In case you came away from the media's coverage of Pope Francis's lengthy interview concluding that the Catholic Church was about to become pro-choice, check out the Holy Father's comments this morning: "Every child that isn't born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord."
This isn't surprising stuff, unless you misinterpreted his comments published Thursday.
Here's the relevant portion of the interview: "The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things."
Key words: "a disjointed multitude of doctrines." That is, Pope Francis wants to join that multitude of doctrines into unity. The rules of the Catholic Church aren't like random government statutes handed out in separate floor votes — they all grow out of central teachings and revelations on divine love.
Catholic scholar Stephen White of the Ethics & Public Policy Center put it well in the Washington Post:
“Everyone knows that the church is against abortion. Everyone knows that the church is opposed to contraception. Everyone knows that the church thinks that homosexual acts are sinful. ... What people have a problem with is why does the church say that?” said Stephen P. White, a fellow in the Catholic Studies Program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “What Pope Francis is saying is that they can’t understand any of that unless we get to the real heart of the Gospel, which is Jesus who loves us, who calls us to love others. ... This is what Francis is saying, it’s from that proposition that the moral consequences then flow. What he’s saying is you don’t want to put the cart before the horse. The moral teachings of the church follow from some deeper truth. We have to get that deeper truth right.”