Moral Low Ground

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Pope Francis: Catholic Church ‘Obsessed’ with Gays, Abortion, Birth Control

Pope Francis I on a recent trip to Brazil. (Photo: Semilla Luz)

Pope Francis I on a recent trip to Brazil. (Photo: Semilla Luz)

In an interview with an influential Jesuit journal, Pope Francis blasted the Catholic Church’s ‘obsession’ with homosexuality, abortion and birth control.

Antonio Spadaro of La Civiltà Cattolica (English translation here) interviewed the Pope over the course of three days. The Pontiff criticized the Church for prioritizing religious dogma over love and warned that the Church must become more merciful or risk the prospect of having its “moral edifice… fall like a house of cards.”

Francis opined that the Church has “locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules.”

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” the Pope declared. “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 of the time.”

The Pope also said he has a vision of the Church as “a home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people.”

As far as priests, the Pope believes they ought to be more merciful.

“The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better,” he said.

While progressive Catholics hailed the Pope’s interview, many conservatives reacted angrily. Perhaps in reaction to this, Francis on Friday denounced abortion, which he called a part of today’s “throw-away culture.”

“Every child that isn’t born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord,” he said.

Francis, who is the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years, as well as the first Jesuit and first Latin American to hold the most powerful post in Christendom, has only been Pope for six months, but has already made waves with several eyebrow-raising proclamations.

In a stark split with his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who called homosexuality “an intrinsic moral evil,” Francis in July asked, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Francis also reached out to non-believers, ruffling feathers in May when he proclaimed that “even the atheists” can be redeemed by ‘God.’

“The Lord has redeemed all of us… we are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all,” he said.

Pope Francis has also earned respect in progressive circles due to his strong advocacy for the poor and oppressed of the world, and for his harsh criticism of “savage capitalism.”

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