In the lengthy and remarkably blunt interview released Thursday, Sept. 19, Pope Francis said the church should be a “home for all” and not a “small chapel” focused on doctrine, orthodoxy and a limited agenda of moral teachings.
Francis warned that the Catholic Church's moral structure might "fall like a house of cards" if it doesn't balance its divisive rules about abortion, gays and contraception with the greater need to make it a merciful, more welcoming place for all.
Francis said that someone once asked him if he “approved” of homosexuality. “I replied with another question,” he said. “‘Tell me, when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being.”
In the 12,000 word interview, the pontiff, who came to power in March after the sudden resignation of Pope Benedict, said:
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.
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. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards.
Francis is clearly correct about the Roman Catholic Church’s unhealthy obsession with abortion, gays and contraception; and it seems apparent that Francis is a genuine and decent human being.
However, critics would argue that Francis is mistaken in thinking that the moral foundations of the church are threatened. Indeed, critics would make a strong argument that any moral foundation the church may have once possessed, long ago collapsed in a ruinous heap.
Church critics need only point to the countless children raped and abused by Catholic clergy, and a church hierarchy that systematically covered up and enabled the sexual abuse of children around the world, to make a strong argument that the Catholic Church's moral foundation collapsed like a house of cards long ago, and that the moral edifice of the church stands in ruin, without any claim to moral authority.