In an interview last week, Pope Francis I shocked the world with his comments regarding the Roman Catholic Church’s stance on issues concerning gays and abortion. The pope said in an interview that the church is “obsessed” with these issues and that he was critical of Catholics putting these doctrines before love. He has chosen not to address these issues even though many Catholics want him to.
Francis’ comments signal a shift in the priorities and overall philosophy of the Catholic Church, which may eventually lead to broader acceptance. While the church has a long way to go regarding the acceptance of gay and women’s choice issues, the pope’s comments are a step in the right direction.
It may be hard to imagine a world in which the Catholic Church is completely understanding and accepting of these social issues, but the fact that Francis made these comments is astounding. It is a huge change that the church has never seen. He called for action and said that he wanted the church to be a “home for all.”
While important members of the Catholic Church have often said in the past that we are all God’s children and that the church is for everyone, it has often been behind the curve regarding important social issues including sexuality and contraception.
Francis’ comments have paved new possibilities for not only his papacy and the church but for other religions and people all over the world as well. Hopefully, others will replicate his willingness to abandon outdated stances.
One thing that has not been brought up too much is the bravery of such an interview. Of course the pope will have millions supporting his actions and decisions, but his grand gesture is at odds with the opinions and ideals of many members of the church. Not to mention it goes directly against the former Pope Benedict’s vision of a tighter, homogenous church.
Some have criticized the pope, however, for not providing women the same positions in the church that are available to men. Despite the progress made by Francis in his short tenure as pope, this is one area in which the church is still drastically behind. Although given his progressivism thus far, it is not inconceivable that women will be allowed the rights that they have historically been denied by the church.
I will compare it to voting rights in the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries. As any history book will tell you, black men had the Constitutional right to vote in 1870, and women were granted this right in 1920. In this battle in the 19th century, many did not want to grant black men the right to vote until women could vote as well.
Historians argue that because of the way it worked out, perhaps the black males’ right to vote paved a way of later tolerance and acceptance of women’s right to vote 50 years later. Even though Francis did not directly address the issue, based on his recent comments, I’d say that it is likely that more changes are in the making for the Catholic Church.