Pope Francis, the spiritual leader of the world’s Roman Catholics, gave a frank interview last week to a Jesuit journal, the order in which he served as a priest prior to his election last year as Pope.
Significant in his remarks was the observation that the Roman Catholic Church should concern itself less with the issues of abortion, homosexuality and the practice of contraception.
Pope Francis stopped well short of lending countenance to abortion, homosexual orientation and contraception, instead telling the magazine’s reporter that the church has become “obsessed” with these issues to the detriment of its larger mission to be a big tent, home for all.
The new Pope’s remarks are a significant departure from the views of his predecessors who were much more inclined to focus on issues regarding contraception, gay rights and abortion as complete anathema to the traditional teachings of the church.
In his remarks to the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica, based in Rome, Pope Francis certainly did not condone abortion and the other issues that have concerned his church for most of the late last century. Rather, he indicated that prayer for the understanding and tolerance of the human condition would perhaps be a more appropriate course of action.
While the Pope stopped well short of accepting these issues that have hindered the Roman Catholic Church’s march into modernity and have given it a doctrinaire label, his remarks hint broadly that the world’s largest Christian organization is recognizing that, in spite of scriptural references that seem to support the church’s views on these issues, it should begin to come to terms with the realization that human beings are created to reflect a wide variety of different natures with a dizzying number of inborn needs.
Pope Francis’ suggestions that the church of which he is the leader is dwelling too much on issues pertaining to abortion, homosexuality and contraception would seem to be a significant step beyond merely “loving the sinner but hating the sin” which has been this church’s, and many others besides, simplistic way of dealing with the complexities of human nature.
Pope Francis’ interview represents a significant change from the Roman Catholic Church’s long-held official line and it is one that must be welcomed by people from liberal and conservative religious traditions alike as it is clearly a considered effort by this religious leader to move not only his own large organization, but hopefully other faith groups as well, into the reality that recognizes the human condition spans a very wide river of emotional needs.