Pope Francis has raised eyebrows during his papacy, there’s no doubt. As the leader of 1.1 billion Catholics, every word he says is picked apart, deciphered, interpreted, and regurgitated.
But the Vatican never confirms or denies the pope’s comments, as per policy. So the world must rely on hearsay, to a degree.
Meaning, the pope just might be the most interesting man in the world.
‘God made you like this’
In late April, Pope Francis met with Juan Carlos Cruz, who was abused by a Catholic priest in Chile.
The victim’s sexuality came up, because Chilean priests sought to use the fact that Cruz was homosexual to discredit his witness testimony.
Cruz reported to the Catholic news outlet Crux that the pope told him during a meeting between the two: “Juan Carlos, that you are gay doesn’t matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and it doesn’t matter to me. The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are.”
The statement is not inconsistent with what the pope told reporters in 2013, when he said, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency (to be homosexual) is not the problem.”
Abortion is forgiven
It’s nothing new that all sins can/are/will be forgiven according to one’s faith. But Pope Francis made it official three years ago when he announced that priests could forgive parishioners who have had abortions.
Afterward, the Vatican clarified that “Forgiveness of the sin of abortion does not condone abortion nor minimize its grave effects. … The fact that this statement is coming from the Pope and in such a moving, pastoral way, is more evidence of the great pastoral approach and concern of Pope Francis.”
Pope Francis is slated to visit Ireland in August, following their recent overwhelming vote last week to overturn the country’s abortion ban.
The world will be watching, considering Ireland has historically been vehemently loyal to the Catholic church, but their politics in recent years has signaled an embracement of more socially liberal policies.
More acceptance of homosexual, divorced Catholics
In a noteworthy statement, Pope Francis instructed his priests to use their own discretion on whether or not divorced members of their parishes could receive communion, stating:
“It can no longer simply be said that all those living in any ‘irregular situation’ are living in a state of mortal sin.
He also pressed for more acceptance of gays and lesbians around the world in a directive to his priests, saying, “By thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and growth.”
The pope also acknowledged: ” I understand those who prefer a more rigorous care which leaves no room for confusion. But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a Church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness.”
Has there been a shift in the Catholic church?
It depends on individual perspectives as to whether it’s good or bad. But there’s certainly been a change.
And Cardinal Raymond Burke chose to clarify: “The pope is not free to change the church’s teaching with regard to the immorality of homosexual acts or the insolubility of marriage or any other doctrine of the faith.”
There are plenty of opinions regarding how strictly Catholic doctrine should be followed.
Cardinal Raymond Burke said, “The pope is not free to change the church’s teachings with regard to the immorality of homosexual acts or the insolubility of marriage or any other circumstances.”
As the Crux recently reflected back on the pope’s initiative to follow up on Veterans of Foreign Wars, the publication quoted Francis in an interview in early February when he said:
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods. We have to find a new balance.”