Are the words of Pope Francis in his surprise Apostolic Letter on Saint Jerome an indication of his future teachings?
Pope Francis: “For Jerome, the Church of Rome is the fertile ground where the seed of Christ bears abundant fruit. At a turbulent time in which the seamless garment of the Church was often torn by divisions among Christians, Jerome looked to the Chair of Peter as a sure reference point. “As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but Your Holiness, that is, with the Chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the Church is built”. At the height of the controversy with the Arians, he wrote to Damasus: “He that does not gather with you scatters; he that is not of Christ is of antichrist”. Consequently Jerome could also state: “He who is united to the Chair of Peter is one with me”.” [Devotion to Sacred Scripture]
Today is a turbulent time. The seamless garment of the Church today is seemingly torn by divisions among Catholics. Francis asks us to look to the Chair of Peter as a sure reference point. He also, elsewhere, notes the sometimes harsh language of Jerome, as necessarily an expression of his intense devotion to truth. Thus, Francis is saying that he is about to use some seemingly harsh language, necessary to defend the unity of the Church, and the supreme authority of Peter.