Pope Francis on abortion, gays and same-sex marriage in the context of Catholic social teaching

Some commentators who have hailed Pope Francis' supposed rejection on the church's "pre-occupation with doctrine," (i.e. abortion, gays, same-sex marriage)  have revealed a deep and troubling ignorance or misunderstanding of Catholic social teachings.

The church always has been welcoming of all people, following Christ's example of

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

hanging out with sinners and speaking out for the poor. The church has long distinguished between the sin and the sinner. It has never turned away sinners, but welcomed them as the father did in Christ's parable of the prodigal son.

Clearly, it's time for a review of Catholic social teachings, the things that the American bishops have frequently emphasized but has been generally ignored by the media and those who wallow in their anti-Catholicism and their hatred of Christianity and religious faith in general.

As the U.S. Conference of Bishops states:

Catholic social teaching is a central and essential element of our faith. Its roots are in the Hebrew prophets who announced God's special love for the poor and called God's people to a covenant of love and justice. It is a teaching founded on the life and words of Jesus Christ, who came "to bring glad tidings to the poor . . . liberty to captives . . . recovery of sight to the blind"(Lk 4:18-19), and who identified himself with "the least of these," the hungry and the stranger (cf. Mt 25:45). Catholic social teaching is built on a commitment to the poor. This commitment arises from our experiences of Christ in the eucharist.

You can read the "seven themes of Catholic social teaching" here. They include emphasis  on care of the poor and vulnerable, the dignity of work and the rights of Workers, and the care of God's creation.

Contrary to the public commentary, the pope's comments were not a rebuke of bishops or laity that value human life, the sanctity of marriage and the teachings on sexuality. They have been welcomed by both conservative and liberal Catholics.

For further, thoughtful consideration of the Pope's statement, visit Jim Bowman's blog, Blithe Spirit, where you'll find intelligent discussion by the likes of Martin Marty.

Read the transcript of the Pope Francis interview in America magazine here.


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  • Then we can agree that the social teachings of the Church condemn the Republican vote to cut food stamps.

  • How do you figure that? Do the social teachings say that we must accept everything in the Democratic platform, that there is only one way to address hunger?

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    In this case the "Democratic platform" is morally right.
    The way to address hunger is absolutely NOT to deny the hungry food.

  • Dennis ~ You and Jim have a lot of good things to say about this... seems to me Francis is suggesting doctrine does not have to change but rather its deployment...revealing him as the parish-priest he still is...the three of us won't be here to see it, but in time he may inch the church toward becoming the "field hospital" Jesus seemed to describe...in the same way some synagogues are finally becoming after years of Holocaust obsession

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