The Sept. 20, simplistic and grossly misleading headline, "Pope criticizes church focus on abortion, gays," would have you believe the pope is abandoning not only Catholic teaching and tradition but Scripture as well. Of course he can do no such thing - nor would he. Pope Francis, as any pope does, asserts his own unique pastoral tone and emphasis-he is not attempting to change or tweak (nor could he) the magisterial teaching of the church on marriage or abortion. And no - he is not "leaving doctrine behind."
Progressives, both within and without the Church, would like you to believe that mercy and truth may somehow be separated when it comes to these two crucial issues - that they can subsist without each other. But Francis, like his predecessor, has time and again taught that both are essential and always and everywhere inseparable. He himself has often quoted the encounter of Christ with the adulterous woman to illustrate this unity. True enough, the emphasis in this passage is on God's limitless mercy, while those in the viewing audience who would condemn this woman are firmly dismissed. But, after He frees her from the hypocritical condemnation of others, Jesus quietly and privately tells the woman to "go and sin no more."
Mercy and truth can never be cut off from one another without both losing their integrity since together they comprise the fullness of who God is. Those who would attempt to hijack the pope for their own agendas (left or right) risk profound disappointment.