I'm going to stick my neck right out.
In the midst of the great goodwill which surrounds the new Catholic pope, Francis, the usual mutters are arising about the Church's stance on gay marriages, woman priests, contraception, abortion and so on. But what I want to say is, enough already!
I myself have always supported what I call "People's Lib." In the late 1960s, when my dear friend, the late John D'Arcy, invited me to a Gay Lib march, I refused. Not because I was anti homosexuality (quite the reverse) but because I saw no reason to polarise gay people in this way. Everyone is entitled to the same rights, irresepective of gender orientation, skin colour, religion or language; or any other distinguishing characteristic. So it goes without saying that I have no issue with same sex marriages, a woman's right to choose what happens in her own body, a couple's right to enjoy sex without falling pregnant, and the rest. I am not a Catholic, so I owe no allegiance to the rule of the supreme pontiff.
If I were a Catholic, I would soon join the ranks of the lapsed. However, millions of people around the world choose to follow this sector of the Christian faith, and good luck to them. Francis is the new head of this global community, and is not expected to budge on these issues. Good for him. The things he will uphold are among the cornerstones of the religion he now commands, in loco St Peter, to whom Jesus said, "On this rock I will build my church."
I am a follower of Jesus. I have never found any other teachings that speak so personally to me, so he is my man. But whether I am still with the "Son of God, who died to buy forgiveness for our sins, rising from the dead on the third day, etc." concept, I really cannot say. I see no reason why men and women cannot both be priests, marry one another in whatever configuration they desire to do, have children or adopt them ... it is their free choice, and if people disagree with me, that is their democratic right. If Pope Francis says the opposite to me, this is his right, and as the head of a church which espouses the belief-system that he represents, his responsibility too - why should he have to change his stance?
So my plea is, give the man a rest on these ultimately insoluble issues. If you a Catholic and you really cannot agree with these things, leave the Catholic Church, become an Anglican, for example - here you will find a home for almost every variation of the Christian belief system. If you are not, what business is it of yours what Catholics believe and do? Have your own opinion of course, express it, but there an end.
I am heartened by the new Pope's declared concern for the poor and for a "poor church". For the fact that he chooses to rule bearing the name of the sublime St Francis of Assisi. But in the final analysis, however much I disagree with so many "Catholic" things, they are not my concern. Different strokes for different folks and we are all entitled to what gets us through the day, and all our days. So I wish Francesco Primo happy days and will observe with interest and admiration what he accomplishes - but we need to cut the man some slack, and give him a break.