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Pope Francis meets with Jesuits in Lisbon during WYD 2023 (Vatican Media)

Pope Francis blasted what he described as groups of “very strong, reactionary” American Catholics, warning against becoming “backwardists” who oppose change in the Church. Source: NCR Online. 

“The situation in the United States is not easy: There is a very strong, reactionary attitude. It is organised and shapes the way people belong, even emotionally,” said the Pope. “I want to remind these people that backwardism is useless, and it is necessary to understand that there is a correct evolution in the understanding of questions of faith and morals.” 

The Pope’s comments came during an August 5 meeting with the Jesuits in Portugal during his visit to Lisbon for World Youth Day. His remarks were published by the Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica yesterday.

In responding to a question from a Portuguese Jesuit who said he had spent last year in the US, the Pope pointed to what he described as “concrete” examples of Church teaching evolving over time. 

“Today it is a sin to possess atomic bombs; the death penalty is a sin, it cannot can be practiced, and it was not so before,” he said. “As for slavery, some pontiffs before me have tolerated it, but things are different today.”

During his time in Portugal for World Youth Day, the Pope repeatedly preached a message that everyone has a home in the Catholic Church. 

When asked by a Jesuit who works with university students how this applies to gay students who are not living celibately but are still active in the Church, the Pope did not demur. 

“The door is open to everyone, everyone has their own space in the Church,” said Francis. 

“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,” said Francis. “If you exploited workers, if you lied or cheated, it didn’t matter, and instead relevant were the sins below the waist.” 


Pope Francis blasts reactionary American Catholics who oppose Church reform (By Christopher White, NCR Online)


Pope tells Jesuits inclusivity, doctrinal evolution, synodality are crucial to Church (Vatican News)