Francis continues to surprise and amaze me. One of the most common complaints I hear from non-Catholics and non-Believers (I’m not Catholic) aside from “hey, I don’t believe in God” is that the Roman Catholic Church is sex obsessed and weird.
Given the massive amount of buggering of children that’s occurred over these last few decades I think it’s fair to say that this is a reasonable judgment regardless of where anyone comes down on the whole Omnipotent Deity question. In point of fact, I’ve known a number of former Catholics that became Protestant or quit believing altogether because of the treatment of homosexuals by the Church and because of the rampant sexual abuse. They simply couldn’t take it anymore. Like a man buying a blood diamond, they felt they were contributing to the continuation of something horrible. But now we have this:
Pope Francis said the church has the right to express its opinions but not to “interfere spiritually” in the lives of gays and lesbians, expanding on explosive comments he made in July about not judging homosexuals.
Which indicates that the recently anointed Pope Francis seems to be not merely backing off of this sexual obsession but outright challenging it. And I quote, “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.”
What, what? What does this mean? He’s saying that tending to the spiritual needs of the people is more important than making sure everyone in the Church is repeating the same lines in the same way. Since the number of Catholics in the world measure in the billions this is a big deal.
“The church has sometimes locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules…The people of God want pastors not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials.”
Um, yeah, that’s pretty much what churches claim they do. So, the fact that this is such big news is both encouraging for those of us (people, not Christians) who generally want to see more compassion in the world and it’s encouraging for Catholics who’ve grown weary of what can’t be called anything but evil invading the houses in which they worship.
This combined with the Vatican’s statement on getting rid of celibacy for priests earlier this month indicates that a very real sea change may be coming to the Church that seeks to wipe away almost all of the things about it that modern believers struggle with in terms of equality, justice, and love.
“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
More compassion all around, please.