would be to direct his teaching and speaking energies to the secular world which is either skeptical about the Church or downright opposed to it. The goal is bring about conversions from an unsuspecting society. An external approach crafts communicative missives to the skeptics, world leaders, and enemies of Christianity.Marshall is convinced that the needs of the Church are such that, for his part, he would advise Francis to give more attention to the "sheep in the fold and less attention on distracting the wolves outside."
John 10:16). That could be the leit-motif of Francis' papacy.
Marshall is right: there are wolves out there. But mostly there are "sheep that are not of this flock" and Pope Francis, as Vicar of Christ, is their shepherd, too. A pastor who started his pontificate talking about the "smell of the sheep" can be expected to not just smell like the wandering flock, but speak their language. And that language is not Church lingo, not subtle, certainly not philosophically precise, but personal: meant to create a question, an opening in the heart of any (any at all) who hear; to start a real conversation, not a press conference; to break through complacence or to challenge assumptions. Certainly the rabbit remark went to the heart of many cultural assumptions, which is precisely why it stung faithful Catholics who are often on the receiving end of remarks like that. They are used to hearing such dismissive words on the part of critics; to hear the Pope himself use them must have been profoundly disconcerting, even if he was, in effect, quoting Church critics in order to affirm what the devout have been living (often heroically) all along.
As he goes out beyond the clear markers of the Catholic fold, Francis seems to be counting on the faithful to hold fast to the solid doctrine they have learned and taken to heart, interpreting his off-the-cuff remarks only and always in the light of the Catechism, the teachings of his predecessors, and (above all) the Gospel. It is abundantly clear that he is not going to repeat comforting messages for practicing Catholics when there are souls on the edge of a precipice. Francis is not speaking to the ages, as many Pontiffs before him, but to the person he is with, at the moment of the encounter, and he trusts that we are listening in with a "Catholic" ear.
The word "pontiff" means "bridge builder." How is Pope Francis' non-pontifical approachability actually an exercise of the pontifical ministry? How is he working to "gather into unity all the scattered children of God" (John 11:52)?