The world has fallen in love with Pope Francis, and I can’t say that I can blame it. He’s kind of a cool Pope. He doesn’t want the Church to focus too much on condemning abortion and gay marriage. He wants to talk about the poor and the oppressed. He believes in climate change. He sounds downright progressive.

But once in a while I hear something from him that reminds me why I have a problem with–not him, so much, but the Church that he represents. Such as when he says, in support of large families:

“Every family is a cell of society…but large families are richer and more vital cells.”

Are they? This is why I–and a lot of other people living in our times–feel such a disconnect with the traditional Catholic Church. When it comes to human lives, the Church still values quantity over quality. Does more automatically equal richer and more vital? What about a family which has fewer kids but puts more time and care into raising them? A family which gives them more–and I don’t mean strictly in the material sense, but also in the emotional and intellectual sense? I suspect the Pope sees large families as a bulwark against modern materialism and selfishness. And yet I’ve known childless people who lead very unselfish lives. On the other hand, I remember the abusive town drunk from my childhood days, with his miserable wife and his seven kids, most of them illiterate. That was a rich and vital cell of society? Give me a break.

For so many of us, the rules of “procreate!” and “more!” no longer satisfy. For the same reasons, we are less interested in following the rules of traditional marriage and more interested in the meaning of our relationship with our partner. The content matters more than the framework.

But hey, Francis is still quite the charming guy. And I love the way he confuses and irritates the laissez-faire capitalist Christian conservatives here in America. I will always give him brownie points for that.

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At the same time that some American states such as Texas and North Dakota are taking gradual small steps to make abortion more restricted and difficult to get, the very Catholic country of Ireland is taking a tiny step in the direction of expanding abortion rights.  The Irish parliament has voted to allow abortions in certain “life-saving” situations, including when the woman is threatening to commit suicide because of her pregnancy, or if her life is endangered by continuing the pregnancy.

Here is what one of Ireland’s Catholic bishops has said about his opposition to the bill:

The Bill is not necessary to ensure that women receive the life-saving treatments they need during pregnancy.  The medical treatment of mothers whose lives are in danger is always morally permissible even if this results in the unintended death of a child in the womb.  The Catholic Church has never taught that the life in the womb should be preferred to that of the mother.”

Unfortunately, it hasn’t always worked out that way.  The abortion controversy in Ireland was stoked in 2012 by the case of Savita Halappanavar, an Indian dentist who was admitted to an Irish hospital while miscarrying.  She requested an abortion for health reasons, was denied one, and died of septicemia a week later.

So either the Bishop doesn’t really mean what he’s saying—which wouldn’t be surprising for a representative of the Church, and I say that with sadness—or what he’s saying has not been communicated clearly to employees of Catholic hospitals in Ireland.

Even if you are looking at this from the pro-life perspective, I would think the bill is a good idea.  Wouldn’t you be happy not to lose two lives instead of one?