CV NEWS FEED // Pope Francis addressed a range of topics during a Q&A with Portuguese Jesuits recently, talking about pornography and the importance of prayer, and calling the American Church “reactionary”.
During his travels to Lisbon, Portugal, for World Youth Day 2023, Pope Francis made time to visit with members of the local Jesuit province. The Jesuit news source La Civilta Cattholica published the transcript of this meeting on August 28.
To answer a question concerning the world’s sexualized nature, Pope Francis talked about the prevalence of pornography and the continued call to practice ‘holy chastity’.
“When I was a novice, they used to talk to us about chastity, holy chastity. They used to ask us not to look at pictures that were a little bit racy. I mean, those were other times, times when the problems were not so acute and, moreover, they were hidden. Today, thank God, the door is wide open, and there is no reason for problems to remain hidden. If you hide your problems, it is because you choose to do so, but it is not the fault of society,” said Pope Francis.
Yet when the topic of chastity resurfaced later in the conversation after a young Jesuit asked Pope Francis how to minister to people with homosexual tendencies, the Pope was hesitant to reiterate that common call to chastity, reiterating instead that the Church welcomes everyone.
“The door is open to everyone; everyone has their own space in the church. How will each person live it out? We help people live so that they can occupy that place with maturity, and this applies to all kinds of people,” said Pope Francis. “It is clear that today the issue of homosexuality is very strong, and the sensitivity in this regard changes according to historical circumstances. But what I don’t like at all, in general, is that we look at the so-called “sin of the flesh” with a magnifying glass.”
One young Jesuit told the Holy Father how he frequently heard American bishops and Catholics complaining about the Pope during his sabbatical year in the US. The Pope responded by calling the American Church “reactionary.”
“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,” said Pope Francis. “You say you have felt a climate of closure. Yes, this climate can be experienced in some situations. And there you can lose the true tradition and turn to ideologies for support. In other words, ideology replaces faith, and membership in a sector of the Church replaces membership in the Church.”
Some Catholic media outlets celebrated Pope Francis’ message about the American Church being “reactionary”. The National Catholic Reporter reacted to the statement by running an article under the headline “Pope Francis blasts reactionary American Catholics who oppose church reform.”
Jesuit priest and editor at large of America Magazine, Fr. James Martin, tweeted a link to the transcript and quoted the Pope’s comments on the homosexual community and transgender community, as well as the Pope’s quote calling the American church “reactionary”.
A common theme that the Pope reiterated in his answers was the importance of prayer and relying on St. Ignatius’ popular examen. The pope reminded the Jesuits that without a prayer life, everything else is worthless.
“With prayer the Jesuit goes forward, afraid of nothing, because he knows that the Lord will inspire him in due time as to what he must do. When a Jesuit does not pray, he becomes a desiccated Jesuit,” said Pope Francis.
Pope Francis has made it a tradition to visit with local Jesuits when he travels out of the country. Often, these are closed-door sessions when the Pope candidly addresses pressing issues facing the Church and the world.