The Pope has said that the Catholic Church must adopt a new approach when dealing with the children of divorced and gay parents, or risk alienating the next generation.
In a speech to the Catholic Union of Superiors General in November the Pope warned against administering a “vaccine against faith” to children who come from family units which are at odds with the official position of Holy Mother Church.
Pope Francis told the Union:
“On an educational level, gay unions raise challenges for us today which for us are sometimes difficult to understand. The number of children in schools whose parents have separated is very high. I remember a case in which a sad little girl confessed to her teacher: ‘my mother’s girlfriend doesn’t love me.’”
Pope Francis was praised by many liberals and progressives for his proclamation last year that he was in no position to judge a homosexual person who believes in God. While his remarks represent a welcome departure from the repellent attitudes of his deeply conservative predecessor, Joseph Ratzinger, it must be remembered that the Vatican is a highly factional and opaque institution. His liberal remarks on homosexuality and divorce will no doubt be met with alarm by the conservative and traditional wings of the Church, who still dominate much of the Vatican bureaucracy and hierarchy.
As an atheist and Marxist and humanist I agree with many of the Pope’s recent statements on acceptance of homosexuals and his criticism of international capitalism. He is, I believe, a genuine reformer, and I welcome his comments. However these public remarks must be measured against official practice. The Church remains resolutely opposed to the use of contraception, same-sex marriage and abortion.
While it has softened its stance on acceptance of individuals involved with these practices, it still maintains one sinister claim: that it possesses a truth and morality not available to the rest of us, and that it can make pronouncements on how people should conduct themselves in both their public and private lives. Until that false claim is challenged and we, as a species, begin to look to ourselves for answers to the major questions of our time, and do not refer our problems upward to a human, fallible, bureaucratic and political institution, it is pointless to talk about the “liberalization” of the Church.