If everything you’ve heard about Pope Francis comes from a major news outlet or someone’s Facebook page, I’m going to ask that you rethink everything you think you know about him.
This new pontiff has been attracting a lot of attention, not only from the Catholic faithful but also from the secular world. However, while Pope Francis is changing hearts and minds, there seems to be a desire to sensationalize his papacy and make him out to be something that he’s not.
Let me set the record straight: Pope Francis will not change any long-held Catholic church teachings. He’s not going to
allow woman priests, he’s not going to pave the way for gay marriage within the church and he’s not going to reverse any teachings regarding abortion or contraceptives.
Most of these issues are so ingrained in church doctrine that even if Pope Francis was a raging anarchist and feminist Marxist, he could not change the church’s teachings. Church teaching is not something that sways to popular opinion, but rather a close examination of scripture and church tradition.
I’ve noticed that there appears to be this desire to try and compare Pope Emeritus Benedict to Pope Francis, and such comparisons are not only unfair and inaccurate, but also reveal a lack of understanding of the papacy. Those who are not Catholic but hold strong, negative opinions of the church are tempted to compare these pontiffs in order to construe some sort of division within the church.
For some, Pope Francis has made “startling” comments. These comments appear controversial to those who are not familiar with Catholic teachings. While Pope Francis says that he won’t judge gay people who seek God, it doesn’t conflict with the previous pontiff’s comments regarding homosexuals within the Church.
Pope Benedict himself, during his pontificate, repeated what is said within the catechism of the Catholic church. He said that homosexuals “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.” Such comments do not conflict with the sentiments echoed by his successor Pope Francis, nor do they contradict the church’s teachings. Both Popes were concerned with social matters such as economic inequality and rampant poverty, and neither of them are radical in any sense.
I read somewhere that Pope Francis is not changing the words but the music. He’s opening people up to the church and giving it a more human face. He is a symbol of unity, not of division. While Pope Francis and Benedict appear to represent two opposing sides within the church, they are two like-minded individuals who approached the papacy in two different but equally valid ways.
Pope Francis himself is concerned with the church’s apparent “obsession” with certain teachings that seem intimidating or difficult for those who were not raised in the church. This is not his way of dismissing the importance of these teachings, which are central to the message of the church. It simply reflects a desire to try and bring people to Christ without these initial barriers.
Pope Francis merely does not want the first thing people hear about Jesus Christ to be some difficult social teaching about gay marriage or contraception. He does not want people to be put off by what the church says people shouldn’t do, but instead to be drawn in by the love the church tirelessly proclaims.
The biggest shame in this way of thinking is that while Pope Francis wishes his papacy to be focused more on social justice, helping the poor and spreading the Gospel, the media only chooses to focus on his statements that relate to gay marriage, abortion and the role of women in the church. While some people feel the church is overly focused on these issues, it seems that people who aren’t Catholic have the most opinions regarding these teachings.
Those who try to twist Pope Francis’ words to fit some sort of progressive agenda are clearly mistaken about the church and its mission. They wish to stir up controversy at the cost of promoting a misguided message that, in effect, causes more confusion and fails to convey an accurate portrayal of his beliefs
The media turns a blind eye to the Pope’s loyalty to the church. You hardly ever see news articles about his comments denouncing abortion, his warnings against “adolescent progressivism” and his referral to same-sex marriage as an “anthropological regression.”
Pope Francis is doing wonderful things for the Catholic church. He’s making people see the church in a different light and is truly bringing the message of Christ to the masses. However, this portrayal of him as some sort of liberal that plans on tossing out dogma and doctrine in order to “get with the times” is an illusion propped up by the media and should not be given any significant amount of credibility.