By ELIZABETH BASTIAN

Staff Writer

Dear Pope Francis,

I just wanted to take the time to thank you for finally embodying the overarching message of the

Bible, a feat several of your predecessors never seemed to accomplish.

As someone who was raised Catholic and attended a Catholic school for over half of my K-

12 experience, I was taught to love your neighbor as yourself, above all things. However, as I

grew older, I began to see that the teachings of the Word were not always practiced by those

who claimed to follow it. While I was confused as first, being younger and naïve, I became

increasingly saddened as I continually saw religious teachings being used as excuses to hurt

other people. Coming into my own upon entering high school and then college, I realized that

my political beliefs, and even just my beliefs about people in general, did not align with that of

the Church. And I know I am not alone, as I have spoken with several other “disenfranchised” or

“reformed” Catholics who left the church once they encountered its political side.

 

I have never once believed that God hates gay people, or that he condemns all other religious

sects outside of Christianity. I am a firm believer in evolution and scientific principles. I am

pro-choice, and I think contraception should be made more accessible to women across the

globe. Which is why I genuinely smiled from ear to ear when I read your interview calling these

“contentious” issues “small-minded rules” that the Church needs to stop being “obsessed” with.

I won’t call you, as someone on Jezebel did, the Beyonce of the Catholic Church, but I will

call you a kindred spirit. You are clearly someone who is in touch with the over one million

Catholics around the world. You understand that times are changing, and beliefs are, too. You

listen – something that the Church has struggled to do for centuries. And I want to thank you for

that.

 

I know we probably still don’t see eye-to-eye on several of these issues, and perhaps we never

will. I know that when you said those things in the interview, you were concerned more with a

reordering of priorities than a revision of the Catholic doctrine. But I am confident that we can

both agree that there are more important things, and more pressing problems, than two men or

two women wanting to marry each other. Placing more emphasis on love, compassion, and

mercy will help heal the wounds of the world more efficiently, and with better results to boot.

Thank you again, Pope Francis, for demonstrating that basic human understanding

and empathy can work wonders, and create real positive change.