Target: Pope Francis
Goal: Commend interview in which the new Pope bravely discusses reform and the Catholic dogma.
The 266th and newest Pope of the Catholic Church at age 76, Pope Francis has taken to revolutionizing his position as the most prominent religious leader in the world, reintroducing and modernizing some ideas handed down by Jesus that seem to have been forgotten. He created an uproar among conservatives when for Maundy Thursday Mass he went to a youth prison in Rome and, instead of washing the feet of 12 priests, knelt down before incarcerated youths, including two women. Most recently he undertook his first extended interview over three separate sessions with editor of the Jesuit publication La Civiltà Cattolica Father Antonio Spadaro, who asked some probing questions about the future of the Church and its dogma. Pope Francis had some startling and, for anyone with a progressive eye on the Church’s patterns of tolerance, encouraging responses, saying that Christians must avoid seeking “disciplinarian solutions” and “an exaggerated doctrinal ‘security,'” for if they try to force their faith to exist in a disappearing past they are at risk of making it into “an ideology among other ideologies.”
The Pope is not interested in setting up the Church as an infallible, rigid institution whose power derives solely from its hierarchy, and he advocates for a development over time, with attention to societal changes that are necessarily always occurring, of Catholic dogma. This idea is not new: the Church has changed its stance before on the orientation of the solar system and on slavery. But it seems that traditionalists of late have focused too much on issues that are destructive of the Church’s legitimacy and acceptance, and Pope Francis responds, “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods…it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.” On this subject he continues, “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. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things.”
In all of these declarations the Pope allies himself with a new kind of traditionalism, one that embraces the intent of the Christian doctrines rather than strictly the language – he argues that Christians cannot plant themselves so firmly in conservatism as if it will protect the Church from modernization, as that is tantamount to burying one’s head in the sand. He insists, “No: God is to be encountered in the world of today.” However, he also recognizes that reform takes time, saying near the beginning of the interview that “I believe that we always need time to lay the foundations for real, effective change.” The Church must acknowledge its mistakes and make plans to shift dogma in the direction of the real world, making it applicable to modern lives instead of clinging to a past that no longer exists.
By signing this petition, you are thanking the Pope for his bravery and openmindedness, and for bringing these qualities to his office as leader of the Catholic world. You are encouraging the Pope to continue laying the foundations the Church needs to move forward in modern society. You are applauding Pope Francis’s thoughtful efforts at diplomacy as he navigates the Church through the tricky waters of dogmatic reform.
Dear Pope Francis,
I am very excited about your recent interview with Father Antonio Spadaro for La Civiltà Cattolica, in which you demonstrate a commendable thoughtfulness and attention to the needs of the Church in the modern world. There can be no ignoring societal transitions, and the Church must not bury its head in the sand to preserve a dogma whose language is valued over its intent. Your interview is a breath of fresh air to modern Christians and others around the world who have been looking to the Church to embrace modernity in a unified and compassionate manner.
Thank you for your bravery and open mind, and for diplomatically acknowledging the need for reform and refocusing of the Catholic dogma, which as you say cannot occur instantaneously; we must build up to these necessary changes. Thank you for continuing to lay the foundations for an accepting, modern Church in which Christians can find an example of compassionate teaching.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Agência Brasil via Wikimedia Commons