Friday, September 20, 2013

Is Francis a Liberal Pope?

Once again, Pope Francis has made liberalizing noises.  And once again, conservative Roman Catholics, who understandably want their pope to be robustly orthodox, are coming out and saying he was misinterpreted and taken out of context; the press is spinning; what he really meant is etc.

I love my conservative Roman Catholic brethren.  But I am at the point where I think they are engaging in wishful thinking.  It is time to face up to the possibility that, in Pope Francis, the church has had a liberal Pope foisted upon it.

His views on the church’s opposition to abortion are close to a last straw for me.  Fromthe Wall Street Journal (where they may be a pay wall):

"We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods," said the 76-year-old pontiff, who came to power in March after the sudden resignation of Pope Benedict. "This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that.

"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," he said. "We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards."

His comments could signal dissatisfaction with the strong stance some church leaders have taken on the highly charged social issues. For instance, in an interview last week with a local Catholic newspaper, Rhode Island Bishop Thomas J. Tobin said that he was "a little bit disappointed in Pope Francis that he hasn't, at least that I'm aware of, said much about unborn children, about abortion, and many people have noticed that."

So to be balanced, the church should defend the unborn less?  The church should protest the slaughter of the innocents less?  Pope Francis should indeed be “reprimanded” for his lack of balance on abortion.  For a Pope to speak this way is distressing.

There is also this:

Francis also pointedly says, "I have never been a right-winger."

Sorry, but that sounds like a liberal to me.  Do orthodox speak about other orthodox publicly in this manner?

Now Francis hasn’t said anything heretical.  And I do not claim to know that he is a liberal pope.  But I am convinced it is past time for catholics in and outside the Roman church to face up to the possibility and stop making wishful excuses for him.

By the way, bad liturgy and bad theology go together.


James Gibson said...

But then he came out today with this. Apparently, he didn't get his own memo.

Mark said...

Thanks. I'm very glad to read that, James! I feel slightly better now. Perhaps he realized his words were a bit too open to misinterpretation?


Dave Halt said...

I am always surprised when the Pope turns out to, you know, be Catholic.

The point of the whole kerfluffle, if the interview is actually read, revolves around the idea that it is not moral and dogmatic correctness that leads to salvation, but an encounter with the living Christ. He does not say morality is unimportant, but that it is not the first cause of salvation.

As for the right winger comment, I would hope the Pope is not a right winger, nor a left winger, but Catholic, which will never make the right or the left happy.