Opinion: Don’t be fooled, Pope Francis is not progressive

The pope has condemned the "atrocities" revealed in a sweeping grand jury report into US clerical child sex abuse. Source: AAP

What are Pope Francis' stated views on abortion, homosexuality and trans rights? And what do his followers make of him?

Pope Francis is widely peddled as the ‘progressive’ pope, but his comments on Sunday regarding abortion prove the papacy is clutching onto its centuries-old conservatism.

The 81-year-old described abortion as the ‘white glove’ equivalent to Nazi eugenics and part of today’s “throw-away” culture, criticising parents who chose to terminate a pregnancy if the foetus is malformed.

Sure, you can celebrate the pope for writing into his Encyclical that climate change is “mainly a result of human activity”, but a few encouraging words don’t make him an untouchable.

The pope is spouting the same traditionalist messages that the Church has been serving up for centuries. The difference is, this Pope knows better than any who have come before him how to package Catholic conservatism with 21st century sensitivities.

The Pope’s views on homosexuality

This year the pope told Juan Carlos Cruz, a gay man and the leading whistle-blower in Chile’s clerical sex abuse case that “God made you like this and he loves you”.  When asked about ‘homosexuals’ he also said “If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge?”. This comment alone amassed international praise.

Quotes like this have been great for the Catholic Church, giving the impression that the institution has dusted off some of its antiquated views and opened its arms up to the LGBT community.

But when you strip away the feel-good sentiment of Pope Francis’ message, the Pope’s ideas about homosexuality are in line with Catechism 2359 that “homosexual persons are called to chastity”. In the church’s eyes, ‘accepting the Lord’ for gays means remaining celibate and unable to marry someone of the same sex.

The pope’s “hate the sin, not the sinner” concept has been ripped right out of the Catechism. It’s not a radical or new idea, and he’s not “progressive” for suggesting gay people be accepted into the church if they alter themselves to fit.

The Pope’s views on trans rights

When visiting Poland in 2016, the Pope lamented to a group of bishops “today, in schools they are teaching this to children – to children! That everyone can choose their gender.”

The idea of being transgender, he concluded, is “a moment of annihilation of man as image of God.”  A fan of false equivalencies, the pope has also compared gender theory to nuclear war and genetic manipulation in Andrea Tornielli and Giacomo Galeazzi's  Pope Francis: This Economy Kills.

The Pope’s views on abortion

Prior to his recent announcement that abortion is akin to Nazi eugenics, Pope Francis has called abortion “murder”.

Catholics believe life starts at the time of conception. It’s a belief that scientists have denounced repeatedly. As Dr Richard Paulson, a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at USC writes “the multicellular pre-implantation embryo cannot be equated with a human being. It is a collection of stem cells… but it is not itself a new human life.”

The pope’s views on abortion are just as by-the-book as the last Pope, Pope Benedict XVI. He’s not breaking with the norms of the Catholic Church, and whether you believe that’s right or wrong, you’d be naïve to call his popedom ‘ground-breaking’.

What do Americans make of Pope Francis?

The Pope’s fresh image has attracted a wave of support for the Catholic Church. More than 80% of American Catholics and 62% of American adults in general, view Francis favourably; which is considerably higher than his predecessor, according to research by Pew.

The media sensationalism that labels the Pope as “progressive” is misleading. So please, don’t pat him on the back for being revolutionary when his views on abortion, euthanasia and homosexuality so clearly prove that he’s married to the old guard.

Eden Gillespie is a freelance contributor to The Feed.