While the mainstream media continue to praise almost everything Pope Francis says and does, there are many within the Catholic Church who are concerned about the radical approach of the so-called ‘people’s pontiff’.
To give you an idea of his new vision for the Church, we’ve put together 10 of Pope Francis’ most controversial statements to date which will likely increase over the course of this pontificate:
You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven
In an open letter to Eugenio Scalfari, the founder of Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper, pope Francis answered questions from readers that were sent in. One of them was about the possibility of an atheist going to heaven.
“The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience. Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience”.
Tells Muslims we are ‘children of the same God’
After washing the feet of several Muslim refugees at a Holy Thursday Mass, the pope said “All of us together, Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Copts, Evangelical [Protestants] brothers and sisters — children of the same God — we want to live in peace, integrated.”
‘Who am I to judge?’ when asked about gay lifestyles
Speaking to reporters on a flight back from Brazil in 2013, the pope said “[If] someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
The Bible and the Koran ‘are the same’
During an hour-long speech at the Vatican, the pope said that the Koran and the spiritual teachings contained therein, were just as valid as the bible.
“Jesus Christ, Jehovah, Allah. These are all names employed to describe an entity that is distinctly the same across the world.
Evolution is real, God did not wave a ‘magic wand’
Speaking at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in Vatican City in 2014, the pope said that the theories of evolution and the Big Bang were real and that God did not wave a ‘magic wand’ to create the universe.
“God is not a demiurge [or demigod] or a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life. Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve” he said.
Communists are secret Christians
Pope Francis, whose criticisms of unbridled capitalism have prompted some to label him a Marxist, said in an interview published two years ago that communists had stolen the flag of Christianity.
“I can only say that the communists have stolen our flag. The flag of the poor is Christian. Poverty is at the center of the Gospel … Communists say that all this is communism. Sure, twenty centuries later. So when they speak, one can say to them, ‘But then you are a Christian’.”
Women in the Catholic priesthood
Pope Francis told the heads of women’s religious orders from around the world that he would set up a commission to study the New Testament deaconesses and he also insisted more can and should be done to involve lay and consecrated women in church decision-making at every level.
Asked if he would establish “an official commission to study the question” of whether women could be admitted to the diaconate, Pope Francis responded: “I accept. It would be useful for the church to clarify this question. I agree.”
It’s better for couples to live together than marry in Church
In off-the-cuff remarks, the pope made the dual claim that the “great majority” of Catholic marriages are “null” – in other words, not actual marriages – and that couples who live together “have the grace of a real marriage”.
“I’ve seen a lot of fidelity in these cohabitations, and I am sure that this is a real marriage, they have the grace of a real marriage because of their fidelity,” he said.
Catholics shouldn’t breed ‘like rabbits’
On his return trip from the Philippines in 2015, Pope Francis said that it’s not true that to be a good Catholic “you have to be like rabbits”. On the contrary, he said “responsible parenthood” requires that couples regulate the births of their children.
It’s okay to use contraceptives sometimes
Speaking to reporters aboard a Vatican plane, Pope Francis suggested that it was okay to use condoms and that ‘avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil’.
The pope’s spokesman Fr. Lombardi later clarified these comments by saying “The contraceptive or condom, in particular cases of emergency or gravity, could be the object of discernment in a serious case of conscience. This is what the Pope said.”
Saudi Arabia Bans Magazine Cover Featuring Pope Francis
National Geographic issue not allowed for ‘cultural reasons’
Saudi Arabia has banned the Arabic version of National Geographic magazine, which features an image of Pope Francis.
Although the US-based company has yet to comment on the incident, it is believed that the Islamic country took offence to the image of the Catholic Pontiff.
Alsaad Omar al-Menhaly, the magazine’s editor-in-chief for Saudi Arabia, issued a statement on Twitter in which he said: “Dear readers in Saudi Arabia, we apologize that you did not receive August’s magazine. According to the distribution company, the magazine was refused entry for cultural reasons.”
The magazine’s headline, which suggested that the Pope was leading a “quiet revolution”, may also have upset a regime concerned about possible unrest.
While Saudi Arabia has admitted not a single Syrian refugee in four years, the tiny Vatican City State is taking two refugee families in this week, and Pope Francis has called for Catholics across Europe to welcome Syrians, regardless of their religion.
Wheels on their feet! These Catholic monks make shoes from old car tyres
Back in early 2012, a group of friars began collecting old car tyres to be used to create new shoes for their monks to wear – the process will both amaze and shock you!
Spirit of poverty
Located in Morgon, France, the Capuchin monks of St. Francis Monastery have managed to successfully combine the spirit of poverty and ecological awareness by recycling one of the most polluting consumer items of the 21st century: car tyres.
Brother Ignatius, who handles the project, explains the process of making a shoe from scratch using recycled tyres which are donated to the Monastery by a local high school.
After drawing an outline of the shoe onto the car tyre, it is then carefully cut out using a jigsaw.
The heel of the shoe is also cut out and sanded down using a grinding wheel.
The parts are put together using glue.
A final layer is added to the upper part of the shoe.
All three parts of the sole are then fastened with nails and sanded down using the grinder.
Finally, two sandal straps (made from recycled leather belts) are added.
The recycled sandals are worn by the Capuchin monks of Morgon in both summer and winter – one brother is said to have covered over 10,000 km wearing this type of shoe!
Dan Aykroyd: Catholic Seminarian Turned Actor
Legendary comedic actor and screenwriter Dan Aykroyd was born on July 1, 1952 in Ottawa. His French Canadian mother, Lorraine Gougon Aykroyd, worked as a secretary, and his father, Peter Aykroyd, was a civil engineer who worked as a policy adviser to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. He has a younger brother named Peter.
Aykroyd grew up in the Catholic Church in Ottawa, and until the age of seventeen, he was interested in becoming a priest. Outgoing and hyperactive, he was expelled from his strict Catholic seminary school and ended up at Carleton University where he studied psychology, criminal sociology and political science. During college, he was part of the Sock and Buskin Drama Guild, and his focus shifted toward acting and performing.
After graduation, he did stand-up comedy in a number of local clubs and ran a speakeasy called Club 505. Aykroyd also began playing blues music and immersing himself in Ottawa’s blues culture – a time which would later influence the creation of the Blues Brothers. In 1975, Aykroyd became the youngest cast member and writer on the first four seasons of Saturday Night Live.
He was famous for his impersonations of people like Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon, and for his co-creation of skits like the Coneheads. Aykroyd’s close friendship with fellow cast member John Belushi inspired the creation of the Blues Brothers, which was first a skit, then a legitimate musical act, immortalized in an album and film.
After leaving Saturday Night Live, Aykroyd embarked on a long and successful film career. In 1984, he co-wrote Ghostbusters with Harold Ramis, and it went on to become one of the biggest hits of the decade. In 1989, he became the second former SNL cast member to be nominated for an Oscar when he was recognized for his work in Driving Miss Daisy. He continues to play supporting roles in big films and guest spots on popular television shows.
Aykroyd has three daughters with his wife of over thirty years, actress Donna Dixon. He maintains his Canadian citizenship and owns an estate on Loughborough Lake, in Ontario. He has an avid interest in UFOlogy and Spiritualism, and he has been a member of the Order of Canada since 1998.
With his colorful history and legendary talent, Dan Aykroyd remains one of the most celebrated comedians in Canadian news today.