Pope Francis: reflecting a bigger desire for change in the Catholic Church?

I decided not to write about Pope Francis’ stunning interview Thursday for a couple reasons.

First and foremost, it was a busy day and my final day of the week. But I didn’t feel like there was much new here, just an expansion on Francis’ already conciliatory tone toward the gay community.

Pope Francis waves to crowds as he arrives to his inauguration mass on March 19. (The Associated Press)

Pope Francis waves to crowds as he arrives to his inauguration mass on March 19. (The Associated Press)

I’ve addressed that in previous blogs after his famous plane interview in July. So I wanted to let it sink in and say something new about it.

All I can say today is “wow.” I read many Facebook pronouncements and heard people talking about it all weekend, and the pope has started a conversation. That’s for sure.

My favorite takeaway comes from Father James Martin.

“Pope Francis is comfortable with gray,” writes Martin, a Jesuit at America magazine, which published the papal exclusive.

Those frightened “disciplinarians” who desire “an exaggerated doctrinal security” are missing the Christian message, Francis said.

“If a person says that he met God with total certainty and is not touched by a margin of uncertainty, then this is not good,” the Pope added. … “If one has the answers to all the questions — that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself.”

The Religion News Service adds four additional things that we learned about Pope Francis.

The biggest criticism I am hearing from the conservative side is this characterization of Francis as a liberal left-winger out of touch with the church and its teaching.

I just can’t help but think the Cardinals knew who they were selecting. While the conclave is a secretive process, one has to assume they know the candidates inside and out. They certainly gave their history making decision the moral and prayerful weight it deserved.

So if you believe that, then you know that at least 80 Cardinals (a two-thirds majority of the 120) likely support the direction Francis is taking the church.

I find that pretty telling.

What do you think? Is Francis going too far? Or is he merely reflecting the big changes coming to the Catholic Church?

About John Hilton

I grew up in Susquehanna County, Pa. and graduated Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism/political science in 1998. After working for nearly three years for a weekly paper in upstate New York, I came to southcentral Pennsylvania. I spent 13 years as a reporter and editor for The Sentinel in Carlisle and joined the York Daily Record as religion reporter in September 2011.
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