I wrote a post a week ago about Pope Francis and how much I've started to like him. Well, the more Pope Francis talks about the church of today, the more my fondness grows.
Pope Francis, in the first extensive interview of his six-month-old papacy, said that the Roman Catholic Church had grown “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he has chosen not to speak of those issues despite recriminations from some critics.
In remarkably blunt language, Francis sought to set a new tone for the church, saying it should be a “home for all” and not a “small chapel” focused on doctrine, orthodoxy and a limited agenda of moral teachings.
“It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,” the pope told the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, a fellow Jesuit and editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal whose content is routinely approved by the Vatican.
“The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.
“We have to find a new balance,” the pope continued, “otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”
I grew up Catholic, as you guys know, and today's church looks and teaches nothing like what I learned as a child. It jumped on the wingnut anti-abortion platform with all the extra trimmings and never got off. I never understood how they could only focus on matters of the icky sex thing and drop everything else. I imagine it was very lucrative financially (because we've seen how wealthy these supposed men of God in America have become by fundraising on this issue), but it appears that's changing under Pope Francis. They aren't going to change their doctrine into now becoming pro-choice, but they may become more human and relevant in the world to those that have faith in Catholicism if the rest of the church heeds his words.
There will be those who object, but they will lose out to Francis in the end.
The admonition is likely to have sharp reverberations in the United States, where some bishops have already publicly voiced dismay that Francis hasn't hammered home church teaching on abortion, contraception and homosexuality — areas of the culture wars where U.S. bishops often put themselves on the front lines.
As a non-religious outsider, the extreme focus on issues related to sex and sexuality by the catholic church (and other denominations) has just been weird, especially given the lack of support in scripture for some of it. It's as if morality had been reduced to some concept of sexual morality.
Now I know that isn't true in every church and doesn't come from every priest, but it has been the public face of religion in this country for most of my life.