Welcome Pope Francis: The Catholic Church Needs a Change in Culture
“We welcome Pope Francis,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, “and look forward to hearing about his priorities in the coming days. We do not expect very many changes, but sincerely hope that the culture will change to better reflect the needs of the church and of Catholics. As Cardinal Bergoglio, he was outspoken against the recent liberalization of Argentinian laws on abortion, stating flatly that ‘abortion is never a solution.’ But this is no surprise, as he and his fellow electors were all appointed by his two conservative predecessors, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II.
“We recall with fondness Pope John XXIII, who confronted the troubles of his day by convening the Second Vatican Council ‘to open the windows of the church to let in some fresh air.’ Pope Francis needs to go even farther and throw open the Vatican’s doors to shed some light on a bureaucracy that has allowed the management of the Vatican Bank and the sexual abuse crisis to get completely out of hand. Facing this reality, and the other problems within the church, requires leadership, and leadership is something different than simply referring back to the established Vatican playbook. This is where we could use a pastoral pope, one who recognizes that the main role of the hierarchy is not to become enmeshed in politics but to focus on developing relationships within and outside the Catholic community.
“We call on Pope Francis to recognize that he is now the head of a very diverse church, one that includes Catholics who use contraception, who have or provide abortions, who seek fertility treatments, who engage in sexual relationships outside of marriage or with people of the same sex, as well as people who are living with HIV & AIDS. These Catholics are absolute traditionalists in that they live according to their consciences and by virtue of their faith every day. A leader of our church who affirms rather than denies the lived wisdom of the faithful would be well within the Catholic tradition as well.”