In wide-ranging interview, Pope Francis sets vision for papacy
File under: Will wonders never cease…
By Elizabeth Tenety
In an extensive interview with Jesuit publications released Thursday, Pope Francis set the framework for his papacy, calling for reform of both the attitude and the structure of the church, and addressing head-on the criticism that he has not talked enough about abortion, homosexuality and contraception.
The leader of the global Catholic Church chided what he saw as the tendency of some church leaders to focus on “small-minded rules” and instead insisted that “the church’s ministers must be merciful.” Francis said, “the people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials.”
Reflecting on the response to his comment ‘Who am I to judge?‘ on homosexuality, made during his return trip from World Youth Day in August, Francis elaborated, “Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person? …. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy.”
The pope also addressed some of the controversial topics inside the church, including homosexuality, the role of women, his view of a need for reform and a tendency toward legalism.
On abortion, gay marriage and contraception:
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.
On women’s leadership:
“We must therefore investigate further the role of women in the church. We have to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman. Only by making this step will it be possible to better reflect on their function within the church. The feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions. The challenge today is this: to think about the specific place of women also in those places where the authority of the church is exercised for various areas of the church.”
“Yes, in this quest to seek and find God in all things there is still an area of uncertainty. There must be. 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. For me, this is an important key. If one has the answers to all the questions—that is the proof that God is not with him.”
“If the Christian is a restorationist, a legalist, if he wants everything clear and safe, then he will find nothing. Tradition and memory of the past must help us to have the courage to open up new areas to God. Those who today always look for disciplinarian solutions, those who long for an exaggerated doctrinal ‘security,’ those who stubbornly try to recover a past that no longer exists—they have a static and inward-directed view of things. In this way, faith becomes an ideology among other ideologies.”
On how he sees himself:
“Yes, perhaps I can say that I am a bit astute, that I can adapt to circumstances, but it is also true that I am a bit naïve. Yes, but the best summary, the one that comes more from the inside and I feel most true is this: I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.”
Complete Article HERE!
Reformist priest praises pope’s new tone but wants more
By Mary Wisniewski
An Austrian priest who has stirred controversy in Europe with his challenge to Catholic church teachings on taboo topics suggested on Wednesday that women should be allowed to become priests and said that gays need justice, not just mercy.
Father Helmut Schuller, who has been banned by American bishops from speaking in Catholic churches while on a tour of the United States that began in mid-July, welcomed recent remarks by Pope Francis on gay rights, but said discussion could go further.
Schuller, in a telephone interview, said the pope’s words were a “good opener” and gay people seem to be happy there’s a friendlier tone from the church than in the past.
Schuller, leader of an Austrian priest group known for its “Call to Disobedience” challenging church teachings on taboo topics such as the ordination of women and priests marrying, has been drawing enthusiastic crowds during a 15-city U.S. tour that began in New York in mid-July and starts its West Coast leg on Wednesday.
The pope raised hopes of a softening of Catholic church opposition to gay rights when he spoke to reporters during his return from a visit to Brazil this week. Addressing the issue of gay clergy, Francis said, “Who am I to judge?” He also reaffirmed church teaching that homosexual acts are a sin.
Responding to the pope’s remarks, Schuller said, “I think it’s not only a question of mercy, but it also should be a question of justice to respect the gay people.”
On the issue of ordaining women, Francis had reaffirmed the church’s ban on women priests, saying, “That door is closed.”
But Schuller said the question is, “Who closed the door?” adding, “It is not possible to think the discussion should be finished.
“We should not only knock at the door but try to open it again,” Schuller said.
The Catholic church teaches that it cannot ordain women because Jesus willingly chose only men as his apostles. Advocates for women priests say he was only acting according to the customs of his times. Seventy percent of U.S. Catholics believe women should be allowed to be priests, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll earlier this year.
U.S. bishops, including Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley and Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, have forbidden Schuller to speak on church property.
“Those who are not in harmony with Catholic church teachings in what they speak about should not be given a venue,” said Joe Kohn, spokesman for the Detroit archdiocese.
Schuller has been meeting privately with U.S. priests. Some priests and nuns were among the crowd of about 500 people who attended his public speech in Chicago last Wednesday.
Schuller said the “Call to Disobedience” arose out of a sense of “deep sorrow” among some Austrian priests, who feared that the worsening priest shortage would mean the end of parish communities. They feared a future of one priest serving as many as 20 parishes – offering Mass at one village before driving onto the next, unable to serve as a pastor to the people.
“We thought to speak out that this cannot be the future of the church,” Schuller said.
Last year, Austria’s church told the priests they could not support the manifesto, which had been criticized by former Pope Benedict XVI, and stay in administrative posts. The group, however, has won broad public backing in opinion polls for its pledge to break church rules by giving communion to Protestants and divorced Catholics who remarry.
Schuller said it is important for parish priests, many of whom are already quietly defying church doctrine by giving communion to divorced and remarried Catholics, to come out of the shadows.
“Don’t hide yourself in your parish communities,” Schuller said in his speech in Chicago. He said bishops know priests are defying doctrine at their parishes, but are comfortable about it because no one speaks out, so there seems to be no need for reform. “They got nervous when we spoke out.”
Schuller – who is from the Archdiocese of Vienna, the home of Sigmund Freud – said church leaders’ approach to dialogue is like “the man who goes to a psychoanalyst and says, ‘We can talk about everything, but not about my mother.'”
