Pope Francis is changing the rules, for the better
By Kaitlin Arbusto
Honestly, Pope Francis, the newest and current leader of the Roman Catholic Church, seems to have his head in the right place.
However controversial and outlandish he and his beliefs may seem to a traditional follower of the Roman Catholic faith, a breakaway from such restrictive tradition may be exactly what the Catholic Church – and its roughly one billion followers – needs. After nearly 2,000 years of traditions, conventions, and customs, a change in direction – headed by the Pope himself – might help the Catholic Church, tradition and all, move forward into modern times.
Let’s backtrack a little bit. For the past 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has been nothing but strict. Even today, its views on homosexuality, marriage, abortion, contraception, pre-marital sex, and the like are beyond reason. The participation in all of the preceding actions is seen as sinful and immoral regardless of circumstance, necessity, or context. They are the most pressing issues that the Church deals with today. It is for this reason that several people have either stopped acting on or altogether renounced their faith – the views and the beliefs of the Catholic Church are quite literally stuck in Medieval Times. Recently, it has seemed that the world’s most pressing matters – poverty and discrimination, to name a few – have taken a backseat to the Church’s position on these social issues.
Enter Pope Francis on March 13 of this year, after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. Immediately, he was a hit around the world. As the first Jesuit pope and the first to rise to the papacy from the Americas, it was immediately evident that this man was a pope unlike any the Catholic Church has ever seen.
Last week, during an interview with the Reverend Antonio Spadaro, Pope Francis shocked the world when he stated that he was refraining from talking about issues such as contraception, homosexuality, and abortion in favor of concentrating on love, discrimination, and worldly pain and suffering. Pope Francis was, for the first time in history, breaking free of strict tradition in favor of a more modern approach. He was, in that moment, the single most controversial, nontraditional man to be seated in the Office of the Papacy.
Why did this shock the world, you ask? To be honest, I have no idea.
Some die-hard members of the Catholic faith have claimed that they have spent their entire lives devoting time and energy to the Catholic Church’s stances on these “sinful” issues. Some have said that, as a major religious institution of the world, the Roman Catholic Church is obligated to address every subject – social, economic, and political issues included – that comes its way. The Catholic Church itself, according to Pope Francis, is “obsessed” with social issues. But shouldn’t something as sacred as the Roman Catholic Church care more about poverty and oppression, health and love, more than sociopolitical issues? I say yes. So does Pope Francis.
Pope Francis has the right idea in moving away from discussion of temporary, non-crucial issues in lieu of the ones that make people suffer every day. Why spend years, decades, and centuries preaching about temporary issues? The issues of contraception, abortion, homosexuality, and marriage will fix themselves in due time.
Society will move toward a common point of view, and the law will follow. These will stop being the most important issues someday. Pope Francis knows this.
Poverty, discomfort, and marginalization, however, will always exist. People die every day, all over the world, because of their hunger, pain, and being unfairly oppressed.
Why must the Roman Catholic Church use its worldly influence to focus on issues so seemingly unimportant to the most pressing ones in the world? Religion is supposed to be a safe haven, a place for people to look when there is nowhere else to go. The people in this world who suffer from poverty, who are in a great deal of pain, who are unduly oppressed simply for being different, need to know that they can rely on some massive entity for help. Pope Francis believes that the Roman Catholic Church, as one of the biggest religious institutions in the world, can use its influence and notoriety to instead bring some hope to the people who need it most. The more the Roman Catholic Church focuses on them, the more attention they will get from the rest of the world, and the more help they will get. Pope Francis cares more about reducing suffering in the world than about causing political rifts within the Church. This is why he refuses to discuss politics.
The moral of the story is that people need to let the man do his job. As the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, yes, Pope Francis is obligated to address the world’s most pressing issues. However, somebody needs to take the politics out of religion. Somebody needs to refocus religion on what it was intended for – to save the people who need saving. By avoiding discussion of contraception, abortion, and homosexuality, Pope Francis is bringing the focus back to the issues that truly need it.