June 23, 2024

Pope Francis’ progressive measures introduce a new era in the Catholic Church

In a number of historic moves, Pope Francis has signaled the dawn of a new, more progressive  Catholic Church. 

Since his response to the doctrinal question on same-sex unions last month, His Holiness has continued to pave the way for LGBTQ+-friendly policies in the Church. On Nov. 8, Pope Francis announced that transgender-identifying individuals can be baptized, and serve as godparents. 

In a response to a series of questions posed by a Brazilian bishop on LGBTQ+ people in the Church, the Holy Father elaborated that the decision would ultimately be at the discretion of the local priest. He additionally advised that the priest should practice “pastoral prudence.” 

While the decision may not appear outwardly progressive given the advancement of transgender rights in most developing countries, the doctrinal clarification is a huge step. The Catholic Church is the organization that created an exception for the use of condoms for queer individuals to “result in at least the facilitation of evil” during the AIDS crisis, so this advancement shows significant strides in the Church’s ideology. 

Reuters reports that the pope met with transgender individuals in July whom he told “even if we are sinners, he (God) draws near to help us. The Lord loves us as we are, this is God’s crazy love.” 

In another huge step for progressive ideology in the Church, Pope Francis removed an outspoken conservative bishop in Texas following an official Church investigation. 

Joseph Strickland, the 65-year-old bishop of Tyler, Texas has been one of the pope’s biggest and most outspoken critics. In 2020, the bishop took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to dare Pope Francis to fire him. 

The bishop was asked to resign, however Vatican officials told the Hill the bishop refused the offer. The decision prompted his removal from office by Pope Francis on Nov. 11. 

The official Vatican investigation was elicited by complaints and claims that Strickland was making unorthodox claims on a variety of Church issues including female diocese, abortion and arguments that Catholics should not vote for Democratic candidates. 

While Strickland’s removal does not present a direct threat to those who have voiced opposition to the Holy Father’s progressive policy changes, it outlines an extent to the freedom granted by the doctrine of “pastoral prudence.”

At the age of 86, given his recent health battles, many have raised questions about the future of the pope’s papacy. With little time left, many have argued that Pope Francis is preparing the Church for his predecessor. 

Almost none of his policies have directly outlined absolute tolerance, but rather created an environment to promote inclusion. He has welcomed support and opposition to his agenda, but has now drawn a line between pastoral prudence and behavior unbecoming of a leader in his church. 

Updates on the Pope and transcripts of his press releases can be found on the Vatican’s website. Heading into his eleventh year as pope, Pope Francis stands resolute in his efforts in the new era of the Catholic Church. 


  • Josie Speakman

    Josie is a first-year Political Science major with a Spanish minor on a Pre-Law track. In her free time, she enjoys reading and watching movies.

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