Holy Man says What?

Matt Melson

Pope Francis’ recent remarks started the most progressive stance on abortion and homosexuality in the Catholic Church’s history. The pope has taken a more loving stance to these issues and gone back to the roots of the church, the “hate the sin, love the sinner” mentality.

This may seem great, but there is a problem with this whole situation. Somehow one man’s opinion was able to reshape[Robbins, 1]  hundreds of years of Catholic thinking and shape the opinions of its congregation overnight. To an outsider of the religion, this seems very peculiar.

The pope’s new position is quite progressive for Catholicism.

“It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,” Pope Francis said. The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.”

The overall reaction to these remarks has been amazing. Many Catholics around the globe are praising the pope’s remarks and are truly inspired by the church’s new stance.

This is a clear shift in the Catholic perspective from Pope Francis’ predecessors. According to the previous pope, Benedict XVI, homosexuality “undermines families, human dignity and the future of humanity itself.”

Pope John Paul II took the stance that homosexuality was an “intrinsic evil” and that “living out this orientation of homosexuality is not a morally acceptable option.”

So it seems that the new pope is taking Catholicism to a new area of progression. The problem is, why did it take the word of the pope for Catholics to do what their religion said to do in the first place?

If one of the main teachings of your religion is to love your neighbor, then why did it take a regular man – yes, he is a regular man who is elected to the position – to say to that you should practice that teaching for you to do it?

This is the main problem that comes about from the tradition of electing a pope. Instead of Catholicism’s participants thinking for themselves and following the teachings of their religion, they rely on one man’s interpretation of the religion.

Although the new stance is the most progressive the Catholic Church has to date, it seems hollow, coming out of fear rather than a true acceptance of these issues. The pope warned that the church’s moral foundations will fall “like a house of cards” unless it strikes a “new balance” between preaching gospel and taking stances on divisive issues.

Let’s not forget some Catholics who now have to go against their former beliefs and accept the pope’s new position on these issues. Many conservative Catholics who have hounded the pope to address these issues are now left with a sour taste after the religion they followed suddenly changed its mind on some of its biggest issues.

The most interesting aspect of the papacy and power of the statements made by the person holding this position is the infallibility that comes along with the position. According to chapter 4.9 of The First Dogmatic Constitution of the Church of Christ, the pope is preserved from the possibility of error.

If the previous popes took the position that homosexuality needed to be abolished because of the threat it posed to mankind, then why is Pope Francis able to say anything otherwise?

The reason is because he is just a man like everyone else, only this man finally took a stance that didn’t condemn people for reasons previous popes have. Everyone should praise the pope for taking this stance, but they also need to take a step back and analyze the situation. They need to figure out why it took this man’s opinion on these issues to spark change within Catholicism.

This is not intended to mock the Catholic religion, its followers or even the pope, but instead trying to open people’s eyes to the reality behind the situation. Yes, the pope has this incredible new stance on these issues, but others must think about how the opinion of one man shapes this community.