Pope Francis, elected in March, called out the Catholic Church’s focus on Gay Marriage, Abortion and Contraception Issues, saying, “The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”
In recent years, The Catholic Church’s reputation has been put on the line amidst negative reports and scandals. The church has also been criticized for “fail[ing] to adapt to the modern world.” According to a 2011 study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, out of every 10 Americans, one is an ex-Catholic, and one of three people who were raised Catholic no longer affiliates themselves with the Church.
“Catholics Come Home” a movement founded by Tom Peterson, is an example of an effort of Catholics to bring back disillusioned faithful, who in Pope Francis’s words, leave “under the illusion of alternative ideas’ who mistakenly think that the Church ‘can no longer offer them anything meaningful and important.'” But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Pope Francis, who has surprised and impressed the world with his radical declarations and is making an impact in his leadership, has positively influenced people’s stance towards the church since his election in March. Writing for Forbes.com, Margie Warrell describes her positive feelings towards the pope and the papacy. “Like so many other Catholics and ex-Catholics, I have found myself feeling a mixture of surprise, delight, relief, hope and curiosity since Pope Francis was elected as the Pontiff in March.”
The progressive pope is quoted as saying in a press conference in July, “A gay person who is seeking God, who is of good will — well, who am I to judge him?” Adapting an attitude of love and acceptance towards homosexuals, he is now resolutely speaking against the Catholic Church’s “obsessive” focus on preaching about abortion, gay marriage and contraception. The pope has not spoken much about these issues and has been criticized for it. Now, instead of speaking about the issues themselves, he brings up the more important issue of the church’s approach to them.
The pope’s controversial reframing of the church’s approach to reconciling spiritual and political matters was first published in La Civiltà Cattolica, a Vatican-approved Italian Jesuit journal. In the interview, he told Rev. Antonio Spadaro, editor in chief of the Jesuit publication, “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.” The pope goes on to say, “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, 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.”
The pope also spoke openly on his attitude towards homosexuality. Referring to his previous statements about not judging gays, he asserted, “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.” He also stated, “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: “Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person? We must always consider the person.”
In the same interview, the pope referred to himself as a “sinner” when asked, “Who is Jorge Mario Bergolio?” Although it is certainly not a new theological idea, being that the Catholic Church teaches that we are all born with “original sin,” CNN Belief blog co-editor Eric Marrapodi says that “the pope describing himself foremost as “sinner” is striking.”
In another report, a gay catholic man claims that Pope Francis called him to “offer support,” in reply to a letter sent to the Pontiff about his troubles and struggles as a homosexual. However, official spokesman for the pope Father Federico Lombardi denied the claim. “The only time the Pope has called France was to speak to Cardinal Barbarin.”