The Pope’s shocking revelations aren’t really news

Francis says the church shouldn’t focus on ’small-minded rules’
(Enric Marti/AP)

“The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.”—Pope Francis

Just like that, #coolpope was a thing. Francis, the pontiff since March 13, told the world yesterday that, put more bluntly than the words he chose, he wasn’t going to waste a lot of time lecturing his followers on gay marriage, abortion and condoms. Much applause ensued on social media. Francis’ apparent willingness to live and let live, on issues so untouchable for Vatican hardliners, isn’t a total surprise. He hinted at his liberal tendencies during a candid talk with reporters in August. “If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, well who am I to judge them?” Words many appreciated, but which only spawned more questions.

Now, any doubt about Francis’ priorities is now laid bare. Yesterday, in the 12,000-word interview published in the Italian Jesuit magazine La Civilta Cattolica, Francis said the church “sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules.” #coolpope confirmed. The National Post wonders how those comments, no doubt eye-popping to some, will reverberate in the United States. American bishops, the Post writes, “have already publicly voiced dismay that Francis hasn’t hammered home church teaching on abortion, contraception and homosexuality—areas of the culture wars where U.S. bishops often put themselves on the front lines.”

Whether or not disgruntled bishops have their voices heard, what’s most striking about the news is how little attention newspapers paid Francis’ comments, and any possible backlash, or even any applause from your average practicing Catholic. Only the Post fronted the news. The Globe and Mail ran its story just on the inside, and the Toronto Star buried an item in its world pages. Perhaps that’s because the things Francis said, as shocking as they may be for whatever critics emerge, are so widely accepted in Canada.

Maybe when the Pope admits that the Church doesn’t have to admonish people for being gay or getting abortions or using condoms, it just isn’t news anymore.


What’s above the fold

The Globe and MailThe federal government has improved relations with Palestinian leaders.
National PostA B.C. First Nation is hoping to open a private hospital on its land.
Toronto StarInspectors found listeria at an illegal daycare in Vaughan, Ont.
Ottawa CitizenThe six dead from Ottawa’s bus-train collision are identified.
CBC NewsBlack-box data from the totalled Ottawa bus may be unreliable.
CTV News New Zealand police may have found one of two missing Canadians.
National Newswatch Verizon’s interest in the Canadian market was substantial.

What you might have missed

THE NATIONALJustice. The Supreme Court ruled that Pierino Divito, a Canadian who served a U.S. prison sentence on drug charges and regained his freedom earlier this year, had no right to be transferred to a Canadian facility during his time behind bars. Divito had argued that, since the U.S. consented to a transfer, it should have gone ahead. The Supreme Court disagreed.
THE GLOBALGay rights. Thailand’s Parliament has drafted a bill that would allow gays and lesbians who are 20 years old to obtain many of the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples, though they won’t be able to apply for adoption automatically. Legislators will now gather 10,000 signatures on a petition, a requirement of the Thai constitution.
THE QUIRKYBilingualism. Coca-Cola is cancelling a campaign that saw the company print words underneath its bottle caps that, it says, consumers were supposed to string together into funny sentences. However, a number of innocuous French words—retard (“late”) and douche (“shower”)—appeared underneath the caps, angering some Anglophones.