Pope calls for church that ‘keeps the doors open’
Pope Francis addresses many of the hottest issues of his pontificate
Pope Francis: “Women are asking deep questions about what must be addressed. The church cannot be herself without the woman and her role
The idea that the Catholic Church’s teachings represent “a monolith to defend without nuance or different understandings is wrong”.
That is just one of the many typically provocative statements made by Pope Francis in the course of an intriguing, 10,000-word interview to Jesuit a journal, released yesterday.
In conversation with Jesuit theologian Fr Antonio Spadaro, editor of the Italian Jesuit magazine, La Civiltà Cattolica, Pope Francis addresses many of the hottest issues of his pontificate, seemingly hinting at future change.
At the same time he offers more personal thoughts, revealing his enthusiasm for the German poet Friedrich Hoelderlin, for Russian painter Marc Chagall, for Mozart’s C Minor Mass and for films such as Fellini’s La Strada and Rossellini’s Roma Città Aperta.
In the interview, Father Spadaro underlines the “simple, austere” nature of the Pope’s room in the Vatican’s glorified B&B, the Domus Santa Marta. He says that the workspace is small and that there are only a few objects in the room – an icon of St Francis; a statue of Our Lady of Lujàn (the patron saint of Argentina); a crucifix; and a statue of St Joseph sleeping.
Father Spadaro concludes that “the spirituality of Jorge Mario Bergoglio is not made of ‘harmonized energies’ . . . but rather of human faces: Christ, St Francis, St Joseph and Mary”.
In a far-ranging interview there is no doubt that two of the most interesting issues confronted by Francis are the role of women in the Church and Catholic teaching on homosexuality.
With regard to gays, Pope Francis basically repeated concepts outlined on the aircraft back from the World Youth Day celebrations in Brazil in July, saying: “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘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?’.
“During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says . . .”
Calling for a church that “keeps the doors open”, Pope Francis called for an attitude of “wound healing” in relation to women who have had abortions and to those who have remarried.
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods . . . 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.”
Asked about the role of women in the church, Francis again hinted at change, when saying: “Women are asking deep questions about what must be addressed. The church cannot be herself without the woman and her role. The woman is essential for the church. Mary, a woman, is more important than the Bishops . . .
“We must therefore investigate further the role of women in the church.”
Much of the interview inevitably concerns itself with reflections on the nature of faith
“Our life is not given to us like an opera libretto, in which all is written down; but it means going, walking, doing, searching, seeing. . .
“We must enter in the adventure of the quest for meeting God; we must let God search and encounter us, he said during the interview.”
The full text of the Pope's interview is available here