‘The view of church doctrine as a monolith is wrong.’ 

From NCR: 

Pope Francis blasted what he described as groups of “very strong, reactionary” American Catholics, warning against becoming “backwardists” who oppose change in the Catholic Church.

“The situation in the United States is not easy: there is a very strong, reactionary attitude. It is organized and shapes the way people belong, even emotionally,” said the pope. “I want to remind these people that backwardism is useless, and it is necessary to understand that there is a correct evolution in the understanding of questions of faith and morals.”

The pope’s comments came during an Aug. 5 meeting with the Jesuits in Portugal during his Aug. 2-6 visit to Lisbon for World Youth Day. His remarks were published by the Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica on Aug. 28.

In responding to a question from a Portuguese Jesuit who said he had spent last year in the United States — where he often witnessed criticisms of Francis’ leadership of the church, including by American bishops — the pope pointed to what he described as “concrete” examples of church teaching evolving over time.

“Today it is a sin to possess atomic bombs; the death penalty is a sin, it cannot can be practiced, and it was not so before,” he said. “As for slavery, some pontiffs before me have tolerated it, but things are different today.”

Francis went on to point to the writings of the fifth century monk, Vincent of Lérins, who taught that doctrine “may be consolidated by years, expanded by time, exalted by age.”

“Change develops from the root upward, growing with these three criteria,” the pope told the Jesuits, noting that Lérins knew that the understanding of the human person is deepened with the passage of time.

“The other sciences and their evolution also help the church in this growth in understanding,” Francis said. “The view of church doctrine as a monolith is wrong.”

… While Francis did not name particular individuals or groups in his meeting with the Portuguese Jesuits, he offered a broadside against what he has frequently referred to as “indietrists” (Italian for “backwardists”).

“Those American groups of which you speak, so closed, are isolating themselves. And instead of living by doctrine, by the true doctrine that always develops and bears fruit, they live by ideologies,” he added. “But when you abandon doctrine in life to replace it with an ideology, you have lost, you have lost as in war.”

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