UPDATE: I first published this on October 17 2015. On rereading it, I feel that (even in a period in which ecclesiastical politics have moved entertainingly fast) it has aged really quite remarkably well, although I say so myself as shouldn't. The last, italicised, paragraph at the foot seems to me even more relevant after Amoris laetitia (especially paragraphs 301 and 302) than when I wrote it before AL.
I have been very impressed by the views of some American called Cupich. He shares, enthusiastically, the attitude of our beloved Holy Father on the marginalised, the rejected, the despised. He lists "the elderly, divorced and remarried, gay and lesbian individuals and couples. I think that we really need to get to to know what their life is like if we're to accompany them ". I have to say that I think he has a point which it is very hard to argue against. (Mind you, I think I know quite a lot of 'elderly' people who would turn nasty at being bracketed with rest of those in the list, but that just goes to show much further we have to go before the Bergoglio Revolution has finally arrived at its triumphant conclusion and what a grumpy lot we elderly are.)
Cupich adds ... goodness, what a sensitive pastor he is ... "If people come to a decision in good faith then our job is to help them move forward and to respect that. The conscience is inviolable and we have to respect that when they make decisions, and I have always done that". (I think he has in mind the reception of communion by these marginalised groups.)
There is one group which he has not mentioned, but which ... he is such a very sensitive pastor ... I am quite sure Cupich must also have in mind. Paedophiles. And, especially, paedophile priests. This latter sub-group must be the unhappiest of the lot. In addition to the calumnies that all paedophiles undergo, there is the additional ignominy heaped upon them. Even as gentle an individual as Papa Ratzinger referred to them as "filth" ... goodness, what a hard and rigid and uninclusive and rule-bound and unforgiving person he was. Thank goodness we now have a Pope whose policy is Mercy. Although, come to think of it, I don't recall that paedophiles have ever occurred on Pope Francis' lists of those deserving of Mercy, although of course he has sometimes done what he can by favouring and promoting those who protected paedophile clergy. But, come to think even more of it, I'm not sure how often I've noticed him including paedophile priests among those he is specially determined to embrace publicly in front of the world's cameras. [UPDATE: On 2 January 2017 Pope Francis spoke again about the importance of zero-tolerance with regard to paedophile priests, but without offering any guidance about the means of exercising Mercy towards those who are zerolly tolerated.] And ... a liturgical question ... does he wash their feet on Maundy Thursday? And if not, why not? [UPDATE: He wouldn't have needed to change the rubrics to do that.] But I'm sure he must have them in mind. That is probably why he is sending out these Missionaries of Mercy to absolve everybody and everything without question. Thankfully, these very up-market Absolution-machines will not make unmerciful and rigid remarks like "I think you ought to hand yourself in to the police and make a full confession to them before I can absolve you" ... the sort of thing that hard-faced and rule-bound clergy might have considered saying before the onset of the Pontificate of Mercy. [Update: Irony here!]
Back, finally, to the exemplary Cupich. I am sure that it must be paedophiles that he particularly has in mind when he says "I think we have to make sure that we don't pigeonhole one group as though they are not part of the human family, as though there's a different set of rules for them. That would be a big mistake".
Wotta Pastor!! I'm impressed to think of all the time Cupich must spend going around and 'getting to know' paedophiles and 'what their life is like', so that he can 'accompany them' as, buoyed up by their 'inviolable consciences', they 'move forward'.
Cupich for Cardinal, that's what I say. Would anybody like to estimate how long it will be? [UPDATE: it didn't take very long, did it? Bergoglio, poor old thing, is so naively transparent, isn't he?]
My point was that there is a tendency among some members of the Church to view with ostentatious sympathy certain groups (remarried divocees; 'monogamous and caring' homosexuals), while leaving paedophiles as the one group to whom no mercy need be shown. For everybody, there are extenuating circumstances; there is the Gospel teaching that nobody is beyond the scope of God's mercy. Except for ... er ... [UPDATE: Damian Thompson has recently written about this subject in the Spectator, in his usual measured and, er, restrained way.]