In March, Pope Francis chose to wash the feet of 12 inmates at a juvenile detention facility in Rome, including 2 women. This outraged many traditional Catholics because they felt the Holy Thursday ritual of washing and kissing feet should be done to men, in accordance with Jesus washing the feet of the 12 Apostles.
His latest comments have come as a surprise to traditional Catholics yet again. On a plane ride back from his first foreign papal trip to Brazil, Pope Francis made remarks about the sexual orientation of priests within the Catholic Church. He said: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
This is certainly a different tone compared to that of the previous Pope, Benedict XVI, who spoke about homosexuality as an “instrinsic moral evil.”
Rachel Donadio of the New York Times writes that a big reason Pope Francis has been in the news for his washing of women’s feet and comments on homosexuality is that the Catholic Church is making it a point to stay “vibrant and relevant” to issues facing Catholics today. In the past, Pope’s have been more outspoken, quiet, and dismissive in response to controversial issues facing the Catholic Church such as the role of women in the Church and homosexuality.
But Pope Francis is clearly not going to shy away. It will be interesting to see what controversial issue the Pope speaks about next.
You can read Rachel Donadio’s full article for the New York Times here.