Having faith in the progressive pope

Pope Francis’ unprecedented survey may be a sign of progressive policies to come.

Luis Ruuska

Although Pope Francis has only led the world’s smallest country since March, he’s on his way to becoming the most popular pope yet.

From his inclusive statements about the LGBT and non-religious communities to his impromptu, picture-perfect moments with followers, the pope has captivated the hearts and minds of many inside — and outside — the Roman Catholic Church.

Now Francis may be striving for more than international appeal.

Francis tasked a group of bishops convening in Baltimore on Monday to make the Church more welcoming by surveying their dioceses.

This is an unprecedented move from the Vatican, which is known for its lack of new ideas. While Vatican leaders have the final vote on Church policies, feedback from Catholics could spur the papacy to modernize.

Francis’ 38-question survey raised eyebrows because it asks what the Church can do for people in same-sex unions with adopted children, those who are divorced or remarried, and non-practicing Catholics or non-believers. These are topics the Church has shoved under the rug in the past.

The Vatican left it up to bishops to decide how to best distribute the survey to their respective dioceses. Bishops have until January 2014 to collect surveys and send them to Rome for review.

I can’t help but appreciate the pope’s latest move as a sincere effort to bring the Church into the 21st century by modifying policies not based in doctrine.

It would seem Catholics want change too. In a March CBS News/New York Times poll, 66 percent of American Catholics said they wanted a younger pope with new ideas. More than half wanted a pope with more liberal teachings.

Let’s hope Francis puts his mozetta where his mouth is and creates a more open-minded Church. If the pope is willing, we have seen only the beginning of papal progression. Even a non-Catholic like me can say amen to that.