Pope Francis Pushes For A Bigger Catholic Tent

A new kind of Pope. Pope Francis says let’s not obsess on gays and abortion. We look at where he may be taking the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis looks on during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. (AP)

Pope Francis looks on during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. (AP)

What a pope Catholics have right now. Out with the fancy car, and in with the little Fiat. A pope who takes the bus, and talks everywhere, all the time about reaching out to all.

Sits down for a big interview and says the Catholic Church has been too obsessed with abortion, gay marriage and contraception.  Is asked about gays and says “Who am I to judge?”  This is a new tone, new talk from the top of the Catholic Church.

This hour, On Point:  a new kind of pope, and what Pope Francis means for the Catholic church.

– Tom Ashbrook


Scott Appleby, professor of history and director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Damon Linker, contributing editor at The New Republic. His piece on Pope Francis’ comments is “Pope Francis’s Comments on Gays and Abortion Are Not a ‘Revelation.'” (@damonlinker)

R.R. Reno, editor of First Things magazine, a monthly journal of religion, culture and public life. He is a Catholic and a theological and political conservative. (@rr_reno)

From Tom’s Reading List

National Catholic Review: A Big Heart Open To God — “This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity. And the church is Mother; the church is fruitful. It must be.”

Washington Post: In Interview, Pope Sets A New Direction For the Church — “While Francis spoke with remarkable openness about religious doubt and uncertainty (‘If one has the answers to all the questions—that is the proof that God is not with him.’), he said nothing that altered church teaching. Nonetheless, it was clear that he was setting a new direction for the church.  “He has not changed anything doctrinal,’ said Father James Martin, editor-at-large of America, the Jesuit magazine that published the interview in English. ‘But he is encouraging us to shift our priorities from hot button issues to God’s mercy.'”

The Dish: The Rebirth of Catholicism — “Faith is not in the head; it is in the soul and heart and body. It is our acting in the world, not our debating the finer parts of infallible doctrine in an ‘inverted funnel’. And look how Francis uses the term ‘infallible.’ He uses it not to refer to the papacy, but to the people of God, you and me, and not in terms of possession of the truth, but rather the open search for it.”


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