An article at ThinkProgress illustrates how dissenters from Church teaching on abortion, homosexual marriage and contraception, are attempting to use Pope Francis as a shield and club against Catholic clerics who have the temerity to stand up for Catholic teaching in these areas:
When Gino Gresh, high school senior at Sacred Heart Cathedral Catholic school in San Francisco, California, returned home from a religious retreat in early February, he said he was “shocked” to learn what had happened while he was away: Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, head of the San Francisco archdiocese and key organizer behind California’s short-lived same-sex marriage ban known as Proposition 8, had unveiled a new handbook for Catholic high school employees in Gresh’s area, instructing them to refrain from “visibly” contradicting the Church’s teachings on birth control, abortion, and homosexuality.
Worse, Cordileone was vying to designate teachers as “ministers” so the archdiocese could benefit from the so-called “ministerial exception,” a legal category expanded by a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court case that exempts religious groups from non-discrimination laws when hiring for “ministry” positions that can include people who are not clergy.
In other words, teachers could be fired for, among other things, being publicly gay — in San Francisco.
“I remember sitting in class with a couple of students and saying ‘we need to do something,’” Gresh told ThinkProgress.
Indeed, while few question the authority of the Archbishop’s position within the Catholic hierarchy, McGarry’s faith-based embrace of homosexuality is a reminder that, despite conservative claims to the immutability of Catholic teaching, huge swaths of Catholic theology are essentially contested spaces, not forgone conclusions. After Pope Francis famously answered a question about gay priests in 2014 with the quip “Who am I to judge?”, the secretary-general of the Italian bishops’ conference praised the pontiff and asked the Italian church to “listen without any taboo to the arguments in favor of … homosexuality.” Francis has also already convened one of two synods to discuss homosexuality and other “family issues,” and closer to home at Santa Clara University, a Catholic liberal arts college in the Bay Area, Jesuit priest Paul Crowley reportedly leads courses exploring more inclusive spiritual understandings of homosexuality. In 2004, he published an academic article in which he concluded that homosexuality shouldn’t be a “problem” for the church, but rather “an invitation to a different way of looking at things, and toward a deeper embrace of the very gospel that threatens to subvert our most cherished notions about the God whose name is Love.”
Vatican officials, of course, eventually asked Crowley to publish a clarification more in line with established church teaching, and Francis has not changed Catholic doctrine on LGBT issues — or anything, really — since assuming the papacy. But the first Argentinian pope has clearly sought to minimize exactly the kind of culture war that Cordileone is waging, and has appointed more moderate bishops to replace retiring clerics famous for crusading against abortion and LGBT rights. Taken together, progressive Catholics in San Francisco and elsewhere see an ally in Francis’ rhetoric, if nothing else, and now that Catholics are more supportive of same-sex marriage than any other major religious group in America (an opinion echoed in several countries with large Catholic populations), San Franciscans are forcing the issue as to whether a bishop can risk ignoring Francis’ rhetorical shift without hemorrhaging parishioners.
Go here to read the rest. The main occurrence that historians may note about the current pontificate is that during it the de facto schism of the Catholic Church became de jure. PopeWatch fears that the Church is coming to a parting of the ways with Catholics going down divergent paths, and few at the Vatican seem to have the wit to grasp this.