In an increasingly secular society Pope Francis is charged with ensuring the survival of the Roman Catholic Church. For centuries, Pope’s have overseen the world’s most dominant religion. The Catholic Church has survived scandal after scandal. Pedophile priests, the forced immigration of children, and corrupt banking practices are just a few of the matters that Pope Francis and his predecessor have had to deal with in recent years. As List Verse points out, there have also been scandals around the Catholic Church’s collaboration with Nazi’s, and its alleged mafia links, as well as numerous sexual abuse scandals.
In the past, the Pope would have found it easy to bury such scandals. Pope Francis occupies a different world. The digital age ensures that scandals become public knowledge, not just in the community affected, but around the world. Over time, trust in the church has dwindled. In a recent UK government survey it was found that only 32 percent of people in the UK believe in “God.” A similar survey in the U.S., shows that over half of adults, who were raised in the Catholic faith, subsequently left the church.
With faith in religion, outside the Islamic world, at an all-time low, Pope Francis must battle to keep the church relevant in modern society. As a result, Pope Francis has put a modern spin on the papacy. Back in 2015, the Catholic News Service reported that Pope Francis recognized the need for the church to “understand the reality” of people’s lives, if it is to remain relevant in secular society.
Pope Francis is seen by many in the church as a modernizer, who understands that the world has changed. When it comes to issues like homosexuality, divorce, and contraception, Pope Francis has recognized that the church’s traditional and conservative approach is disregarded by many people. Pope Francis has indicated a wish for the Catholic Church to take a more pragmatic approach to these issues. Something the Spectator said could lead to the breakup of the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis To Consider Married Priests, Urges Catholics To Have Fewer Children
Earlier this week the Christian Post reported that Pope Francis wishes to see Catholic’s have fewer children. This is seen as the Pope recognizing the pressure that population growth is placing on the planet’s resources. Now it is being widely reported that Pope Francis wants the church to consider the ordination of married men as priests. It has long been the Catholic Church’s teaching that priests must be celibate.
Now Pope Francis wants to examine ways of addressing the worldwide shortage of Catholic priests.
“We must think about whether viri probati are a possibility. Then we have to decide what tasks they can take on, for example in remote communities”
According to the National Catholic Reporter, the term viri probati comes from the Latin “viri,” meaning “men,” and “probati,” meaning “proven” or “tested.” In this sense, it means that Pope Francis is open to the ordination of married men who have strictly adhered to the teachings of the church.
Of course, this latest move will do little to ease tensions between Pope Francis and the more conservative Bishops. Earlier this week the Financial Times revealed that Pope Francis is currently under attack by the far-right in Italy. Posters decrying Pope Francis’s position on social issues appeared all over the Italian capital.
It is claimed that, critics of Pope Francis’s “soft” stance on a range of issues, including immigration from Muslim countries, are behind the poster campaign, and that they have been “emboldened” by Donald Trump’s election win. Among Pope Francis’s fiercest critics is Roberto de Mattei, who says Pope Francis “failed to understand that Islam is an ‘aggressive religion’ that needed to be confronted.”
“The Catholic Church is in a state of unprecedented confusion. There is a lack of orientation and clarity which leads to tensions and divisions and paves the way for a schism. I have met various cardinals, bishops and priests who have privately expressed their discontent with the direction of this papacy.”
What seems clear, is that Pope Francis divides opinion. His determination to modernize Roman Catholic doctrine is bringing him into conflict within the church he leads. At the same time, he must deal with the seemingly unstoppable hemorrhaging of those who are turning away from the church altogether.
Pope Francis’s comments about married priests, and his urging of Catholics to have fewer children will probably not make him any more popular with conservatives inside the church.
[Featured Image by Gregorio Borgia/AP Images]