(Luca Zennaro/AFP/Getty Images)

The Catholic Church is too focused on “small-minded rules” and issues like homosexuality and abortion, Pope Francis said in a revealing interview with an Italian Jesuit magazine, released this week. We’ll discuss the Pope’s candid comments and what they say about his vision for the Church.

Guests:
Father Tom Reese, senior analyst for the National Catholic Reporter, former editor of America magazine and author of "Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church"
Rachel Zoll, national religion writer for the Associated Press
Jimmy Akin, columnist for the National Catholic Register and blogger at JimmyAkin.com

  • Ryan C. Crest

    What was this pope’s role in war criminal Henry Kissinger’s Operation Condor, which led to tens of thousands of leftists and suspected leftists in South America being rounded up and murdered? The truth is rather shocking and will make you think twice about whether this pope is a moral man.

    Learn about it here:
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/who-is-pope-francis-i-his-role-in-argentinas-dirty-war-interview-with-michel-chossudovsky/5327708

    • thucy

      You are mistaken. Others have noted the work Bergoglio conducted behind the scenes to shelter dissidents. Even the kidnapped Jalics said that Bergoglio was not to blame.
      No man is perfect, certainly no Pope is perfect. But I am thrilled to witness, in my lifetime, a Pope whose revolutionary words of kindness embody the values of St. Francis, and who is closer to the true spirit of Jesus Christ.
      Let us all – religious or not! – free ourselves of these small-minded arguments about “social issues” and get down to the real business of social JUSTICE. Food, clean water, and housing for all.
      It’s what that upstart Jewish radical Jesus Christ would have done, right after turning over the tables of the money changers in his father’s house and saving Mary Magdalene from the mob -all without having to throw a single punch.

      • Ryan C. Crest

        If I recall, Michel Chossudovsky in the linked-to MP3 interview addressed that one issue of sheltering and still had much to say about this pope’s activities. Listen to it…

        It’s not small minded to bring up leftists being thrown out of airplanes, or being killed in other ways by the 10’s of thousands, because of Operation Condor and Kissinger.

        • thucy

          there is much to admire about Chossudovsky, but I see his aims and that of Pope Francis as strongly linked. During the regime, Bergoglio played for time and behind the scenes – and this has been to the greater good. A true mensch, and an important anti-war, anti-plutocratic voice.

        • thucy

          “It’s not small minded to bring up leftists being thrown out of airplanes, or being killed in other ways by the 10’s of thousands, because of Operation Condor and Kissinger.”

          Of course it’s not, Ryan, but the overwhelming evidence is that Bergoglio had nothing to to with that.

      • thucy

        “Artist and human rights activist Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980, said: “Perhaps he didn’t have the courage of other priests, but he never collaborated with the dictatorship … Bergoglio was no accomplice of the dictatorship.”[100][101] Graciela Fernández Meijide, member of the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, also said that there was no proof linking Bergoglio with the dictatorship. She told Clarín: “There is no information and Justice couldn’t prove it. I was in the APDH during all the dictatorship years and I received hundreds of testimonies. Bergoglio was never mentioned. It was the same in the CONADEP. Nobody mentioned him as instigator or as anything.”[102] Ricardo Lorenzetti, President of the Argentine Supreme Court, also has said that Bergoglio is “completely innocent” of the accusations.[103]”

        • geraldfnord

          Well, we can’t expect him to show extraordinary courage—it’s not as if he believed that he had some sort of powerful universal force backing him up.

          • thucy

            Touche, Gerald! On the other hand, Bergoglio may well have enacted greater courage behind the scenes, as multiple Argentine sources testify.

          • geraldfnord

            I think I would have done just the same, but I both don’t believe I’ve got a Backer, and am something of a coward.

            Maybe he could claim the need to be as subtil as serpents, but I don’t know that he would have been in any more danger than (say) Archbishop Romero, and I can’t help but think that if he had spoken-up it wouldn’t be left to what some will dismiss as fringe leftists to bring up the issue.

            Has he ever said that he should have done more, and if so why he didn’t?

          • thucy

            Romero took a public stand and was killed. Per the accounts, Bergoglio worked behind the scenes to shelter dissidents. Both strategies were essential.

