The Leavenworth Times
November 17, 2020
By Arthur I. Cyr
Columns share an author’s personal perspective.
“An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth …,” is a useful starting place for discussion of the influence of Pope Francis, who is proving to be a remarkably active and activist leader of the Roman Catholic Church. To modern readers, the Biblical quote (Exodus 21:24) may seem brutal, but the Old Testament sentiment actually represented revolutionary progress.
Ancient warfare involved unrestrained killing and pillaging. By contrast, this Hebrew law codified proportionality and limits. Historically and currently, the Vatican has played an important role in restraining and restricting warfare, building on this fundamental insight.
Pope Francis has just made an important statement supporting of civil unions of same-sex couples. His message is in the documentary “Francesco” which premiered Oct. 28 in Rome.
The essential Christian message emphasizes compassion, and the Catholic Church over centuries has played a vital role in relief of poverty and human misery, and in promotion of human rights. The cumulative positive impact is profound among the approximately one billion Roman Catholics currently on the planet, and well beyond.
Pope Francis’ April 2016 letter on marriage and the family should be viewed in this context. Media commentary emphasized Rome’s reiteration of commitment to traditional marriage, which is hardly news. The letter emphasizes tolerance for those who do not accept Catholic doctrine. That marks a change, important if overdue.
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