The Kinder, Gentler Pope is certainly getting some good press lately – John Stewart was drooling over him and mainstream media seems to see him as the big bridge between religion and modernism. I hope so, but I think we need to listen carefully to what he is saying.
On the positive side, I think he is legitimately conceding that Catholic doctrine on homosexuality, contraception, sexuality is hopelessly out of date (and wrong). I think this is very welcomed and I am interested in how he will square this concession to the “infallibility of past doctrine” that the church has long upheld.
I am more nervous about the degree to which he wants to take all of these social issues off the table. He has said that too much time is spent debating a small minority of the church’s positions and beliefs and this causes the church to be misconstrued. I really hope that this is not a PR end run to look soft on these issues to get them off the agenda and then allow the church to go back to hatred as usual.