Pope Francis decries church's 'rigid ideological positions'

Days after approving blessings of same-sex couples, Pope Francis has warned against ideological inflexibility in the Catholic Church he leads

Over the past decade, Pope Francis has shown more tolerance towards the LGBTQ+ community, despite maintaining traditional church teachings on homosexuality. (photo: DW)
Over the past decade, Pope Francis has shown more tolerance towards the LGBTQ+ community, despite maintaining traditional church teachings on homosexuality. (photo: DW)
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Pope Francis on Thursday, 21 December told members of the Vatican's central administration that holding views that remain too rigid could be an obstacle to perceiving reality and moving forward.

His comments came just days after he angered many church conservatives by issuing a declaration allowing blessings of same-sex couples.

That approval went against a 2021 policy by the Vatican's doctrine office, which forbade such blessings because God "does not and cannot bless sin."

Francis didn't specifically mention his decision in his comments on Thursday.

What did Francis say?

During his traditional Christmas greetings to members of the Curia, Francis said, "Let us remain vigilant against rigid ideological positions that often, under the guise of good intentions, separate us from reality and prevent us from moving forward."

"We are called, instead, to set out and journey, like the magi, following the light that always desires to lead us on, at times along unexplored paths and new roads," he said. 

"The Christian faith — let us remember — is not meant to confirm our sense of security, to let us settle into comfortable religious certitudes, and to offer us quick answers to life's complex problems," he added.

The annual greeting is a high-profile event to which all cardinals based in Rome are invited.

Moves toward more tolerance

Since becoming pontiff 10 years ago, Francis, who turned 87 on Sunday, 17 November, has made some steps toward more inclusivity in the Catholic Church, notably by expressing more tolerance of the LGBTI+ community than has previously been shown.

However, he has tried to do so without making any actual changes to the church's moral teachings; in his declaration on Monday, 18 December he made it clear that the blessing given by priests to same-sex couples must not make the impression of a wedding ceremony.

The Vatican holds that homosexual relations are "intrinsically disordered," while saying that gay people must nonetheless be treated with dignity and respect.  

Conservatives and traditionalists have slammed Monday's declaration as going against biblical teachings about homosexuality.

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