Pope Francis: orthodox liberal

Pope Francis is a type of Catholic that many conservatives think does not exist: orthodox and yet liberal.

I look forward to reading his first encyclical. The encyclical on faith was written almost entirely by Pope emeritus Benedict. This providentially shows the continuity between these two successive Popes. And this is necessary because Pope Francis is going to take his own advice to young people, he is going to shake things up in the Church.

“I want to tell you something. What is it that I expect as a consequence of World Youth Day? I want a mess. We knew that in Rio there would be great disorder, but I want trouble in the dioceses!” he said, speaking off the cuff in his native Spanish. “I want to see the church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes, schools or structures. Because these need to get out!”

Take a look at this news story on recent comments by the Pope.

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis asked.

His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, signed a document in 2005 that said men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests. Francis was much more conciliatory, saying gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten.

Pope Francis is taking a more liberal position. He’s right that past sins must be forgotten. But I would say that every priest must accept the teachings of the Church on sexual ethics; a priest who considers himself to be gay is likely to reject that teaching. Priests should be lambs without blemish.

When Francis starts publishing papal documents, there will be much controversy. He is orthodox, and so the unfaithful among liberals will be outraged. But he is also liberal, and so the unfaithful among conservatives will also be outrages. Then the great apostasy will begin.

The truths taught by Christ are not always conservative, or moderate, or liberal. It is wrong for Catholics to divide themselves into pseudo-political groups, and then adhere to all the ideas of that group, rather than to the teachings of the Church.

Edited to add: On the point about how the Church deals with ordained priests who have a homosexual orientation, it is a matter of discipline. A Pope can be lenient and permit them to remain in the clergy, as long as they avoid grave sin and adhere to Church teaching. Or a Pope can dismiss them from the clergy, preferring those men only who are lambs without blemish.

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