Last Thursday, the New York Times reported that "Six months into his papacy, Pope Francis sent shock waves" through the Roman Catholic Church "with the publication of his remarks that the church had grown “obsessed” with abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he had chosen not to talk about those issues despite recriminations from critics." The Pope certainly sounds a lot like establishment Republicans on Capitol Hill who are always reminding their more conservative base that the only way to advance the interests of the party is to broaden its base by abandoning its obsession on issues such as tax cuts and limited government. Why is it that Democrats never ask their supporters to tone down their obsession with killing the unborn or taking away private health insurance or opening the floodgates for illegals or promoting homosexuality or destroying the Constitution? Where is their balanced approach, their desire to compromise, their yearning for a broader tent that includes members of the Tea Party?
While some may claim that the Pope was merely trying to make the point that the overarching message of the Catholic Church should be one of love and forgiveness and serving the poor, his words revealed what leaders of the church must be thinking: that the pews are empty because people are weary of a church that takes a principled stand on issues such as abortion and gay marriage. This is the same mindset that prevents Republicans from being a relevant political party (even when they are in the majority!). Republican leaders truly believe that their party's failure to attract more voters is a result of conservatives within their ranks prattling on about cutting government spending or repealing Obamacare or controlling illegal immigration. They think that only by softening their message to one of inclusion and by making compromise their core objective will people line up to register as Republicans. Like the Pope, establishment Republicans want a "home for all" that serves no other purpose than advancing the evil and destructive policies of the Left.
Curiously, this approach has been tried by Republicans for years, which is why they are a party without principle, without purpose, and without power. The only inroads that Republicans have made in recent years is due to Tea Party conservatives who actually give voters in their districts a clear alternative to progressive policies. Unlike establishment Republicans, we never hear the Left apologizing for its beliefs. Another hundred years of a Senate controlled by Democrats and we'll never hear its party leaders cautioning the fold to stop its obsession with gay marriage or amnesty. Pope Benedict must be taking a page out of the Republican playbook, but he'll soon find out that making the Catholic Church just like every other house of worship on the block will leave people thinking they're all the same. Apologizing for believing in something will create additional fissures in the church that will become wider as the Evil Left worms its way into the Catholic leadership (apparently one worm has already reached the top.)
Already, the Times reports that the Pope's words "evoked gratitude and hope from many liberal Catholics who had felt left out in the cold during the papacies of Benedict and his predecessor, John Paul II, which together lasted 35 years. Some lapsed Catholics suggested on social media a return to the church, and leaders of gay rights and gay Catholic groups called on bishops to abandon their fight against gay marriage." Like progressives in American politics, these people have no interest in embracing the Catholic Church, they just want to punish it and destroy it. Principled Catholics who excuse Francis' words will soon learn that those on the Left smell blood when they see a willingness by the opposition to compromise. The Pope could announce that he is gay and claim that aborting fetuses is a good way to control the population, and there would still be more people gathered in bars watching football on a Sunday afternoon than humbling themselves before the altar at St. Augustine's. Like Barack Hussein Obama's balanced approach to solving America's problems, Pope Francis' desire for a balanced approach to Christianity is akin to inviting the devil into your house and hoping that he'll be your friend. Francis' ambivalence toward policies that kill babies and prevent new babies from being conceived is puzzling. The Catholic Church needs to explain how this approach serves the interests of humanity, let alone the interests of the Church, if it expects to hold on to its dwindling flock.