He’s pro- LGBT, accepting of divorce, and holds a host of other progressive stances. This obviously doesn’t sit well with most traditional Catholics, or even non-Catholic conservatives. Many of them cannot understand why the pope would break so decisively with so many traditional viewpoints.
However, if you look at the current state of the world and consider what would happen if he didn’t take these positions, then the pope’s actions start to make a lot more sense.
Indeed, rather than thinking of Francis as the messenger and protector of some inviolable word of God, it helps to picture him as more of a celestial salesman selling God to the masses. In that light, he’s using the same playbook the church has employed for 2,000 years in order to make God palatable to society. And in said playbook there are several rules that must be obeyed.
By far the most important rule for selling God is…
The Church HAS to be mainstream. There’s just no other choice. If it strays too far from wider society, people are then forced to decide between being Christian and being accepted by the majority.
After all, the only real difference between a religion and a cult is the number of people who believe in it. Thus, God goes out of his way to be one of the popular kids.
In 2020 that means not frowning on divorce, embracing the gays, fighting against climate change, and even condoning condom use in certain cases. The church doesn’t have a choice but to take those positions. Non-religious organizations that oppose those things are labeled as hate groups and there's just no way that God can be associated with a hate group in the public eye.
So, as certain positions become mainstream amongst the majority, the church changes its dogma in order to keep up. As such, being pro-life will remain a possibility for the church only as long as that position remains popular in society. However, should that change, then the church would have to rethink its policy. Although, that’s never been a big problem for the church because…
He did it about evolution, he did it about whether the Sun orbits the Earth, and he did it when he decided that it was possible to get into heaven if you paid money to the church. It’s only a matter of time until he changes his mind about whether married men can become clergy again (God didn’t mind if priests were celibate until the 12th century), or if abortion is really that bad.
Indeed, ever the people-pleaser, God changes his mind whenever his views don’t conform with scientific evidence or even if they just become too unpopular. Again, it goes back to the church having to remain part of the majority in society. God knows that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
Some people really dislike the idea of God changing his mind. They think that the Pope should be a purist and stick to tradition rather than putting words in God’s mouth. However, these people are overlooking the dirty little secret about God’s word…
It’s the church’s, going all the way back to the First Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. Back then, there were a lot of religious texts floating around as well as a lot of conflicting dogma. So all the church leaders got together, formed an editorial board, and decided what content was going to be in the Bible and what wasn’t. The biggest issue under discussion was whether Jesus was actually a divine being. And even then, they were unable to achieve a formal consensus.
So, from the very beginning, the church’s official position on God’s word is that it’s up for debate.
While that might not do too much for believability, it’s been great for longevity by giving the church the ability to adapt to changing times and stay relevant. At the end of the day, the goal is to get as many people on board as possible. So, as society changes, God’s official opinion of it will too.
It’s just a matter of time. Currently, the worldwide pro-life movement is big enough for the church to retain that position. However, that fact is rapidly changing.
Nearly all polls show that support for abortion has risen slowly but steadily since most polling began in the 1970's. Most of that is due to the way in which society now increasingly views “pro-life” to mean “anti-woman”, especially amongst younger generations. While views on abortion have been changing much more slowly than about other, less controversial, subjects, it’s hard to imagine that within 20 years there will not be a clear majority.
Thus, like divorce, homosexuality, and condom use before it, the time will come where the church will have to decide between holding a scandalous, unpopular belief, or simply changing its tune.
The decision will be a no brainer for them, especially considering that the church has never been in the business of holding consistent beliefs. Rather, time and again, it has shown that its business model requires it to continuously sell its soul in order to remain relevant.
Do you think the Church can stay pro-life until the end of this century?