Protestant numbers may be impacted.
Score another one for the new Pope. In his latest interview, which appeared in a Jesuit publication, he said doctrinal issues like the question of gays, abortion, and contraception, should not be overemphasized at the cost of “losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”
The Pope said it isn’t necessary to talk about these issues all the time, or the “moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards.” Instead, the church should be focusing more on mercy for the suffering, and addressing concerns that affect people every day.
Stands like these keep shocking the Catholic establishment – but garnering greater and greater popularity for this populist Pope, whose approval rating continues to soar. The latest Pew Research Center poll, released this month, reported that 79 percent of Catholics view him favorably, compared to only four percent who do not.
American Catholics, in particular, are finding that his views are more in tune with theirs. For example:
- Most American Catholics think abortion should be legal, “in all or most cases,” by a 55-43 percent majority, according to a Washington Post/ABC poll released in July.
- 82 percent of American Catholics say birth control is morally acceptable, according to a Gallup poll.
- Most Catholic voters (54-38 percent ) support same sex marriage, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.
- And, most American Catholics think priests should be allowed to marry, 62-30 percent, also according to Quinnipiac!
With trends like this, Protestants might be wise to sit up and take notice. The tendency for many Catholics to leave the church for Protestant denominations that are more liberal, accepting, and progressive, might be changing. The growth of Protestant churches as a result of hardline Catholic policies could be over, if this new Pope has his way.
So where do Protestants go from here? Certainly, the route not to take is sticking their heads in the sand.