By Nick Tate
A Sept. 19 interview and a Sept. 20 speech has shed a shocking new light on issues Pope Francis has previously refused to talk about- specifically homosexuality and abortion.
In the interview, conducted by Rev. Antonio Spadaro, Pope Francis discussed his visions of an inclusive Church, a “home for all”.
These visions are a huge turnaround from his predecessor Benedict, who envisioned a smaller, purer church.
In the interview, he stressed the need for the Church to find a balance between the issues it wants to tackle. He believes that the Church has been “obsessed” with homosexuality, abortion and contraception, and that it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.
Pope Francis recalled his time as a Bishop in Argentina, when he received letters from homosexuals, saying they felt “socially wounded” by the church. He told them “the Church does not want to do this”. He continued on to say, “Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.”
In terms of gay marriage, the pope has still chosen to remain silent.
On Sept. 20, however, Pope Francis finally decided to openly denounce abortion and contraceptive methods, calling them a “throw-away culture”.
“Every child that isn’t born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord,” he said.
Pope Francis’ statements have clearly disappointed conservatives in the Church.
“I think this is the real beginning of his pontificate,” Massimo Faggioli, theologian at the University of St Thomas in St Paul, Minnesota, told the Chicago Tribune. “The overall picture is a Church that is not imposing a test on people before they even think of staying or leaving.”
However, Pope Francis evoked gratitude and hope from many liberal Catholics who had felt left out during the more conservative policies of Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II. They believe he wants to move in a fresh, new direction.
Greg Burke, the Vatican’s senior communications adviser, told the Associated Press “What he is saying is ‘We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the boundaries. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about what is sin and what’s not. Now let’s move on. Let’s talk about mercy. Let’s talk about love.'”