In Italian newspaper, Corriere Della Sera, the Pope spoke on matters such as civil union, women in the church and contraception.
Some commentators are pointing specifically to his words on civil unions as they mark a move in the church’s stance. The following transcript shows he considers each topic is worth ‘evaluating’, consulting experts on and taking into account people’s situations. While this may all sound a bit like Fr.Jack on Craggy Island -‘that would be an ecumenical matter’- it may upset the conservative commentators used to his predecessors’ dismissal of such questions. Transcript follows:
Many nations have regulated civil unions. Is it a path that the Church can understand? But up to what point?
Marriage is between a man and a woman. Secular states want to justify civil unions to regulate different situations of cohabitation, pushed by the demand to regulate economic aspects between persons, such as ensuring health care. It is about pacts of cohabitating of various natures, of which I wouldn’t know how to list the different ways. One needs to see the different cases and evaluate them in their variety.
How will the role of the woman in the Church be promoted?
Also here, casuistry does not help. It is true that women can and must be more present in the places of decision-making in the Church. But this I would call a promotion of the functional sort. Only in this way you don’t get very far. We must rather think that the Church has a feminine article : ‘La’. She is feminine in her origin. The great theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar worked a lot on this theme: the Marian principle guides the Church aside the Petrine. The Virgin Mary is more important than any bishop and any apostle. The theological deepening is in process. Cardinal Rylko, with the Council for the Laity, is working in this direction with many women experts in different areas.
At half a century from Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae, can the Church take up again the theme of birth control? Cardinal Martini, your confrere, thought that the moment had come.
All of this depends on how Humanae Vitae is interpreted. Paul VI himself, at the end, recommended to confessors much mercy, and attention to concrete situations. But his genius was prophetic, he had the courage to place himself against the majority, defending the moral discipline, exercising a culture brake, opposing present and future neo-Malthusianism. The question is not that of changing the doctrine but of going deeper and making pastoral (ministry) take into account the situations and that which it is possible for people to do. Also of this we will speak in the path of the synod.
There’s a transcript here.