          • Sardukar

            Per the account = per the spin.

          • Sardukar

            I think Dostoyevsky said that church-men are actually the biggest atheists because they really know well what BS they’re spewing.

          • thucy

            And yet the man you reference, Dostoevsky, was passionately devout.

      • geraldfnord

        You’re saying that Maryam Migdala was the ‘woman taken in adultery’ of the story? I’ve never heard that one….

        • thucy

          Yeah, I no doubt conflated the two in my glee over Pope Frank’s statements. Sorry.

  • Cathy

    What is the response within the church to this pope?

  • geraldfnord

    His comments about gay people are equivocal, as I can’t help but interpret his ‘seeking the LORD’ as meaning ‘being as celibate as I’m supposed to be’…and until I hear that the Church won’t actively support the next Proposition 8, I’ll believe that they will.

    As for atheists and other non-Catholics: he’s actually coming down on one side of an issue which actually divides many Protestant sects: did Jesus die for all people, or just the ones who would accept him? He’s in effect saying that Jesus died for all, and _might_ save some of us who don’t believe that this were so.

    I’d be more interested in what he had to say about P. Pio IX’s “Pascendi Dominici Gregis” and other un-repudiated statements against (for example) true religious liberty and the separation of Peter from Constantine.

    • Bob Fry

      “did Jesus die for all people, or just the ones who would accept him?” Don’t know what the Pope is saying about this, but isn’t this one of those “how many angels can dance on a pin” issues that Jesus said the scribes loved to argue about but had no relevance to the Kingdom of God?

      • Sardukar

        Jesus was mainly concerned about his fellow Jews, not all people. It was Paul who opened the religion up to gentiles.

        • thucy

          So what? Pericles was mainly concerned with Athenians. Yet future generations adopted Periclean Democratic ideals within their own societies. We can share.

          • Sardukar

            Attributing a good idea to Jesus when Jesus did not support that good idea is stupid and dishonest. You can’t build a stable ideology on a foundation of lies.

    • thucy

      “His comments about gay people are equivocal, as I can’t help but interpret his ‘seeking the LORD’ as meaning ‘being as celibate as I’m supposed to be’…and until I hear that the Church won’t actively support the next Proposition 8, I’ll believe that they will.”
      That’s weird – I thought he was clear that seeking the Lord was serving the poor and, say, treating people more equally, e.g. when he washed the feet of women and Muslims.
      I think you might be hyper-focused on sexuality?

  • Kris Spinden

    I’m unclear as to the substance to the message the Pope has given. What I would like to see is a shift in understanding of the most pressing issues and how to re-prioritize and re-methodize the way to route out evils in the world. If acting on homosexual desires is a sin perhaps it is not as grievous of a sin as back biting or allowing the poor to go unfed.

    • thucy

      Which is exactly his point.

    • Sardukar

      Like all religious “sins” the sinfulness of homosexuality is an arbitrary invention.

      The church wants you to think it has a lock on morality. It doesn’t.

  • Tim San Jose

    an analogy, Power of God is an engine, Church (Catholic) is a transmission, wheels, we the people. Pope Francis has asked us to take it out of neutral and “engage” respectfully, lovingly.

    • Sardukar

      But there is no evidence for any god, therefore all morality based on god-belief is made-up. And the moral standards of the Church are highly suspect anyway. (Google: priests children) So where is this vehicle going to drive to? Popey wants the public to not fuss over little issues… like child rape perhaps? Or like the recent church finances scandal?

  • lindamat2001ca

    I feel this entire program is just an advertisement for the catholic church. Only 24% of Americans call themselves catholic, so why do we all have to hear this? I also feel that Dave Iverson once again is crossing the line of objectivity. Perhaps he is trying too hard to be objective, or maybe – he just isn’t trying hard enough. The new “pope” may be a nicer guy, but he has not changed any of the hard doctrine. For another perspective on the “good” the catholic church has done in the world see this debate: http://www.intelligencesquared.com/events/the-catholic-church-is-a-force-for-good-in-the-world/

    • thucy

      I’m not Catholic, but 24% of all Americans is nearly a quarter of our population!
      Not to mention its influence throughout the Americas, from which so many new US citizens originate!
      Not to mention all the archiving done by nuns and monks throughout the centuries.

