In a speech at the Vatican over the weekend, Pope Francis warned that “rigidity” in living out the Christian faith is turning people away from the church, stating that Christianity is becoming increasingly irrelevant, and the lack of adaptability is leading to a religious decline in the West.
Progressive pope vs. conservative/traditional Catholics
Pope Francis has faced increasing criticism and opposition, which has accelerated over the past year, over his progressive-minded papacy.
All this comes amid increased sex abuse and financial scandals, and although many of these predated Francis’ papacy, he has inherited the fallout.
Pope’s words target conservative and traditional Catholics
Pope Francis’s main message was that Christianity no longer maintains the commanding presence and influence in society at once held.
“Today we are no longer the only ones that produce culture, no longer the first nor the most listened to,” Pope Francis told his audience of prelates. “The faith in Europe and in much of the West is no longer an obvious presumption but is often denied, derided, marginalized, and ridiculed.”
“Here we have to beware of the temptation of assuming a rigid outlook,” the Pope continued. “Rigidity that is born from fear of change and ends up disseminating stakes and obstacles in the ground of the common good, turning it into a minefield of misunderstanding and hatred.”
“Rigidity and imbalance fuel one another in a vicious circle,” Francis added. “And these days, the temptation to rigidity has become so apparent.”
“Tradition is not static,” Francis clarified, “it’s dynamic.”
The Gospels don’t change
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
What many conservatives and traditionalists believe is that faith should not be altered to appease a changing world.
God’s word and instructions are firm. As the verses above and those below written by the apostle Paul make clear.
“So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.”
– 2 Thessalonians 2:15
While the Pope seems to be advocating for change, the Scriptures instruct that we should hold firm to the teachings of the Bible.
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”
The Bible instructs us, to always imitate Jesus Christ. In the face of a changing world, we must always ask ourselves: “What would Jesus do?”
“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.”
– 1 Corinthians 11:1-2