BY SARAH MUELLER
Just six months into his papacy, Pope Francis is already making waves: Francis made surprising comments Sept. 19, essentially criticizing the church for prioritizing dogma and moral doctrines before love and service to the poor and marginalized.
Francis illustrated his vision of an inclusive, accepting church, referring to it as “a home for all” rather than “a small chapel that can only hold a small group of selected people.” He continued by saying, “The church has sometimes lopcked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials.”
Francis’ interview stretched over a wide number of topics, speaking candidly as he touched upon his favorite artists, his own personal faith, the role of women and nuns in the church, abortion and homosexuality.
On homosexuality, Francis said, “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 life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation.”
This quote from Francis is striking in that it is so forward-thinking, yet still so in line with the church’s teachings of mercy, love, service and acceptance. Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, summarized Francis’ ideas perfectly when he said, “[The Pope’s] pastoral strategy is to hate the sin, but love the sinner.” We must serve our brothers and sisters.
In accord with Dolan’s notion, Francis described the church as a “field hospital” whose primary obligation must be “to heal the wounds and warm the hearts of the faithful” in his interview.
Lastly, Francis 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, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”
Francis’ comments were not only brave, but were also perceptive. It takes a lot of courage to publicly question the church’s motives, and peeling back each restrictive dogma can be quite the reflective process, especially in a decade where social issues are so constantly butting heads with church doctrine. Francis definitely represents a new genre in papal interactions, because his simplistic, sincere and charismatic persona makes him relatable and endearing to the public. Keep making waves, Francis. You certainly have some supporters in your corner.
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