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Pope Francis Raises Concerns Over ‘Reactionary Politicised’ Trends in US Catholic Church, Advocates Prioritizing Faith

In a candid statement that reverberated through the global Catholic community, Pope Francis lamented what he termed a “reactionary” trend within the Catholic Church in the United States, expressing concern that political ideologies are superseding faith in certain instances. 

The Pope’s remarks, made during a private meeting with members of the Jesuit order in Lisbon on August 5th, were published on Monday by the Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica.

Over the course of his ten-year papacy, Pope Francis has been the subject of criticism from conservative factions within the U.S. Church. These critics have voiced opposition to his proposed reforms, which include expanded roles for women and lay Catholics, as well as a push to foster a more inclusive and nonjudgmental Church environment, particularly towards marginalized groups such as the LGBT community. The Pope’s recent comments underscored his concern over the extent to which political ideologies are influencing the Church’s core values and principles.

During the intimate question-and-answer session with a Portuguese Jesuit, it was revealed that the Pope’s leadership has faced hostility from a number of Catholics, including certain bishops, during their sabbatical experiences in the United States. The Pope acknowledged this trend, stating, “You have seen that in the United States the situation is not easy: there is a very strong reactionary attitude. It is organized and shapes the way people belong, even emotionally.”

The Pope’s remarks shed light on the dynamic between religious conservatism and political conservatism in the United States. Throughout his papacy, Pope Francis has been a vocal advocate for social justice, environmental stewardship, and immigration reform. These stances have occasionally placed him in direct opposition to certain conservative media outlets and political factions, who have criticized the Pope for his views on topics ranging from climate change and immigration to gun control and the death penalty.

In his response, Pope Francis emphasized that some believers in the U.S. Church have drifted away from the core tenets of their faith in favor of rigid ideologies. He stated, “And there, one can lose the true tradition and turn to ideologies for support. In other words, ideology replaces faith, membership in a sector of the Church replaces membership in the Church.”

The Pope sought to remind his critics that the evolution of the understanding of matters of faith and morals is both natural and necessary. He cited the example of the Church’s past tolerance of slavery, noting that even popes from centuries ago had beliefs that evolved over time. He urged the Church to embrace growth and change, stating that clinging to outdated views is “useless.”

The timing of the Pope’s remarks is notable, given the upcoming meeting of bishops called by Pope Francis for October. The gathering aims to shape the future trajectory of the Church. However, one of the Pope’s staunchest critics, Cardinal Raymond Burke, raised concerns about the meeting potentially causing “confusion and error and division.” 

This sentiment underscores the ongoing divisions within the Church and the challenges Pope Francis faces in steering it towards a more progressive and inclusive path.

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