During an August 5th visit with Jesuits in Portugal, Pope Francis contended that certain U.S. Catholics exhibit a tendency to prioritize ideological matters over faith, which he described as “backward-looking” in comments outlined in a transcript published on Monday by the Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica.

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The pontiff engaged with members of the Colégio de São João de Brito, an educational institution overseen by the Society of Jesus. During the meeting, he delved into the extent of political division within the U.S. church, highlighting the prevalent “reactionary attitude” among numerous faith followers.

Per the transcript, Francis expressed his desire to underscore to U.S. Catholics that adopting a “backward-looking” stance isn’t conducive to the church’s well-being, emphasizing that doctrine continually undergoes “progressing.”

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“I would like to remind those people that indietrismo (being backward-looking) is useless and we need to understand that there is an appropriate evolution in the understanding of matters of faith and morals as long as we follow the three criteria that Vincent of Lérins already indicated in the fifth century: doctrine evolves ut annis consolidetur, dilatetur tempore, sublimetur aetate,” Francis said.

“In other words, doctrine also progresses, expands and consolidates with time and becomes firmer, but is always progressing,” he added.

Francis argued further that those with a tendency to move backward risked being “disconnected from the roots of the Church” and that pushing “criteria for change” above and beyond what the Catholic Church describes can be “devastating,” according to the transcript.

“You have been to the United States and you say you have felt a climate of closure,” Francis said. “Yes, this climate can be experienced in some situations.

“And there, you can lose the true tradition and turn to ideologies for support. In other words, ideology replaces faith, membership of a sector of the Church replaces membership of the Church,” the Pontiff continued.

In 2020, Francis said in a documentary that “civil union law” should be created for same-sex relationships, and in June, the Vatican released a draft document that would help the Catholic Church appeal to groups that may have been “marginalized” by the church, including the LGBTQ community and women.

He said during a July trip to South Korea that world leaders needed to do more to “limit polluting emissions,” according to Reuters.

Disclaimer: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.