The Church Tacks To The Center

Douthat recently speculated that Pope Francis might be able to move “U.S. Catholics away from a too-close entanglement with the fortunes and platform of the Republican Party.” Along those lines, John L. Allen Jr. notes that “Francis seems to be repositioning the church in the political center, after a fairly lengthy period in which many observers perceived it to be drifting to the right”:

Veteran Italian journalist Sandro Magister recently observed, “It cannot be an accident that after 120 days of his pontificate, Pope Francis has not yet spoken the words abortion, euthanasia, homosexual marriage,” adding that “this silence of his is another of the factors that explain the benevolence of secular public opinion.”

Yet Francis has imposed no such gag order on himself when it comes to other political topics, such as poverty, the environment and immigration. …

In Rome, the perception is that power brokers associated with moderate positions, such as Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, coordinator of the commission of cardinals, are on the ascendant, while those linked to neoconservative or traditionalist stances, such as Cardinal Raymond Burke of the United States, head of the Vatican’s supreme court, are in decline.

The church may not veer sharply in its political allegiances, but there seems a clear preference for the social Gospel over the culture wars.