That being said, he’s only been in his current position for less than a year. Yet in that time he’s made some remarkable comments and stances that are in complete contrast to his predecessors. Though he’s still yet to really clarify publicly his firm stance on issues like abortion, homosexuality or contraception — he’s made it clear that he feels it’s time the church focuses more attention on matters like helping the poor rather than hot-button social issues.
Personally I believe his goal is to modernize the church on many of these key social issues over time, but he knows he can’t just come out and say that because change often happens (and is more accepted) when it’s done slowly rather than quickly.
That being said, he was pretty clear on his recent comments about public breastfeeding.
During a Sunday ceremony where 32 babies were baptized, Pope Francis said:
“If they are hungry, mothers, feed them, without thinking twice, because they are the most important people here. Today the choir will sing but the most beautiful choir of all is the choir of the infants who will make a noise. Some will cry because they are not comfortable or because they are hungry.”
These words go along with a story from a short time ago where a woman apparently seemed nervous about feeding her baby in the presence of the Pope, when he encouraged the woman to give the baby something to eat.
While these words to most might elicit a response of, “What’s the big deal, breastfeeding is natural!” still it’s important to remember that even in a progressive society there still remains a debate over public breastfeeding. So for the Pope to not only seemingly endorse it, but encourage it in the Sistine Chapel is actually a pretty big deal.
But like I said before, the Pope still has a long way to go if he wants to make a real difference in the perception many have not just of the Catholic Church but of Christianity as a whole. He’s far from perfect and has yet to really come out with a definitive stance on several key issues that many people are anxious to hear from him on. Which might be his plan. Like I said, change often happens slowly. Perhaps Pope Francis is well aware of that and has chosen to take a slower approach rather than risk his long-term plan towards progress by acting impatiently.
However, if his first year is any indication of his future plans, I am highly encouraged as to what this Pope might be able to accomplish.