Tags: Pope | Francis Effect | Vatican | gay | liberal | conservative | Catholics

Newsmax Vatican Reporter: The 'Francis Effect' Has Limits

By    |   Wednesday, 18 February 2015 08:00 PM

Even as the leader of an openly gay Catholic delegation was crediting the "Francis effect" for her presence at the Vatican on Ash Wednesday, it's still not clear how successful Pope Francis can ever be in reconciling more gay people to Catholicism, says Newsmax Vatican correspondent Edward Pentin.

While debate about Francis' outreach to the gay faithful continues within the church and among interested observers, "How much of it is getting to those outside of the church, or [getting] those who left the church back into the church?" Pentin said in an interview with "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Wednesday.

"And that's essentially what the Pope wants, to bring people back into the church," said Pentin.

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But the "Francis effect" — the sense of a new openness in the Church under this outspoken pontiff — still has to contend with Catholic teaching, which holds that homosexual acts are sinful, he said.

So gay Catholics who seek more accommodation from Francis might find that kind words and groundbreaking invitations are as far as he will go, Pentin explained.

"The Pope's emphasis is to show the loving mercy and unconditional love of God to everybody in the hope that they will come back [to the church], their lifestyles will change, and they'll turn away from what the church considers to be sinful behavior," said Pentin.

Given that stance, "It's not clear yet just what effect the Francis effect is having," he said.

Meanwhile, some conservative Catholics worry that Francis has already conceded too much.

"His argument would be that … he is being faithful to the church's teaching, but he's going about it in a different way," said Pentin. "That different way makes a lot of people concerned."

The fear is that Francis, in trying to de-emphasize the doctrine on homosexuality, "is actually undermining the church's teaching," and that his abiding attitude is "being used by opponents of the church to essentially weaken the church's teaching and bring in, make acceptable, all of these issues like gay rights — and other issues, too, like cohabitation," Pentin said.

"That's the issue at the center here, really — the approach to these issues and whether or not the Pope is actually being … used by these groups, especially these lobby groups, to further their own ends," he said.

"There are certainly some pockets of traditional Catholics who are very concerned about this and think that the Pope is going way off, and they suspect him of actually supporting this," Pentin said.

Catholics might learn more in October, when the Vatican is scheduled to host its next assembly of bishops — a synod — for a conference on family life where "these issues will be discussed more fully," Pentin said.

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Even as the leader of an openly gay Catholic delegation was crediting the "Francis effect" for her presence at the Vatican on Ash Wednesday, it's still not clear how successful Pope Francis can be in reconciling more gays to Catholicism, says Newsmax's Vatican correspondent.
Pope, Francis Effect, Vatican, gay, liberal, conservative, Catholics, openness, homosexuality, welcome
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 08:00 PM
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