The audacity of pope
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The pontiff's rejection of old dogmas could renew a church that seems out of step with the times.
To those outside its ambit — and to some of the faithful, too — the Church of Rome has seemed to be an anachronism in recent years. Its morally problematic dogmas on issues like birth control and homosexuality have estranged it from a society which believes that diversity and choice produce richer lives than normative cultures. It was desperately in need of a leader like Pope Francis, whose interview by Antonio Spadaro, SJ, has appeared in Jesuit publications worldwide.
The first Jesuit pope has said that the church has been obsessing on "small things and small-minded rules". He wants to bring the focus back to cardinal virtues like humility and compassion. If a homosexual seeks God, "who am I to judge?" he has asked. He insists that the church must use the old ways to address new realities. He wants a church built large to accommodate all, not a chapel for the select. Unexpected and welcome words from the leader of a faith that appeared to be in danger of becoming backward-looking.
Pope Francis is speaking the language of the founding fathers in a secular accent. He speaks of the brick and mortar of the old church — words like "mystery" and "love". He suggests that the core of Catholicism is the promise of salvation, not the certainty of damnation that is assumed to be the default fate of humanity. This is a man who enjoys Fellini and Chagall, and turns to Puccini's "Turandot" to seek the meaning of the most Christian virtue: hope. Just when the church faces an intellectual and moral crisis, a Renaissance man is at the helm, and may secure its salvation.
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