THE RECENT interview with Cardinal Sean O’Malley (“Pope softening tone, not substance, O’Malley says,” Page A1, Feb. 9) avoided the most pressing question — “Is the pope prochoice?” A careful listening to Francis suggests the answer is “Yes.” He has instructed his 4,000 or so bishops to minimize their antiabortion preaching, and that will probably mean a cutback in classic prolife activity, i.e. efforts to create civil law that would prohibit or greatly reduce the availability of abortion.
O’Malley’s spin that the pope is only changing emphasis and the pope’s statement that abortion is horrific are bound-to-fail efforts to maintain an illusion of orthodoxy. Francis is what he is, another Jesuit in the tradition of the late congressman and Jesuit priest Robert Drinan, and he is unlikely to change.
The real question for Catholics is what the next conclave to elect a pope will bring — an affirmation of Francis’ new direction or a return to the hard line.