Pope Francis continues to amaze. He married 20 couples on Sunday in Rome several of them “living in sin” having had children outside marriage.
"The people getting married on Sunday are couples like many others," the diocese of Rome said in a statement. "Some already live together, some already have children."
The Pope said marriage was “real life, not some TV show.”
In marrying them he he kicked away one of the bulwark beliefs of the sex-obsessed hierarchy in the old church, the belief that sex outside marriage was a heinous and immoral act.
All of us Irish Catholics grew up with that unfortunate characterization of those who did not conform to the absolute orthodoxy of only having sex and children within marriage.
All others were fallen sinners. This led to some mighty hypocrisy on all sides as fallen men and women were considered far below the virtuous few – most of whom on closer scrutiny were not such virtuous souls.
The scandal around the unfortunate Bishop Eamon Casey, when it was revealed he had a child, was subsequently utterly dwarfed by the pedophile crisis that hit the church in Ireland like a hurricane.
It seems likely that contraception could be next. Francis is nothing but a realist, and over 90 percent of Catholic couples use contraception.
Francis is trying to make the church more inclusive, to absorb those who have been driven away by right wing ideology bordering on the dictatorial.
Old line conservatives like Cardinal Raymond Burke from St,Louis, once a powerful figure in the Vatican who Francis replaced in the Congregation for Bishops, had held fast to the old teachings. .
Their day is done under this new pope.The words of his 2013 September interview make that clear.
It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,” Francis said. “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods.
“The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines."
In that same interview Francis cast himself as first and foremost a sinner. It was a remarkable statement, but his papacy is infused with it. We are all sinners, weak, sometimes immoral he says, but we can find our way back to God if we seek to do so. 'Judge not, lest you be judged.'
One can only imagine the privileged conservative old guard choking on their fine Italian wine as they hear this latest pronouncement.