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Church Experts Question If Pope Francis Is 'Catholic'

Fordham University in New York City hosted a panel of Catholic experts on April 19 on the subject of a question that, by its very nature, seems to elicit contention: "Is the Pope catholic?"

On April 8, the pontiff's landmark apostolic exhortation "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love") on marriage and the family called into question whether the Pope is truly devoted to upholding traditional Catholic teachings.

The panel had four participants, according to Christian Today: New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, former New York Times religion writer and Commonweal magazine editor Peter Steinfels, Manhattan College theologian Natalia Imperatori-Lee and director of mission and ministry at Marymount School Alice Kearney Alwin.

None of these speakers questioned the Pope's faith, rather they sought to get a better idea about the direction of Catholicism in the U.S.

Douthat criticized the "Amoris Laetitia," saying it was a document designed to introduce ambiguity into church teaching. Steinfels said he thought 'complexity' was a better word than 'ambiguity,' and shared that he is pessimistic about the future of the Church in America.

"Catholicism in the West is divided, disorderly, badly catechised and extremely liberal in terms of the perspective of the average self-identified Catholic," Douthat argued.

Imperatori-Lee responded to Douthat's statement by arguing that the most important question to consider is whether the Church is doing the work of salvation.

"I think that where we agree is that the church, rather than having a desire to be liked, expresses in the world God's desire to save, however that happens. If the church is not doing the work of salvation, then it is a failure," she said.

Sources: Christian Today / Photo credit: Republic of Korea/Flickr

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