Pope Francis, in the first extensive interview of his six-month-old papacy, said that the Roman Catholic church had grown “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he has chosen not to speak of those issues despite recriminations from some critics.
In remarkably blunt language, Francis sought to set a new tone for the church, saying it should be a “home for all” and not a “small chapel” focused on doctrine, orthodoxy and a limited agenda of moral teachings.
It’s been noted several times before that there is a conservative wing of the church that would be happy to see a much smaller Catholicism if it could be made “pure.” One journalist even compared it to a star going nova, shedding the bulk of its mass and being reduced to a neutron star.
Francis has now made it clear that this will not happen on his watch. He wants a broader, more inclusive church that is not hell-bent on fighting the culture wars to the death.
It’s still early days yet, and we may see him tack back to the conservative wing as time passes. But for now, it looks like we’ve got a much more moderate pope than I would have guessed. We’ll see how much headway he can make against the reactionaries.