The Pope who wasn’t there, but wait! There he is! Pope Francis on an airplane.

Giving his views on communion for politicians who support abortion, Francis calls it casuistry to say yes or no, preferring his pastoral approach. Actually, it’s the other way around, as in my 1994 book, Bending the Rules:What American Priests Tell American Catholics, in effect a study of casuistry employed for pastoral reasons.

This writer, Andrea Gagliarducci, in his “Monday Vatican” blog, puts the question, “Pope Francis, what is your approach to theological questions?” and concludes:

A synthesis would be necessary, but this is not only not offered by Pope Francis. It does not seem to be on the horizon. Pastoral care and doctrine are mixed with pragmatism, and in the end, it is difficult to understand what is the right or wrong thing to do.

He disguises it, ignoring his wholly critical role as Supreme Pontiff. “In the end,” says Gagliarducci,

. . . a sense of the Church is missing, a common point of view, while the Pope remains always at the center, loved or hated, but certainly the only decision-maker. With his choices, words, and ambiguities mixed with certainties and doctrinal orthodoxy, Pope Francis is not just a divisive Pope. He is a Pope at the center of attention. While the Church, to tell the truth, seems to be disappearing.

A damning analysis when you get down to it.