      • Sardukar

        The argument that because a large X number of people believe claim Y is a logical fallacy.

        A falsehood (e.g. god existence) is not proven true because the millions believe it.

        • thucy

          But I never claimed that the number of believers proved the existence of God – I am merely pointing out that the percentage of believers means the media coverage is relevant and necessary.

          • Sardukar

            By that logic we should have hard core pórnography on TV, as it is far more popular than religious nonsense.

          • thucy

            No, dear, by that logic, media coverage (e.g. reporting, discussing) should not preclude the topic.

          • Sardukar

            By your logic, if 90% of men love their skin flicks more than Hollywood’s latest sitcoms, that should not preclude skin flicks from being included on TV.

      • Sardukar

        By your logic, if something is popular then it should be widely spread. But isn’t the latest skin flick popular? Why not put it on TV instead of this pope?

    • Bob Fry

      Many other Forum topics only interest a few percent of the KQED radio listeners (which is in Sacto also). This is entirely appropriate. Just tune it out if you don’t like it, as I do for other topics.

  • Camille

    It seems that the Pope is echoing the message of the Emergent Church movement. Perhaps this will be an opportunity for ALL Christians, Catholic or not, to unite and fulfill the “great commission” and be a people of Christ’s grace, truth, and love.

    • thucy

      I don’t think you have to be Christian, or even a believer in God(s) to take enormous happiness from the new Pope’s statements.

    • Sardukar

      So long as the teachings of Jesus and his brother James are tied to god-belief, they will be covered in the gunk of illogical religious thought and thereby undermined.

      • thucy

        You may suffer from a surfeit of faith in your own ability to reason. The fact that MLK was a “man of God” did not negate his ability to reason – or to organize.

        • Sardukar

          MLK was a C student in college. His ability to reason remains in doubt.

          • thucy

            So was Einstein. But both accomplished some pretty big-ticket items.

          • Sardukar
          • thucy

            Although his father’s letter hadn’t succeeded, a friend of Einstein’s from the university, Marcel Grossman, had pulled the right strings to get Einstein the patent job in 1902. Grossman’s help was necessary not so much because Einstein’s final university grades were unusually low—through cramming with the ever-useful Grossman’s notes, Einstein had just managed to reach a 4.91 average out of a possible 6, which was almost average—but because one professor, furious at Einstein for telling jokes and cutting classes.

          • Sardukar

            4.91/6 = .81 = a low B.

            It’s higher if you ignore his grade in French.

  • amyj1276

    I have a deep disgust with organized religion in
    general and with the Catholic church specifically. But I think that Pope
    Francis could be the best thing to happen to the Church, and although I
    doubt that it will become any bastion of progressive thought, I do
    think that it is slowly making its way out of the dark ages. I wouldn’t go nearly as far as all of the commenters are going, though. I don’t think for a second that practice on the ground will change very quickly, regardless of what this pope says to try to appease people and keep the church from becoming obsolete.

  • Emily

    Should we lapsed Catholics really be rejoicing? Pope Francis is not fundamentally changing anything at all about the Catholic Church as an institution. That said, public statements like this are critical because of the negative image that so many Catholics have had foisted upon them – particularly in the past ten years, during which the Church seems to have become proud to define itself through its hard-line agenda rather than its underlying principles. The Church’s critics appear to have accepted that hard-line definition of Catholicism and run with it. And those who loved their faith but rejected certain (even many) Church teachings were left without an institutional or media advocate, and ultimately without a true religious identity. It is a very sad loss.

    Rather than issuing a rallying cry for what amounts to a political crusade, Pope Francis’s approach offers lapsed Catholics and those raised in more liberal Catholic environments a more welcoming and familiar tone than they have heard in a long time. It is not one that proclaims a set of religious rules to be followed, but one that appeals to the very personal matter of individual faith. The even greater benefit may be that he is, at long last, offering the world a more nuanced view of what it can mean to be Catholic.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor