Pope Changes the Focus for Catholics

The head of the Catholic Church as well as the Holy See, an observer member of the UN, takes a different tack on controversial social issues, aiming to be a “home of all, not a small chapel”:

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.”

via Pope Bluntly Faults Church’s Focus on Gays and Abortion – NYTimes.com.


8 thoughts on “Pope Changes the Focus for Catholics”

  1. The English version of the original interview with Pope Francis can be found at: http://www.americamagazine.org/pope-interview
    When the Pope was asked about himself he said, “I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.” Pope Francis has been characterized by being less dogmatic than past Popes. However, in my opinion, he is not out to change doctrine. His goal is to help change the way people treat people.

  2. The Pope’s statement both surprised and impressed me. The ever wise “Dear Abby” once said, “The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.” Pope Francis is embracing this idea which I think is in fact the point of religion. We strive for perfection — we aren’t already perfect otherwise there would be no point. Although religions should not change the foundations upon which they are built, religions must change with society or be left behind. Religions absolutely must keep up-to-date — most especially with social issues. I do not think that Pope Francis is trying to destroy the purity of the Catholic church, rather I think he is, very respectably, trying to keep it relevant and a religion that people could need in their lives. He is trying to keep the religion he heads pure religion like it should be. The point of the Catholic faith is not to address and continually fight social issues, rather it is to bring believers closer to God. Pope Francis, in my opinion, is merely doing a bit of a course correction back to the straight and narrow of what the Catholic Church was meant to be in the first place.

  3. I love Pope Francis and I love that he is willing and ready to accept anyone into his fold. A church as old and prominent as the catholic church cannot afford to keep its old fashioned views on society. In order for a church to really grow and prosper, it must be adaptable. The LDS church demonstrated its adaptability at the time of the pioneers when the Kirtland temple was burned down and the members just picked up their stuff and moved on to try again somewhere else. Pope Francis is making the Catholic church more modern and relevant by adapting to the new social norms of the 21st century. Besides, the basic value of the church is Christ’s love and love in general. In order to get Catholics to feel this basic love towards others, Pope Francis is demonstrating it first.

  4. I think Pope Francis is making the Christian world come to terms with what it means to be Christian. I think that in highly organized and regimented churches like the Mormon and Catholic churches, its easy to get jumbled up in the bureaucracy and hierarchy and lose sight of what it means to simply follow Christ. Pope Francis is showing the world–not just Christians–what it means to put others before the self. Whether he’s taking public transportation or washing the feet of the poor, he is demonstrating that true leadership doesn’t happen behind closed doors but in the midst of the people. Hopefully his example of reaching out with love and compassion inspires people around the world to reconsider their fellow man not as a rival but as a brother or sister.

  5. If you look at the Catholic Church as a purely political organization (which some do), it is a very tricky move by the Pope that could have both positive and negative consequences. On the one hand, it will probably make the Pope very popular with the everyday Catholics all around the world. There is a much lower risk of alienating some of the Church’s followers. While the Church won’t change the doctrine it teaches, they need to be seen as moving with the times. But on the other hand, it could anger some of the Church’s other leadership that believe the Catholic Church should regularly speak out on it’s doctrine. The Vatican’s relies on its archbishops and bishops for support and power. Pope Francis is only the Pope because they voted him in. Angering some of them could cause some negative consequences. But for me personally, I think it is great that Pope Francis is focusing on the basic Christian values. I think its something that Catholics and non-Catholics alike could use a refresher course in.

  6. I have mixed feelings about what Pope Francis revealed in his interview. I think the tack he has taken to ‘modernize’ the reputation of the Catholic Church is excellent. His return to basic Christlike values, recognizing that God is no respecter of persons, and emphasis on Christlike love and acceptance of all, are much-needed things that Christianity as a whole has been lacking in lately. These are the fundamental principles that appealed to the first converts to the gospel, and continue to be the joy-filled core of true Christian discipleship.

    However, the line of tolerance is a very difficult one to walk properly. To properly defend truths revealed from God, or principles crucial to one’s faith, while also accepting and tolerating and loving those who do not agree with or live those principles, is a truly difficult task, especially when considered in the light of public relations and the variation in the Pope’s audience. I am afraid that his silence on key moral issues will seem weak and unsupportive to those who feel strongly about the Church’s stance on those issues, and seem indifferent or even condoning to those who feel the opposite.

  7. There is a delicate balance that must be considered between defending values and accepting others. Both sides, taken to the extreme, are problematic. On the one hand, constantly stressing values and doctrine without ever referencing basic Christian values can appear dogmatic, narrow-minded, and cold. On the other hand, complete tolerance of all actions results in a Christian church with no backbone. God gave commandments and He expects His children to obey them. There is a fine line between these two extremes. Personally, if I had to choose between the two, I would lean more towards the “love everyone, accept everyone” side. This is what Pope Francis has done. I think it’s great that he is redirecting the Catholic Church towards more fundamental Christian values. However, I fear that he may have missed the mark and gone from one extreme to the other. I believe the LDS church does a fantastic job of walking the line between loving others and defending truth (even if outsiders criticize us as being too dogmatic). Hopefully, Pope Francis won’t forget that although it is so crucial to emphasize Christ-like charity, it’s also important to defend God’s truth that He has revealed to us.

  8. I agree wholeheartedly with everything explained above by josephdecker. I think it’s interesting when hearing these statements made by Pope Francis to take a look into the leadership of the LDS Church. When the LDS Church sends missionaries out into the field, their purpose and object in going is not to convert as many people as they can or to shove doctrine down the people’s throats. Rather, the soul purpose of a missionary (and the mission of the Church as a whole) is “to bring others unto Christ.” This won’t always mean a baptism. It won’t always mean a conversion. Sometimes, it may not even mean doing anything more than being an example of Christlike love and service. Here in the Church, we are firm on points of our doctrine, but rather than preach about sin on the pulpit, declaring “this is right and this is wrong,” the General Authorities will rather take on a loving and open tone, bidding anyone who has questions to ask them of God and form a relationship with him. No rules or doctrine are shoved down anyone’s throat. They are offered and open to anyone who will seek to learn more. I think that’s exactly what Pope Francis aims to do. Rather than coming off as a stingy, closed-door society, he wants the Catholic Church to appeal to people everywhere as a home and haven where they are welcome and safe. He admits that he himself is a sinner. We are all sinners. But his aim is not to single out the sinner, but rather to welcome him inside and let him work out his own salvation. I think this is a very wise move for the Pope not only spiritually but politically in opening the doors for relations between the Catholic Church and all peoples.

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