Pope Francis made some official Roman Catholic Church statements today that are gaining a lot of attention from those outside of Catholicism as well.
According to The New York Times, Pope Francis' proclamation entitled "The Joy of Life" gives a far more progressive view of Church doctrine and Jesus' mercy than that of predecessors like Pope John Paul II.
While not condoning same-sex unions and gay marriage, Pope Francis appeared to still offer a welcoming hand to gay couples as well as divorced heterosexual couples and couples living together outside of marriage.
In words directed as priests, Pope Francis wrote, “A pastor cannot feel that it is enough to simply apply moral laws to those living in ‘irregular’ situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives."
He added that, “Every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, while ‘every sign of unjust discrimination’ is to be carefully avoided," but he did make it clear that "there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family."
He called on priests to deal with issues amidst their flock on more of a case-by-case basis, relying on conscience rather than simply judging people's actions based on church rules.
According to the Associated Press, Archbishop of Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn commented at a Vatican press conference that "[Pope Francis' proclamation is] the classic case of an organic development of doctrine. There is innovation and continuity. There are true novelties in this document, but no ruptures."
While vague in many of its declarations, conservative Catholics and conservatives outside the Catholic Church may wonder if Pope Francis' statements continue to create a slippery slope toward more progressive agendas.