MANILA - There is no shattering of church conventions, it's just Pope Francis doing what he does best.
That’s how Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle described the Catholic Church’s top leader, who has titillated the minds of many – from the agnostic to the believer -- with his views on controversial issues.
Last month, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church must shake off an obsession with teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality and become more merciful or risk the collapse of its entire moral edifice "like a house of cards".
In a Reuters story, Francis said the Church had "locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules" and should not be so prone to condemn.
He also said priests should be more welcoming and not cold, dogmatic bureaucrats. The confessional, he added, "is not a torture chamber but the place in which the Lord's mercy motivates us to do better."
CBCP News quoted Tagle as saying that Pope Francis’ statements are not controversial at all since these are within the general teachings of the Catholic Church.
“First of all, there is much continuity for example in the teaching. I have not heard anything from the Pope that contradicts anything of the Catholic traditions,” Tagle said in an interview with the Vatican Radio.
He said the actions of Francis are a reflection of his values, anchored on diverse experiences.
“I also see something that is not only unique to Pope Francis but to all the past popes (as well)—they bring to the papacy their unique personalities, backgrounds, choices in life, and priorities. And each one, being true to himself, opens up to the whole world a dimension of the gospel,” Tagle said.
“And I rejoice in this continuity yet this deeply and intimately personal way of incarnating the papal ministry,” he said.
Pope Francis continues to delight his followers beyond his first “selfie” with young people beside him. Besides his controversial statements on gays and abortion, he also managed to make enemies with moves to oust top officials in the secretive Vatican bank as well as the so-called “bling” bishop.
Tagle said that because of Pope Francis, the church is taking steps to move closer to the people.
“For Pope Francis…you see the significant role of the family…you see popular religiosity, you see regular pastors dealing with people,” he said. “In fact, for example in the Philippines, (pastors) don’t wait to go to the people. Instead, the people are the ones who run to the pastor. This is part of the papacy now.”
Tagle, himself known as a jolly man, added: “In a survey in the Philippines, the young people said that they are turned off by a church that is quite judgmental—a church that comes across as pessimistic and heavy, a church that does not rejoice at anything as though there is no sign of hope, not even a single sign of hope in the world,” he said.
“And so they appreciate the capacity to be happy about life, to be joyful about life,” he said. -- with a report from Reuters