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From denying existence of ‘hell’ to LGBTQ in churches, here’s why Pope Francis has raked up a storm

While some Catholics have lauded Pope Francis as a refreshing change, some progressives have slammed him for offering merely cosmetic changes to the church’s stance on controversial social issues.

Written by Christina George | New Delhi | Updated: April 3, 2019 9:07:51 am
From denying existence of 'hell' to LGBTQ in churches, here's why Pope Francis has raked up a storm Pope Francis waves as he leads the “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message from the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Pope Francis, the 266th pope of the Catholic Church, has since the past few years courted controversy and drawn global attention for his remarks on divorce/marriage, church, LGBTQ community and so on. While Pope Francis has been lauded by some Catholics as a refreshing change, he’s also been slammed by some progressives as offering merely cosmetic changes to the church’s stance on controversial social issues like divorce and LGBTQ rights.

Here is a list of controversies under Pope Francis’ papacy:

“Hell does not exist”

Pope Francis was quoted as saying by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that sinners who die without achieving eternal salvation are not punished. “There is no hell; there is the disappearance of sinful souls.” His quote reportedly caused panic within the church. As the news surfaced on social media, the Vatican dismissed the news and said La Repubblica’s interview was “reconstruction” and not a transcript of what the Pope said. The controversy had erupted as Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 prisoners at Rome’s Regina Coeli prison on Holy Thursday. Among the inmates were two Muslims, an Orthodox Christian and a Buddhist. He told them: “Everyone has the opportunity to change life and one cannot judge.”

Pope shocks Chile by accusing sex abuse victims of slander

In January 2018, Pope Francis accused victims of Chile’s most notorious pedophile of slander, an astonishing end to a visit meant to help heal the wounds of a sex abuse scandal that has cost the Catholic Church its credibility in the country. Francis said that until he sees proof that Bishop Juan Barros was complicit in covering up the sex crimes of the Rev. Fernando Karadimas, such accusations against Barros are ‘all calumny.’

But the sex abuse scandals have haunted his papacy and the Vatican announced it was reviving its anti-paedophile panel. A trip to Chile in January was seen as a resounding failure after he defended a bishop accused of covering up the crimes of a paedophile priest.

Pope on Divorce/remarriage

Speaking on the controversial stance of divorce in Catholic terms, Pope issued an endorsement of major changes in the way priests approach Catholics who are divorced and remarried. Pope Francis outlined his vision for how the Vatican will promote family and life issues, naming an American moderate to head the new Vatican office for families and laity and directing related institutes to give merciful care to spiritually wounded Catholics.

Francis said he wanted the institutes to focus on imbuing church teaching on life and marriage issues with mercy, opening dialogue with other academic and scientific centers, Christian and not.

Pope Francis wanted Lord’s Prayer changed

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In December 2017, Pope suggested there should be some theological clarity to one of the best-known prayers in English language also known as the “Our Father prayer.” The words “Lead us not into temptation,” can cause confusion, Francis said in a interview. To make it clear that God would not lead anybody toward sin, the pope suggested a better translation, something along the lines of, “Do not let us fall into temptation.” Social media was outraged by Pope’s suggestions and many reacted with comments like, “Leave the Lord’s Prayer alone!”

“God doesn’t condemn LGBT individuals”

Pope Francis two years ago sent shockwaves around the world by saying, “If someone is gay and searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” In a contrast to his predecessors, like Pope Benedict XVI, who suggested that gay marriage was a threat to global peace, Pope Francis said that transsexuals and homosexuals should be be accepted and embraced by the Catholic Church, but said he was staunchly opposed to schools promoting or endorsing such “tendencies”.

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