Pope Francis is shaking up the Catholic Church by encouraging, and in some cases, forcing change on the 2,000-year-old Church. He wants:
- a renewed emphasis on helping the poor, those living in the margins,
- reforms to the Vatican Bank and the Church curia,
- an easing of restrictions on liberal nuns,
- support for a Palestinian state,
- a more intense response to priestly sexual abuse, and
- a better worldwide response to global warming.
Francis has also given up many of the trappings of the papacy, choosing a somewhat simpler lifestyle than that of his predecessors.
According to an article by Robert Draper in NG (Aug 2015):
This would appear to be the pope’s mission: to ignite a revolution in the Vatican and beyond its walls, without overturning a host of long-held precepts. “He won’t change doctrine,” insists an Argentine friend. “What he will do is return the church to its true doctrine–the one it has forgotten, the one that puts man back in the center. By putting the suffering of man, and his relationship with God, back in the center, these harsh attitudes toward homosexuality, divorce and other things will start to change.
Francis has only been the pope for 2 years, yet he has captured the imagination of Christians around the world. But not everybody is happy with pace of change. Conservatives are unhappy with many of the changes, and liberals would like more change and faster change.
Ross Douthat, a conservative Catholic, listed his concerns in a 25 Oct 14 column in the New York Times. He then warned the pope not to “break the church” to promote his personal goals, explaining that if he continues to alienate conservative Catholics, it could lead to a “real schism.”
According to Patricia Miller, posting on religiondispatches.org (28 Jul 15) about a recent conference held in Chicago titled: “Women in the Catholic Church: What Francis Needs to Know”:
The participants, many of them long-time social justice activists, were generally grateful for Francis’s strong language on economic inequality and environmental degradation. However, they decried the pope’s blind spots when it comes to women.
So conservatives are uncomfortable and liberal feminists are antsy for faster change. It appears that Pope Francis may be pushing just hard enough, but not too hard. I’m sure that many non-Catholic Christians–like those in the LDS Church–yearn for a charismatic leader like Francis.