In essence, "you're always looking for what is the spirit of the law: why does the law exist, what it is, what is it trying to do?"
What can be done is to "have people trained in what the rules are, why they exist, and how to help these people engage that system in a way that can contribute toward their holiness, to their growth in conforming to Christ."
Fr. Reedy said that for him, one problem he sees in the Church right now is that some people, in their interpretation of the Pope's actions, are "trying to put on the table, calling under the umbrella of discernment, the actual consideration of sins, of evils."
"I've never gotten the sense that that is what Francis is saying," he reflected, explaining that in his view, given Francis' background, what he is is trying to do is to "train people in this: in the proper camp of moral reasoning, which extends from permitted all the way to transformative, how to help people function there in a way that can be messy, but also prevent them from crossing the line into what is forbidden."
But what about Francis' ambiguity? Is that a Jesuit thing?
Part of the confusion surrounding Pope Francis' sayings and writings is that his language can frequently be ambiguous and imprecise, leaving people scratching their heads trying to figure out what he actually meant.
But for Fr. Reedy, this isn't a Jesuit quality so much as it is a personal limitation of the Vicar of Christ.
"Francis is a complicated character. He's not a precise theologian, so I think some of the ambiguity and imprecision just comes from his own training and background, which the Church just has to be patient with," he said.
Secondly, the priest said that if we reflect on scripture, we see that the Pope uses a style that is very similar to what Christ himself often used, especially when he senses a "Pharisaical attitude."
"When he senses that somebody's asking a question in order to pin something down in a way he fears is going to hurt somebody else" Francis gets obscure, he said, explaining that the Pope is "very sensitive" to having doctrine "turned into a weapon of sorts."
And so was Christ, he said, noting that "Jesus had very harsh words for those people." Even though the Pharisees were technically faithful, upstanding Jews, "they also had a problem in the way that the viewed law; they saw the law first and the needs of the people second, and Jesus challenged that and so is Pope Francis."
"I think people should stop pretending that Jesus was crystal-clear when he said things all the time," Fr. Reedy said, noted that Christ "specifically said at times that he was intentionally being confusing. He would say that he was using parables so those other people over there wouldn't understand – he would say that."
However, even though Christ could at times speak cryptically, he was clear when pressed on important topics, such as the Eucharist and the meaning behind his words "this is my body," and that to enter eternal life his disciples must "eat my flesh and drink my blood."
So when it comes to Pope Francis, Fr. Reedy said people have to take into account "the Jesus-like way he teaches," which he said is often at play in the Pope's speeches.
But there is also an element of manipulation when it comes to the Pope's ambiguity which must be addressed.
"I think (the Pope's) ambiguity is being manipulated," Fr. Reedy said, explaining that in these cases, "I think we need to continue to push for greater clarity."
This doesn't mean we'll get the clarity immediately, he said, but when it comes to particularly problematic issues "we need clarity. We need a line to be drawn saying we're not talking about Catholic divorce."
This isn't referring to somebody "who was in a valid marriage just rupturing that marriage, pretending it's dissolvable against the explicit words of Jesus, and just starting a new one and saying that's okay."
"We're not talking about that … I don't think we are, I don't think the Pope is," he said, because if we look to the rules of discernment of St. Ignatius of Loyola, "I don't think we can legitimately discern that."
"So I'm confident that that's not what the Pope is saying and I think that we should continue to ask for clarity, but not rush to clarity so that we can feel good about ourselves."
What is needed, he said, is "to defend the truth so that we can become good."