Pope makes remarks regarding gay marriage and abortion, sparks criticism


The recently elected Pope Francis may be more liberal than you think. With his recent comments on gay marriage and abortion, the pope faces heavy criticism from Catholics and other Christians alike.

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” said Pope Francis in a recent interview with La Civiltà Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal.

Francis clarified that, while he said the Church should not be so “obsessed” with these topics, he was not justifying gay marriage and abortion.

In light of Francis’ comments, some argue that the Church is becoming more tolerant of homosexuals.

“The church has been calling for mercy and not condemning persons who have same-sex attractions,” Father Mack, a priest at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, told The Guilfordian in an email.

Evidence behind this claim comes from the pope’s comments this summer on homosexual priests.

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

Although he may not be one to judge, the pope sent shockwaves through the Catholic Church after his interview went public.

“Conservative Catholics think he is encouraging sinful behavior,” said President and Professor of Political Science Kent Chabotar. “What the pope is saying essentially is that we are all sinners, and that while you may hate the sin, you should still love the sinner.”

Mack, however, argues that the pope’s message conforms to Catholic tradition.

“He actually did not say anything new, radical, or depart from Catholic teaching,” said Mack.

And even if he did, Chabotar stresses that the pope’s comments are not always a reflection of Church policy.

“Oftentimes, people mistakenly think anything the pope says is supposed to be infallible,” said Chabotar. “Only when His Holiness speaks ‘ex cathedra’ on a matter of faith or morals is this true. That has happened once since the Vatican Council in 1870.”

Chabotar went on to clarify that the pope’s words are not always official either.

“When Obama talks, we don’t take everything he says as federal policy,” he said. “The same goes for the pope although I must admit that Pope Francis has more control over the College of Cardinals than the President has over the U.S. Congress.”

“I view the Church as being less conservative and more tolerant of sinners,” said first-year Colin Macintosh. “I see the Pope’s comments as a step in the right direction.”

On the other hand, Mack does not see an increase in tolerance.

“I really haven’t seen, heard of, or read any convincing evidence that this is the case,” said Mack.

Early College junior and practicing Catholic Erin Egan stressed that the Church is still very conservative.

“Last year, my priest went out of the way to encourage people to vote for Amendment One (an amendment to the N.C. Constitution that prohibited the state from recognizing same-sex marriage),” said Egan.

Francis recently took similar action when he excommunicated a priest who supported same-sex marriage, as reported by The Telegraph.

While recent news suggests that the Church is still conservative, can the argument be made for an emerging shift to the left?

“With 2,000 years of experience, the Church is slow to change,” said Chabotar. “But it has changed.  How much change we can expect now is, at this point, speculation.”