The Free Press, Mankato, MN


September 22, 2013


WHY IT MATTERS: The pope's desire to move from single issue politics to overall mission should give us all pause to reflect on our purpose.

In today’s seemingly irreconcilable world of polarity, divisiveness and deaf ears, a powerful leader has said enough.

Will we listen?

Over the raucous screeching of talk show hosts, in a moment that drowns out singularly-focused, lock-step legislators and smothering the self-righteous din of coffee klatches where over simplicity solves complex social problems, a rational voice says stop.

In an admonition from which we all could learn, Pope Francis this week said the Catholic Church had become so focused on digging in its heels on social issues it was overshadowing its mission which could bring down the church “like a house of cards.”

In the first extensive interview since becoming pope, Francis told a group of Jesuit journals that while he embraces traditional church teachings, he’s “not a right-winger.”

“This church … is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people,” he said. “We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity.”

The pope’s message comes amid rumblings within some Catholic advocacy groups and bishops who have noticed his unwillingness to talk about abortion or gay marriage. Bishop Thomas Tobin of Rhode Island reportedly told his diocesan newspaper that he was “a little bit disappointed in Pope Francis” for not speaking out on abortion.

The pope has answered saying in essence we’re bigger than that. Our mission, our duty is bigger than single divisive issues. He said the first thing the church needs is an adjustment of “attitude.”

The interview follows a comment that produced headlines on homosexuality when he said “who am I to judge.” In the most recent interview, Francis went further in his thinking saying “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Spear smile.jpg Spear column: Hoffner case tested first and right rules

    The biggest news stories carry the biggest risk

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SCC leads the way on work ed The importance of higher education has never been more pronounced than with the changes occurring in our economy, especially in manufacturing. Bloomberg News noted that manufacturing accounts for 80 percent of our exports and for every one high-tech

    April 20, 2014

  • Our View: Y helps kids with skatepark Thumbs up to the YMCA and supporters working quickly to open an interim roller sport park. When fire destroyed Chesley Roller Sports Park in February, the Y made the commitment to rebuild it this summer and fall. But the Y also moved to give skateboa

    April 19, 2014

  • Our View: Make course evaluations public There's been a considerable and legitimate debate over the years about whether students at a public university should have access to teacher and course evaluations. Whenever there is a legitimate debate, it's hard to be in favor of less information a

    April 18, 2014

  • Our View: Drawing the line after Ukraine Why it matters: Tensions are ramping up once more as Russia tries to dictate to Ukraine.

    April 17, 2014

  • Our View: Costs key in health care access While more uninsured got coverage, costs must be controlled to sustain programs

    April 16, 2014

  • Our View: Saving lives trumps booking drug users Changes to the drug laws would save lives of those who overdose

    April 15, 2014

  • Pay attention! Distraction a problem A few years ago safety experts focused heavily on the dangers of people talking on cellphones while driving. Some states passed laws prohibiting the use of hand-held phones in cars as a result. Today much attention is on motorists typing on tiny hand

    April 14, 2014

  • DEBATE MEDICAL MARIJUANA When Minnesota lawmakers return from their spring break, one of the issues they may face is medical marijuana. This has been kicked around too many times. We feel it deserves to be pushed from committee and debated on the floor. The issue has been tr

    April 13, 2014

  • Our View: Cities saved on garbage collection Mankato and North Mankato saved their taxpayers money by bidding on garbage service

    April 12, 2014