Wrong on the women question, but Pope Francis is a clear voice for decency
Opinion: Pontiff’s declaration that he is a sinner is not merely an affectation
Throughout the interview he speaks about community and how he himself has a sense of loss without it. When speaking about infallibility, he speaks in terms of the Christian community being infallible (“all the faithful considered as a whole, are infallible in matters of belief”). That strong sense of community is so much at variance with the ethos of our time in which people are seen as individuals, pared off from society, pursuing individual agendas and interests. He says at one point: “I cannot live my life without others.”
He says at another: “No one is saved alone, as an isolated individual, but God attracts us looking at the complex web of relationships that take place in the human community. God enters this dynamic, this participation in the web of human relationships.”
Even for those of us among the “faithless”, this is stirring stuff, challenging the “common sense” of our time.
Pope Francis speaks movingly about his mother and father and particularly of his grandmother, Rosa, “who loved me so much”. He speaks of the Catholic Church which, “sometimes has locked itself up in small things” and later: “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods.”
There are dark passages too. He talks of “female machismo” in a dismissive reference to feminism: “A woman has a different make-up to a man.” He should be encouraged to read Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble.
This is followed by blather on a new theology of women, diverting attention from the scandal of the church’s promotion in its ceremonies, organisation and culture of the supposed inferiority of women.
The stuff about charity is also discomforting – why the rephrasing of Paul’s “faith, hope and love” to “faith, hope and charity?”
But that aside, this is a welcome clear and honest voice for decency.