Saturday, January 07, 2017

How will the Catholic Church change after Pope Francis is gone?

Some people are asking what will become of the Church following the pontificate of Pope Francis. 

While such a question borders on the unthinkable, it is one that is being posed in many parishes.

Pope Francis recently turned 80 and shows no signs of slowing down or stopping. 

However, his pontificate has inspired powerful reactions. 

Many Catholics are energized and excited by his work, but there are also those who feel he is too progressive, or liberal for lack of a better term.

For the record, political labels don't work well with the popes of the present age, who are far less political than their forebears.

Pope Francis has been seen as a liberalizing influence on the Church. He has recommended allowing the divorced and remarried into communion, and he has been militant about advocating for the poor and disenfranchised. On a trip to the U.S., he canceled a lunch with Washington elites for lunch at a homeless shelter.

Such deeds are inspiring, but others see him as diminishing the importance of ancient Church doctrine.

It doesn't help that the media continually attempts to co-opt Pope Francis as one of their own. No matter what Pope Francis says, the media has a tendency to misconstrue his words to suggest schism, or that the Pope is somehow flaunting the ancient traditions and teachings of the Church.

The reality is, Pope Francis is far from political. He has spoken plainly and authoritatively on the sanctity of marriage, the danger of sexual immorality, and the importance of people accepting and following Christ. He has spoken against the folly of atheism and has not pledged that atheists go to heaven.

However, his primary message remains the importance of pastoral care in dealing with all people.

When Pope Francis is gone, the Church will probably see a shift in emphasis. There are times to talk about marriage, times to talk about life and times to talk about the spiritual realm. Each pope has their expertise.

However, these changes should never be construed to suggest a pope is mistaken, or that some error has been introduced to the faith. Also, change is not something to be feared. In fact, it's a remarkable thing to see. 

The Church has changed with the times, but the teachings of Christ remain equally valid and entirely unchanged. 

There is nothing wrong with it; it is precisely how God intends the Church to be.

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