The new head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has given his first long interview. In three sessions with Father Antonio Spadaro, editor of the Jesuit publication La Civiltà Cattolica, Francis outlines his thinking on a series of issues, from poverty to homosexuality to women in the church. What does the interview tell us? It tells us the pope is a liberal. He’ll pull the church to the left, not just on sexuality, but on every issue that pits tradition against freedom or progress. [emphasis added] Here’s a breakdown of the English translation of the interview, published by the Catholic journal America.
These liberals misunderstand the pope, because they don’t understand a tension in their own thinking. Politically, Francis isn’t liberal. He’s progressive. We use these terms interchangeably, but they’re different. [emphasis added] Liberalism is fundamentally about doubt: You have your view, I have mine, and we agree to disagree. Progressivism is about confidence: Your view is wrong, mine is right, and I’m going to change the world accordingly. Francis is confident, and he’s not afraid to use political power to achieve his aims. As he puts it, “A good Catholic meddles in politics.”
These at one point seemed to include him. It's kind of trippy to observe this because ten years ago Slate authors could discuss Teddy Roosevelt's role in progressive politics even though it would be difficult to classify Roosevelt, or at least that Roosevelt, as being a liberal overall. I would have thought over the last decade Slate contributors and, er, editors could keep these distinctions clear.