Dorothy Petraitis, 82, of Evanston, Illinois, who favors both married and women priests, told Schuller at his Chicago appearance that she is tired of waiting for the church to stop being a “dysfunctional family.”
“I want to be a member of a functioning church. That might mean I have to leave the church,” Petraitis said. “I don’t want to do that. Frankly, I’m a little pissed.”
“Please don’t leave the church,” said Schuller, who noted that he and his fellow rebel priests are often asked by conservatives why they don’t leave.
“We say the church is not a corporation for me. It’s not an apartment I have rented,” Schuller said. “We are church. It’s my church, and I want her to become changed.”
Complete Article HERE!
Holy smoke! Take the Catholic church gay art tour
With the Pope’s recent statements about homosexuality, the time is right for the Catholic church to take pride in its gay artists
By Jonathan Jones
The Pope has uttered some common sense words about homosexuality – and about time, too. While stopping well short of a full recognition of gay rights, his declaration that he does not “judge” is at least the start of a better approach by the Catholic church.
If Pope Francis wants to think more about this issue, he could do worse than take a tour of churches and galleries in Rome and the Vatican where, for centuries, gay artists have created the glories of the church.
In the Vatican museum he should contemplate Leonardo da Vinci’s St Jerome in the Desert. An ascetic sits in anguished thought in a rocky wilderness in this unfinished masterpiece. It is a great, introspectively spiritual work of religious art whose creator was well known for his love of young men. Leonardo surrounded himself with good-looking assistants and painted a subversively gay icon of male beauty, his bronzed Saint John the Baptist. When da Vinci was in his 20s, he was formally accused of sodomy.
Brooding on these facts, the Pope might walk into the Pauline Chapel, to look upon Michelangelo’s frescoes there. This chapel is in a private part of the Apostolic Palace not open to the public, but I don’t think the Pope would find entry difficult. There, looking at the suffering of the saints, he might consider how Michelangelo courageously expressed his love for men, even as he created some of the most eloquent art of the church.
Is there no escape from this issue? Remembering that some art historians deny the so-called “calumny” that Caravaggio and his clerical patrons were gay, perhaps the Pope might visit the Roman church of San Luigi dei Francesi to look on this master’s paintings of St Matthew. But the demons of desire cannot be suppressed. The naked male flesh in Caravaggio’s paintings tells its own story. By the time Caravaggio came to Rome in the 1590s, Leonardo and Michaelangelo – not to mention the aptly named Italian painter Il Sodoma – had already blazed a gay trail through the art of the Holy City. Caravaggio made art dangerous and exciting again by taking that homosexual impulse to new extremes.
The history of art is inseparable from the history of sexuality. Artists were adventurous characters in the past just as they are today. To make great art you have to take great risks. The Catholic church in its golden age knew this, and it commissioned the boldest and best, whatever the artist’s personal lives.
Perhaps the honesty of Pope Francis will renew art history, for pious timidity blunts understanding of great art. In particular, the myth that gay sex did not exist in the past, or was too risky, or could not be imagined, is nonsense. By the 18th century, gay clubs existed across Europe. The gay scene in Georgian London was intense. Is it really plausible that all this was going on in 1700 but unimaginable in Caravaggio’s Rome in 1600?
It is daft to deny the obvious homoeroticism of Leonardo or Caravaggio, and sophistry to claim that it’s irrelevant to their art. The British Museum is leading the way by drawing attention to the gay content of its collections. The Pope should urge the Vatican to do the same. Let the church take pride in its gay artists.
Complete Article HERE!
Atheists Who Do Good Are Redeemed, Not Just Catholics, says the pope
File Under: This is gonna make some waves!
Pope at Mass: Culture of encounter is the foundation of peace
(Vatican Radio) “Doing good” is a principle that unites all humanity, beyond the diversity of ideologies and religions, and creates the “culture of encounter” that is the foundation of peace: this is what Pope said at Mass this morning at the Domus Santae Martae, in the presence of employees of the Governorate of Vatican City. Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, concelebrated at the Mass.
Wednesday’s Gospel speaks to us about the disciples who prevented a person from outside their group from doing good. “They complain,” the Pope said in his homily, because they say, “If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” And Jesus corrects them: “Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good.” The disciples, Pope Francis explains, “were a little intolerant,” closed off by the idea of possessing the truth, convinced that “those who do not have the truth, cannot do good.” “This was wrong . . . Jesus broadens the horizon.” Pope Francis said, “The root of this possibility of doing good – that we all have – is in creation”:
“The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can. He must. Not can: must! Because he has this commandment within him. Instead, this ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God. That we can kill in the name of God. And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.”
“Instead,” the Pope continued, “the Lord has created us in His image and likeness, and has given us this commandment in the depths of our heart: do good and do not do evil”:
“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
“Doing good” the Pope explained, is not a matter of faith: “It is a duty, it is an identity card that our Father has given to all of us, because He has made us in His image and likeness. And He does good, always.”
This was the final prayer of Pope Francis:
“Today is [the feast of] Santa Rita, Patron Saint of impossible things – but this seems impossible: let us ask of her this grace, this grace that all, all, all people would do good and that we would encounter one another in this work, which is a work of creation, like the creation of the Father. A work of the family, because we are all children of God, all of us, all of us! And God loves us, all of us! May Santa Rita grant us this grace, which seems almost impossible. Amen.”
Complete Article HERE!