Should Pope Francis Bring Social Reform To The Catholic Church?

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Pope Francis
Many of us struggle to reconcile faith with modern morality. Is that the Church's responsibility?

As a new Pope, Francis, assumes his role, legions of Catholics—devout, lapsed and otherwise—are wondering just what kind of a pontiff he'll be. He's already broken new ground by taking such a non-traditional name (popes traditionally take the names of their predecessors; Francis has never been used by any other pope); will he break ground in other ways, too? Will he change the Church's stance on ethical issues—abortion and divorce, to name a few—that have conflicted modern Catholics in recent years?

The authority of the Vatican (and most other organized religions) has been tested thoroughly by shifting values, particularly in the U.S. Many Americans continue to embrace values that are dead set against some of the most basic traditional teachings of the Catholic Church, particularly when it comes to matters of the heart—and of the bedroom. But the Church harkens back to a time when religion held sway over all, including the relationships closest to our hearts.

Issues, like homosexuality and gay marriage in particular, as well as abortion, divorce and birth control have proven very divisive among those who identify as Catholic (by varying degrees). In fact, the Church has, for centuries, labeled homosexuality, divorce, abortion and birth control as very serious sins.

And yet, in 2013, these issues have progressed in the U.S. almost to the point of becoming non-issues. Gay marriage has been legalized in nine states (and counting), abortion has been legal for 40 years and birth control is considered by most completely acceptable.

So what's a Catholic to do? As someone who was raised in the Catholic faith (13 years of Catholic school!), yet considers himself socially liberal, I completely understand the moral dilemma faced on a regular basis by millions of people who want to lead modern lives and be able to love who and how they want—yet also want to be true to their religion. Keep reading ...

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