Pope’s statements signal positive change for Catholic Church

Here’s some reality: Gay culture is becoming increasingly more accepted as the lifestyle is becoming more common in pop-culture and in everyday life. Abortion remains a highly contentious topic that will likely never reach a legal resolution any time soon. Contraception is part of a healthy lifestyle for those who engage in sexual intercourse.

Pope Francis’ bombshell announcement last week that Catholics have become obsessed with gay marriage, abortion and contraception signaled to me that this pope is taking the church in the right direction.

For me, religion is meant to provide spiritual guidance so you have a way to model your life and grapple with life’s profound questions. It should not be used as a vehicle for pushing your ideals onto others.

The Pope’s undermining of some of the most hot-button social issues directs the focus of the church back to its fundamental virtues of universal love and service to those in need.

The Pope phrased this in an elegant metaphor: “I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars. You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else.”

The Pope’s words sought to unify the more liberal branch of Catholics who were more or less ignored during the previous two papacies.

Granted, it aggravated some of the more conservative Catholics who feel the need to crusade against marriage equality and a woman’s right to control her own body. But this is for the better.

The church’s conservative branch, particularly those who are very outspoken about their opposition to gay rights, abortion and contraception, are behind the times. Thus it tends to push young people away from the church, instead of drawing them in with the good that spirituality has to offer.

This can be illustrated by the numerous religious demonstrators that come to campus and camp out on the Quad, advocating a host of extreme convictions, in some cases telling students that they are going to hell. These demonstrators receive a lot of attention, but not from students who are looking to join a religious congregation (it’s usually just hecklers or curious observers).

If anything it makes students more hesitant to take up any faith at all.

Instead the church should focus on the value that the Gospel can bring to young people.

Being happy depends on striving for a healthy balance of monetary freedom and interpersonal relationships. While students on campus are very keen on addressing the first part through resume building and their inherent consumerism, they often miss out on the fact that no matter how much money you make or how high you rise on the corporate ladder, you can never really be happy unless you have the other side strongly in place.

The stories that the church teaches contains valuable lessons in handling these relationships, by exhibiting love and compassion for everyone in the face of contentious pride and injustice. This is the message that would make people want to join a religious institution, not the dogmatic rules that command them to abide by certain behaviors.

His statement can also be seen as representing the social progress that has been made in recent years, particularly in regard to gay rights.

A growing portion of the world opposing the church’s insistent focus on these contentious issues may have been the motivation for him to back off on them. This would indicate a world shifting toward tolerance, which is the precursor of peace. And peace is something that any denomination can support.

The Pope’s statement along with his other actions thus far have represented what a religious leader should be: an inspiring voice that speaks to the reality of the human spirit, not an untouchable old man in a high tower who conveys the same tired messages. It certainly changed my outlook on the church, and I can only pray that such progress will continue.

Andrew is a junior in Engineering. He can be reached at [email protected]