In what some would call a dramatic change of pace for the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has said today that the church must stop its “obsession” with Gays, women’s rights and other issues of “morality.” Francis says that issues such as these are “small things” that demand “small-minded rules” and that the church has vastly more important things with which to be concerned with, such as social justice and compassion; issues that many say are reflected in the New Testament. While, they say, morality issues about women’s reproductive rights and gay marriage are not mentioned in any of the gospels.
Pope Francis says that he has been admonished for his views, explaining “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that.”
Many Catholics have expressed disappointment that Francis has not been stronger on these issues, especially when it comes to abortion. They feel he has abandoned the strong stance the church has traditionally taken in relation to women’s reproductive freedom. Francis, however, says that he has already explained his stance on those concerns, and therefore, “it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”
With regard to gay people, Francis states:
By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free. It is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person…We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.
It’s not only gay people who Pope Francis, according to some, appears to be championing, but women as well. While Francis believes that there is no role for women as priests in the church, he says “We must…investigate further the role of women in the Church. We have to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman. Only by making this step will it be possible to better reflect on their function within the Church.”
Of the church’s moral teachings overall, Francis says that imposing church doctrine on people to the exclusion of other concerns has the potential to ruin the “freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.” He says that the church’s leaders and ministry should stop being “obsessed” with imposing moral doctrine.
Pope Francis’ comments are sure to ignite a firestorm of debate among Catholics, especially between those who adhere to more traditional church teachings and those who believe Francis’ comments better reflect the New Testament than have the outlook of previous Popes.
Social media reaction has been largely positive, with comments such as “Finally, some common sense from a Pope!” “Not a big fan of the Catholic Church, but I think I’m digging this Pope Francis fella …,” “Pope Francis is either the world’s coolest Pope or the world’s most conservative hippie.”
Twitter comments were overwhelmingly supportive of Francis, and a search on his name failed to turn up many dissenters. Of course, that could have to do with the younger demographic represented by Twitter users.
Pope Francis has officially warned the church to stop its obsession with gay issues, women’s reproductive rights and other “small minded” moral doctrine. The question is, will the church obey?
By: Rebecca Savastio