Pope thinks the RC church has become obsessed with sex

Not quite his words.

According to the NY Times,

“Pope Francis, in the first extensive interview of his six-month-old papacy, said that the Roman Catholic Church had grown “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he has chosen not to speak of those issues despite recriminations from some critics…
In remarkably blunt language, Francis sought to set a new tone for the church, saying it should be a “home for all” and not a “small chapel” focused on doctrine, orthodoxy and a limited agenda of moral teachings.

12 thoughts on “Pope thinks the RC church has become obsessed with sex

  1. I’m not in the least impressed: this is a change in style rather than substance. The position on gender remains the same, viz. that being male or female is theologically significant, built into the fabric of the universe. Same old program: style wins. Obama LOOKED so cool and liberal…was so beautifully packaged, groomed and trained…but was never anything other than center right. I don’t like this pope one bit for all the warm fuzzies and pastoral skills. Bah!

  2. The Catholic Church evolves as social insects do due to its similar hierarchical system of control. The overall organizational system as evolved guarantees survival of that system and does not favor any individual mutation that goes against the organizational grain. Put in one genetic renegade queen bee or ant queen–she institutes subtle negative survival differences of how she interacts with her society (not producing so many workers, etc.). Her particular oddities will be displaced by the forces of the ongoing hierarchy, and her particular genes will fade into irrelevance (even if her particular society dies as a result of her dissonant genes). So it is with all past and present Popes. Except that hierarchical memes (as opposed to genes) are quickly reversible: Vatican II and Benedict, e.g. Francis is only ultimately as good as is the swarm that he oversees in abetting his memes. But the fact that a Pope has in some way gotten the point of the genetic importance of his memes is a good step, and Francis does seem to get that. It does not ensure that step will be of lasting importance. He is only one queen bee, after all.

  3. Only time will tell, but I think this new Pope is a huge change for the better. I think we will see a Catholic Church that is more just, more focused on fighting poverty, and less obsessed with sexuality and pushing narrow-minded points-of-view about debatable social issues. Plus he seems intelligent and kind. I’m an atheist, but care about these matters with an eye toward justice.

    Of course, if you don’t think that Obama was a major improvement over Bush, as I do, then this will likely be unsatisfying to you.

  4. Of course Obama was a major improvement. What’s scary is that fact that conservatives tugged the US political spectrum so far right that a center rightist like Obama is, or was, regarded as progressive. To see the full extent of the shift, remember one of Nixon’s pet projects that didn’t get through was a “negative income tax.” Same with the RC Church. After quarter of a century of the most detestable JPII–another master of style–and his successor anything to the left of Torquemada looks good.

  5. This salon article captures a lot of my feelings, and reaffirms Harriet Barber’s argument: “Francis may be better than the old popes, but what does that actually make him? A religious leader who has said some great things about equality and acceptance — but who appears quite content to leave the actual, structural barriers to achieving those goals firmly in place.” http://www.salon.com/2013/09/20/best_pope_ever_still_pretty_awful/

    I’m not Catholic (or particularly religious at all), and I am sure that if I was Catholic, I would be happy to have someone making the right noises. But from the outside, I will start changing my mind when he starts to stop making ambiguous progressive statements, and starts making change in the structure or doctrine of the church. This is the same person that in the same breath he believes the church has become obsessed about homosexuality, abortion, and contraception, he also reassures readers that the teachings of the church are clear. Now, in the same interview he talks about discernment (btw, the original Italian interview is behind a paywall, if anyone has access, I am curious what Italian word he is using”. In his discussion of discernment he argues: “This discernment takes time. For example, many think that changes and reforms can take place in a short time. I believe that we always need time to lay the foundations for real, effective change.” So, maybe something better will come along later. But I am going to wait for that to happen before throwing any accolades besides better than the previous two popes on him.

  6. I think there are some good reasons at least to withhold judgment. For one thing, he clearly sees the church has some big and very harmful problems, and one can hope he does not see them as all solved by a superficial alteration of rhetoric. That would be clearly wrong.

    Also, large part of the previous popes’ problems with the uppity nuns was that the nuns were questioning dogma and wouldn’t keep quiet. Frances in contrast thinks the questions are very serious and must be addressed.

    It is true that he seems inconsistent. But that does not mean we know the ones in line with older views are the right ones. Isn’t Salon doing just that?

  7. There is a litmus test: asked about the possibility of women’s ordination to the priesthood he said, decisively, “that door is closed.” However socially and politically progressive he may be on a range of issues–for which he should certainly be applauded–this is a reaffirmation of the doctrine that gender is somehow rooted in the nature of the universe and theologically significant. The question of women’s ordination isn’t only or primarily about women as priests–it’s concerns overarching doctrines about the nature and proper roles of men and women. And that is why Catholicism and many other forms of Christianity are doomed in affluent countries: they are inconsistent with modernity and the individualistic, unisex arrangements that define it.

  8. Harriet, very strong points.

    Do remember where he said ‘that door is closed’? Women’s ordination is one of the nun’s profound questions.

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