Challenging the Catholic Church’s posture towards homosexuality, gay marriage, contraception and the role of women without changing theology; at least not yet.
I’m assuming there are plenty of Catholics reacting in favor and against the Pope’s recent statements, but as an evangelical it has been fascinating to watch my Protestant brothers and sisters react.
For the most part (or at least those that are being vocal) the Evangelicals I’m hearing from are welcoming the new posture from the Pontiff. Even more interesting is the way some on this side of Reformation have been quick to point out our theological differences and draw more pronounced lines of division.
But at the core what has Pope Francis done?
He isn’t changing Catholic (and by extension) Christian orthodoxy. Maybe he will but the fear of such a change is a lazy excuse to ignore.
At this point he is reaching out to those he believes have been marginalized or ignored: the poor, the GLBT community, progressives, and many who don’t see the Catholic Church as a viable institution in their lives.
As an evangelical I can either look at how much the Catholic Church has alienated those within their tribe and the relative shock of the Pope’s words. Or I can realize that those who are disconnected see little difference in what I represent and what is represented in the Catholic Church.
Ministry conversations have been dominated by thoughts on connecting with the de/post/un-churched/christian crowd. Pope Francis is taking this from theoretical to the practical. I know he isn’t the first, but I’m hard pressed to find one with a bigger platform.