as the condemning "rottweiller".
Here is the context of the phrase, the whole sermon can be found here:
To confirm in unity. Here I would like to reflect for a moment on the rite which we have carried out. The pallium is a symbol of communion with the Successor of Peter, “the lasting and visible source and foundation of the unity both of faith and of communion” (Lumen Gentium, 18). And your presence today, dear brothers, is the sign that the Church’s communion does not mean uniformity. The Second Vatican Council, in speaking of the hierarchical structure of the Church, states that the Lord “established the apostles as college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from their number” (ibid., 19). And it continues, “this college, in so far as it is composed of many members, is the expression of the variety and universality of the people of God” (ibid., 22). In the Church, variety, which is itself a great treasure, is always grounded in the harmony of unity, like a great mosaic in which every small piece joins with others as part of God’s one great plan. This should inspire us to work always to overcome every conflict which wounds the body of the Church. United in our differences: this is the way of Jesus! The pallium, while being a sign of communion with the Bishop of Rome and with the universal church, also commits each of you to being a servant of communion.