Monday, September 21, 2015

bedroom issues far more crucial than christianity to conservative catholics


WaPo |  When Steve Skojec heard that Jorge Mario Bergoglio had been elected pope, he got a queasy feeling in the pit of his stomach. He can’t say why, exactly — though he follows Vatican politics closely, he didn’t know much about Francis then. But as he watched the new Catholic leader greet the crowds on his office television in Manassas, Va., he was filled with dread.

“I felt a discontinuity,” he said. “A disruption.”

At first, he didn’t want to make too big a deal of it. Though Skojec blogs regularly about Catholicism at the Web site he founded, OnePeterFive (tag line: Rebuilding Catholic culture. Restoring Catholic tradition.), he mostly avoided the subject. “I wanted to withhold judgement,” he said.

Six months later, he was ready to judge. What really turned Skojec against Francis was the pope’s October 2013 interview in the Jesuit magazine America. Buried in the transcript was a comment, by Francis, that the world’s biggest evils are youth unemployment and loneliness.

“That’s a jarring statement . . . when you’re on the front lines of the culture wars, looking at the death toll of abortion,” Skojec said. “There was definitely a sense that this could be trouble.”

Among Americans Catholics, Francis is wildly popular, with an approval rating hovering near 90 percent. The faithful are drawn by the pope’s humility and inclusive message. But a growing number in the church’s conservative wing don’t feel so welcome. Just 45 percent of conservative Catholics have a favorable opinion of Francis, down from 72 percent a year ago.

They worry that Francis is loosening the church’s strict teachings on morality (he famously told a prominent Italian atheist that “everyone has his own idea of good and evil” and has said “who am I to judge” when asked about gay priests). They accuse him of deserting them on issues such as abortion and contraception (he has said he avoids those issues because the church has become too “obsessed” with them).

And they say his attacks on capitalism are ill-conceived and amount to a plea for redistribution of wealth — or worse.