Vatican Conservatives are, apparently, less than happy with the election of Pope Francis I a few months out from his ascension to the Papacy. Pope Francis has been less than willing to make public pushes regarding same-sex marriage and abortion. While he has spoken broadly about the issues, he has not wanted to wade into the national debates about them.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia noted this during an interview with the National Catholic Reporter. He noted that some right wingers in the Church are feeling disillusioned with Frances saying “They generally have not been really happy about his election, from what I’ve been able to read and to understand. He’ll have to care for them, too, so it will be interesting to see how all this works out in the long run.”
Chaput noted that many lapsed Catholics and non-Catholics have been impressed with Francis saying “My sense is that practicing Catholics love him and have a deep respect for him, but they’re not actually the ones who really talk to me about the new pope. The ones who do are nonpracticing Catholics or people who aren’t Catholic or not even Christian. They go out of their way to tell me how impressed they are and what a wonderful change he’s brought into the church. It’s interesting to see that it’s the alienated Catholic and the non-Catholic and the non-Christians who have expressed their enthusiasm more than Catholics have. It’s not that Catholics aren’t impressed, too, but they’re ordinarily impressed with the pope.”
For many, Francis’ less confrontational tone harkens back to Pope John Paul II, who was well loved or at least respected even by many non-Catholics.
Part of it has to do with something that Chaput stated. The bishop noted that “I think what he said to the Italian bishops is that he’s not going to become involved in political issues.”
Of course, Chaput disagrees saying that “For me, issues such as abortion and the meaning of marriage aren’t political issues; they’re doctrinal and moral. We all as bishops, including the bishop of Rome, have to talk about those things. It would be very strange to think you can make that separation. It usually comes from those who want to claim that those two issues are political, which is often what happens in the States. We’re told to keep our nose out of politics, when really, our nose is in morality.”
Pope Francis may be striking a balance between the political and religious. He is not speaking heavily about those issues directly in order to keep out of the political realm while still speaking about them in the religious context.
In fact, Chaput even noted that by saying “ I think the pope has spoken very clearly about the value of human life. He hasn’t expressed those things in a combative way, and perhaps that’s what some are concerned about, but I can’t imagine that he won’t be as pro-life and pro-traditional marriage as any of the other popes have been in the past.”
Unfortunately for many Conservatives within the Catholic Church, the desire is not for this to be religious, but rather for this to be political, and they are upset that Pope Francis, unlike his predecessor Pope Benedict, has been unwilling to enter the political arena. Pope Benedict XVI pushed the Catholic Church into the political arena repeatedly.
Pope Francis is the first Jesuit to rise to the rank of Pope. Jesuits have been known to be focused heavily on helping others, being austere and highly educated. The Jesuit Order has made waves in recent years by questioning the Vatican on birth control, abortion, female priests and homosexuality.
Pope Francis has also made waves by pushing for austerity in the Catholic Church and having more money flow to the poor and the needy than into the Vatican coffers.