WEEKLY NEWS: Pope Francis isn’t betraying Catholicism; he’s making it more relatable

Many conservative Catholics in America have started to feel betrayed by Pope Francis, according to The New York Times (“Conservative U.S. Catholics Feel Left Out of the Pope’s Embrace,” Nov. 9).

Francis has been trying to appeal to the broader world, and he has been successful in these attempts. In fact, he has even won the support of some atheists.

But his acceptance comes with a price. To gain approval, Francis has avoided taking a definite side on some of the more controversial issues of today, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, saying that “everyone has his own idea of good and evil.”

In response, many more conservative Catholics have decided that his standpoint is too indecisive.

They couldn’t be more wrong. Francis is trying to build a bridge between those with religious convictions and those without. He’s encouraging people to fight against “evil” in the way that they see fit. Isn’t that what religion is all about?

As a Catholic, I’ve experienced my fair share of reproof. There’s the annual Day of Condemnation, more commonly known as Ash Wednesday.

After attending morning Mass, I arrive at school with a smudge of ashes on my forehead only to be confronted with prolonged stares and ignorant questions. By the end of the day, at least half of the high school has either concernedly informed me that I have something on my face or bluntly asked, “What’s with the dirt?”

Granted, most of these comments are merely the product of inexperience, but there are a select few who take the sign of faith as a symbol of political views.

For those few, the questions about dirt are replaced with accusations concerning abortion or same-sex marriage. Instead of having to explain what Ash Wednesday is, I have to describe why being Catholic doesn’t necessarily mean that I accept all of the Church’s dictates. While many Catholics oppose gay marriage and abortion based on their beliefs, I support gay marriage and a woman’s right to her own body.

So is it really wrong that Pope Francis is trying to make Catholicism more relatable to everyone?

I can understand how those who use religion as a guide in their lives might dislike the less radical approach. But by minimizing the conflicts over religion, Francis is making it possible for people to “follow the good and fight the evil as (they conceive) them,” as he puts it.

That seems like a good outcome no matter how you look at it.

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