The “key for the church is to welcome, not exclude.”
Pope Francis (2013)
The key for the Church is, rather, to possess something so desirable that people will charge a machine-gun nest to get it. In my youth I went to nightclubs to see bands play what I fondly imagined was great music. Those nightclubs were extremely unwelcoming. The bouncers were surly, the floors were filthy, the air was noxious, and price of drinks was shamelessly extortionate.
But those nightclubs were packed because they had THE BAND.
Friendly is not enough. Everyone learns this at a personal level soon enough. The world is full of friendly people who also happen to be vacuous, vapid and void of additional attractions. (Evidently the world is full of people who find me to be one of these people, for I am pretty friendly but not oversupplied with friends. (There is, of course, the possibility that people find, behind my friendliness, not a man who is vacuous, vapid and void of additional attractions, but rather a man who is vicious, villainous and vile.))
People go to church to meet GOD, not to make friends with the unprepossessing riffraff who clutter up the pews. I went to those appalling nightclubs to see THE BAND, not to make friends with the degenerates between whom I was squeezed. If GOD is in the church, there is no need for a grinning usher to open the door, pump your hand, and invite you to the free pancake breakfast after the service. If GOD is in the church, people will break down the door, push the usher out of the way, and go without breakfast (or lunch for that matter (cf. the story of the loaves and fishes)).
On the other hand, if there is nothing in the church but riffraff, bad music and a funny smell, no amount of grinning, handshaking, or free pancake breakfasts will lure people in.
Friendly is not enough.
Francis said that welcoming is the key when he first took possession of the Keys, seven years ago. The quote has resurfaced because dingbat reporters need to contrast Sweet Francis with Sour Benedict, the occasion of this need being a report of Benedict’s ongoing failure to swallow the sexual revolution. That is the liberal Catholic diagnosis of what ails the Church, after all. If it would just swallow the sexual revolution and ordain women, wed homosexuals, and see God’s mercy at work in the many-colored cloak of serial monogamy, they assure us that pews would be packed (not to mention offering boxes).
If I may revert to my original analogy, this is just like a lousy nightclub that has no cover charge, no dress code, and no reason whatsoever for anyone to come inside. I say BOOK THE BAND and forget about everything else.