Pope Francis is getting praise from unexpected places, such as this week's Rolling Stone magazine, over what is seen as a radical shift in tone that stands in stark contrast to his two immediate predecessors.

This is a "revolutionary" Pope, in touch with common people, because all the right people hate and reject him, at least in the United States. Or so the story goes. But it's not a narrative I agree with.

Has any Church doctrine actually changed? Are the messages any different, despite the kinder, gentler delivery? Or the emphasis on other messages, like rebuking the rich for exploiting the poor?

Not remotely.

"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. [...] But the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives. Today sometimes it seems that the opposite order is prevailing." - Pope Francis, during an interview with the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica

Francis makes clear that Church teaching on existing issues is well-known and he supports it. Francis isn't changing any Church rules, he just isn't talking about them.

In other words, shout the prime directive-- Jesus died for our sins-- but the details that our "sins" consist of things like LGBT rights, women's reproductive rights, and control of STDs, must be held silent behind a friendly smile.

This is the "revolution" of Pope Francis: nothing has changed.

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I think its just sickening that the Rolling Stone has decided to put the pope on their front cover. Times are a chaining? Not for the Catholic Church there not, they are just rebranding their old ideas. 

Excellent post btw

Very much agreed

In other words, my rather cynical suspicions confirmed.

Francis is a pragmatist. He realizes that continued sweeping of Catholic embarrassments under the carpet will be to the detriment of the Church's ongoing health. The prevalence of homosexual activity in the upper echelons of Vatican officialdom will not make his pleas for forgiveness any more palatable. The abuses will likely continue as they are so ingrained into the fabric of Church life. I suspect the hypocritical activities will be covered with a thicker cloak of secrecy to avoid further scandal.  

The Pope on the cover of the Rolling Stone??? Dr Hook must be pissed.

Some aspects of him are revolutionary, but in a world where very small changes qualify as revolutions.

He does criticize out-of-control capitalism, and that's probably considered revolutionary in a lot of boardrooms.

It's not new for the Catholic church to be doing this.

I recall conservatives (even Catholic ones) kvetch about this as far back as the 1980s and I am sure it goes back further than that.  (I can't speak to what happens in board rooms but I don't imagine it's much different if/when religious subjects even comes up--which I doubt is all that common; they have business (in both senses of the word) to attend to and time is money.)  

I personally don't understand their surprise at this sort of thing, the new testament is full of Jesus making pronouncements that it's your duty to help those worse off than yourself, even--no, especially--if it is at great cost to yourself.  Many of the monastic orders from the Middle Ages carried this to its logical conclusion.  That's incompatible with laissez faire capitalism and also with the sorts of corporate welfare and government favoritism towards donors that we see today.

This is why I'm not in the camp of those who feel that Christianity has no mitigating aspects whatsoever.

For me, the problem with Christianity isn't its occasional and frequent bad deeds and misdeeds, it is that the central doctrine about God and the silliness of The Resurrection can't possibly be true.


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