A return to social justice emphasis for Catholics?

Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope, may be signaling a return to emphasizing social justice over doctrines — something that had begun to get the Jesuits in trouble with his two predecessors, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul.

In September, as the New York Times reported, Pope Francis “sent shock waves” through the church by remarking that the Vatican had grown too “obsessed” with issues like abortion, gay marriage and contraception. He urged an inclusive church, a “home for all,” contrasting sharply with Benedict’s insistence that stricter enforcement of doctrine should produce a smaller, purer Catholicism.

On the other hand, the same month he was issuing his remarks, Pope Francis was also issuing his first excommunication of a priest: that of the Rev. Greg Reynolds of Melbourne for his support of ordaining women and of equal marriage rights.

What impact will the change in tone, if not of actions, have in Seattle. In Gay Seattle, in Chapter 16, I discuss the history of the relationship between the local Catholic Church and the LGBTQ community in the 1970s and 1980s. (You can read excerpts from the menu above.) That history is updated in the introduction to the new paperback.