Pope Francis recent pronouncements on contraception, marriage and the family has rattled the more conservative folks in our Roman Catholic Church. He hasn’t changed doctrine but he seems to have stretched the envelope quite a bit.

Take for example his comment that “contraception is the least evil” when referring to the Zika virus infecting South American countries and now making its way into the southern U.S. The mosquito borne virus appears to infect children in the womb and they are born with a small head which affects their cognitive ability. At least that’s what seems to be coming out of the studies so far. In truth, the evidence is anecdotal but the medical community is pretty sure it’s Zika that’s the cause. So, does the Pope’s comment mean that it’s OK for people living in those countries to use contraceptives when having sex? The Church says contraceptives are a no, no, but the Pope says it’s the lesser evil when facing the risk of contracting the Zika virus. Or is this another of those “let your conscience be your guide” things.

And how about his comments on marriage and the family Amoris Laetitia, the Joy of Love. It seems he is leaving it up to bishops and priests to judge individual cases of divorced Catholics to participate fully in the life of the Church. So does that mean in some cases Catholics who divorced and remarried outside the church, or living common law or even in same sex relationships may be allowed, in some form, to participate in the life of the Church. He made clear however, that same sex marriages remain verboten but…….

Theologians, biblical scholars, learned writers on matters of religion and even some who have no clue what they’re talking about are all weighing in with varying definitions of what this all means to us lay people. What is obvious is that it all fits with the Pope’s philosophy of let’s not get hung up on the rules but have more mercy and compassion. Still?

Maybe we should have our Theologian Brett Salkeld weigh in on this.

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