In a recent interview, Pope Francis shocked many by criticizing the churches “obsession” with social issues such as abortion and gay marriage.  Now before everyone goes running off to tell their token gay cousin about the most recent turn in the LGBT world, let’s take a second and evaluate what Pope Francis actually said.

While he articulated his views on the subject much clearer than his predecessors, and took a much bolder stance, this still should not have come as a surprise to many familiar with the Pope’s previous works. Pope Francis has always made social justice, caring for the poor and marginalized, his main focus, and that is exactly what his statements were really geared towards. Nothing he has said is changing the doctrine of the Catholic Church. I believe an article by the New York Time’s best explained this, rather, as a shift in the “tone” of the church. This is a tone that is less seemingly condemning in nature, and more concerned with social injustices.

In his interview, Pope Francis said, “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?” Again, this is not a radically different stance from the Vatican, as official church teaching is to be accepting of all people. So then what does this mean for the future?

One possibility is that many liberal and young Catholic’s are seeing this as an opportunity and invitation to renew their faith as this has been a point of contention for them. The flip side of this is that many conservative, right-wing Catholics feel that he is not addressing the social issues enough. Regardless of how you feel, it can’t be denied that Pope Francis is taking a bolder stance than his predecessors, working to build a Church that is far more inclusive and welcoming of all its members.

What do you think about the Pope’s interview? Do you think he took to hard a stance? Not strong enough? What do you think this means for the Church’s future?