New book addresses reforms

Theologian: Pope Francis is a pastor and not a great reformer

Köln - He has written a book entitled "The Pope of Disappointments". In an interview, the theologian and religious journalist Michael Meier now explains what he believes this to be and also says what he thinks Francis is above all.

Published  on 20.04.2024 at 14:30  – 

In the view of theologian Michael Meier, Pope Francis is first and foremost a pastor who does not want to shake up existing doctrine. There have been "grand gestures and statements" that have led many people to hope that reforms are now coming, the religious journalist told the Cologne church internet portal (Saturday) about his book "The Pope of Disappointments". But that's not true. "He is a pastor who shows mercy and wants a new pastoral approach to people. But to conclude from this that he is undertaking major reforms is wrong."

The Pope is hesitant and does not dare to touch doctrine. "He is a pastor, that is his domain - and not theology. He doesn't want to re-explore doctrine, and I also believe that he lives quite well with the image of the thwarted reformer. He remains a shining light for his followers," said Meier. You can see a pastoral approach in individual cases, "but then he shies away from drawing the consequences in terms of doctrine".

With regard to the possibility of blessings for homosexual couples, for example, Meier said that this was indeed a change. "But I still can't see any progress in it. For me, it's a sham. If I bless someone, then I would think that this blessing qualifies this relationship as good and okay. And that's not what it does. It is an understanding of blessing that is very alien to me." The Pope does not want to change the doctrine and is looking for pastoral room for manoeuvre "to soften the hard-heartedness of this doctrine a little". Meier emphasised: "You keep hearing from this Pope what great things he has said and done, but ultimately what counts for a later pontificate is what is written in the doctrinal letters." (KNA)