Pope Francis was recently interviewed about social issues in the world, and Catholic students at Concordia are praising his proactive comments regarding homosexuality, contraceptive methods and abortion.

In Pope Francis’ most recent interview, he encouraged Catholics to focus on all issues of the world, not only the three mentioned above. He also emphasized the need to fix your own moral issues before fixing others’.

According to Concordia sophomore Madison Lindquist, Pope Francis is sparking proactive conversations about Catholicism and the mission of the Church in general.

“Pope Francis has been huge in understanding how to get along outside of the faith as well as inside,” she said. “He brings up a very good point. A lot of Catholics try to focus on these three issues, but we have to remember that we ourselves aren’t perfect.”

According to BBC News, there are an estimated 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world. And according to Concordia Religion Professor Dr. Michelle Lelwica, Concordia’s religious makeup is about 25 percent Catholic.

The Pope’s interview is 12,000 words long and addresses a variety of topics, but according to The New York Times, the Pope’s most noted quote is:

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible…. when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context… it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”

Pope Francis is a Jesuit: a Catholic order that focuses on the spiritual gift of discernment and searching your soul to hear what God is saying, according to Lelwica. Pope Francis in particular is stressing fixing yourself before fixing the issues of the world.

“He takes the time to let everyone know he’s a sinner, not a holier than thou persona,”  Lelwica said. Nowhere in this interview does he back away from the teachings, but it’s great that he’s helping people understand the church’s need to focus on multiple issues.”

Sophomore Patrick McGuire appreciates the Pope’s admittance of the need to fix your own issues before addressing others’.

“It’s not our job to completely define moral code for the world, because not everyone is Catholic. We have our own problems to fix before we go off and get on other peoples’ cases. I think that is what the Pope is saying,” McGuire said.

Some social equality groups are taking the Pope’s words and using them as a metaphorical banner for their causes, according to Advocate.com.

In an article posted on the site from Sept. 19, it states that “Pope Francis today said the church should not interfere in the lives of gay and lesbian people.”

This reflects a popular reaction to the Pope’s comments, according to sophomore Ryan Modahl, and those who are holding their breath for a drastic change in Catholic teachings will be disappointed.

“Pope Francis is revolutionizing the way non-Catholics see the Catholic church. I think his comments are proactive, but the church itself isn’t changing. Others just know where we’re coming from now,” Modahl said.

Modahl admits that the Catholic church is not the most well-liked establishment in the world and agrees with how Pope Francis is representing the church.

“I think he is what the Catholic church needs right now. He’s not changing anything, but he’s representing us as a church of love, and I hope more people can see that now,” Modahl said.

Lelwica thinks Pope Francis is a very personable Pope. He has a greater sense of openness, he is less judgmental and he is making the mission of the Catholic church broader for those who do not know much about the church’s mission.

In the past the Catholic view on certain issues such as homosexuality has been a main focus of the media, according to Lelwica.

“The agenda has always been broad, but certain church leaders have chosen to emphasize church teachings on sexuality as if they were the most important, and the media picks up on that and sensationalizes that,” Lelwica said.

McGuire admits that the Catholic church is not perfect, and he is happy to see main issues being brought to light.

“We’re not supposed to focus so much on what we don’t believe in, but what we are supportive of,” McGuire said. “The church as a whole has this disunity problem because we’re more interested in talking about what we disagree with rather than what we support.”

Karen Besonen

Karen Besonen is a senior Multimedia Journalism major, originally from Apple Valley, Minnesota. She is an enthusiast of music, along with keeping a personal blog and following the action on Capital Hill. She has a passion for traveling and philanthropic work, and with her degree, she hopes to work for a Christian nonprofit that fights the trafficking and exploitation of children.

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