Agreeing and Disagreeing With Pope Francis

The article
outlines Pope Francis’ position on a variety of contentious issues. I was asked which ones I disagreed with. So here we go:

PRIESTLY CELIBACY – “It’s a question of discipline, not of faith. It could change.”
I think this should be changed. Celibate people are ill-equipped, to put it mildly, to offer council regarding marriage, family, or children. Theoretical knowledge is not a substitute for lived experience.

Removing this requirement acknowledges that priests are human, with human needs. I think this would make them better priests and less subject to the temptations which could lead to the next topic.
Note that I’m not suggesting that married priests are better than unmarried priests. I’m saying that having priests who are married would make the priesthood better as a whole.

CLERGY ABUSE – “Francis says punishing the priest is more important than protecting the church’s image.”
I’d reframe this as child abuse by the clergy. Francis wants to punish the offenders. I’d say that’s just the beginning. What really needs to happen is a set of reforms that correct and prevent the problem from reoccurring. My worry is that some scapegoats will be found, and that will be that. Not nearly good enough. The church must understand how the abuse become so widespread and has gone on for so long. Then publicly atone for it and fix it so that it can not happen again. Churches must be a safe place for the vulnerable and the “least of these”. Letting it become a haven for predators was a betrayal of its mission and people’s trust.

ABORTION – “Francis is against it, from the moment of conception.”
Agreed, with the caveat that it needs to remain a viable option. Prohibiting abortion is fundamentalism, see the last topic. As difficult as it is to reconcile, there are two lives involved. Sometimes hard choices have to be made by either the woman, or her doctor(s). As someone who does not have to make that choice, it is not my place to judge those who do, and have to live with the consequences.

I think what we should do is reduce the number of times that abortion is considered as an option. This means reducing, with the goal of eliminating, unwanted pregnancies. In the meantime, we should also provide viable options (eg. adoption, family support) for those women who do not wish to raise their child.

Where are the men in this? Women don’t get pregnant by themselves. Eliminating unwanted pregnancies requires eliminating rape. This is something men in particular need to address.

SEX EDUCATION – “Francis is for it, if done holistically, with love and not just sex in mind.”
Agreed. Sex education should be taught in the context of relationships as a normal part of what adults do. It can be messy, but it is not “dirty” or shameful. Focussing solely on the biology and the mechanics ignores its significance.

CONTRACEPTION – “Francis thinks many Catholics are too obsessed about it.”
I think too many priests are too obsessed with it. Contraception, or the lack of it, should be a discussion between the man and woman involved. The choice is theirs to make. No one can force either of them to use it, or not. However, they have to live with the consequences of their decision. Preventing an unwanted pregnancy, is far better than terminating an unwanted pregnancy. If God really wants a couple to have a child, He is perfectly capable of making it happen. Also, denying others the contraception they desire is fundamentalism, see the last topic.

DIVORCE – “Francis agrees that divorcees who remarry cannot take communion, but wants them attending church.”
This makes divorced people “second-class citizens” in the church. But there are no second-class people before God. (Galatians 3:26-28)

HOMOSEXUALITY – “The Vatican condemns gay acts, tolerates gay tendencies. Francis goes a bit farther.”
While Old Testament law forbids it, Jesus said nothing on the subject. However, he did say “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…. Love your neighbour as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:37-40) He also said “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. …Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.” (Luke 7:36-37) So, if two men, or two women, love each other, how can I in love deny them that? Would I want anyone to deny me the person I love? The only people who have the right to do that are one I love, and myself.

The subject of marriage, and the definition of marriage inevitably comes up. The Bible provides several examples of marriage: One man, one woman; one man multiple women (eg. Solomon multiple wives plus concubines); a soldier and prisoner (Numbers 31:18); a rapist and his victim (Deuteronomy 22:28-29); and others. All(?) cultures have a concept of marriage. The common thread being the life-long commitment of two people to each other. Can two men, or two women, do that? Absolutely.

The subject of children follows. Francis says that “[e]very person needs a masculine father and a feminine mother to help them settle their identity.” The evidence does not support this. What children need is loving parents who provide a safe and nurturing home for them in which to grow up. They need parents who model loving and respectful relationships. Can two men, or two women, do that? The evidence says they can. Is a child’s development adversely affected by the absence of a masculine, or feminine parent? The evidence says probably not.


ORDINATION OF WOMEN – “Francis is against it, but says women have a maternal role vital to society.”
So he thinks the primary role of women is as mothers. Seriously?? The chauvinism of that is astounding.

FEMINISM – “Francis has issues with it.”
Clearly, he does. Women are as much children of God as men are. Therefore they should have the same rights and privileges as men have. Love your neighbour (male or female) as yourself. Also, Galatians 3:26-28, again.

EUTHANASIA – “One is not obligated to preserve life through extraordinary measures. This can go against the dignity of the person. Active euthanasia is something else — that’s killing.”
Agreed. One might not be obligated, but might choose to do so. Also, reasonable people might disagree on what “extraordinary measures” are.

DEATH PENALTY – “Francis says it’s never OK.”
Agreed. Luke 7:36-37 again.

FUNDAMENTALISM – “… this kind of religiosity, so rigid, wraps itself in doctrines that pretend to provide justifications, but in reality they deny liberty …”
Agreed. Modern day Pharisees.

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