Pope Francis Says Sex Is a Pleasure That Arrives ‘Directly From God’
Pope Francis — one of the most progressive leaders the Catholic Church has ever seen — has said sex and food are “simply divine” pleasures that arrive “directly from God,” in an interview with writer Carlo Petrini for his book TerraFutura. He condemned the church’s past views on simple pleasures such as food and sex, calling it “overzealous morality” that has “caused enormous harm, which can still be felt strongly today.”
Francis, who has significantly digressed from the church’s views on what constitutes a sin, added, “the pleasure of eating is there to keep you healthy by eating, just like sexual pleasure is there to make love more beautiful and guarantee the perpetuation of the species.” His focus on sex for pleasure is especially noteworthy, as it differs from the Vatican’s staunch insistence on sex as merely a vehicle for procreation that has long-resulted in an institutional condemnation of birth control and abortion.
Pope Francis’s approach to sex has slowly evolved over the years — in 2016, he acknowledged the joy of sex and how married couples might need to work at cultivating that joy throughout the course of their marriage; in 2018, he told young French people that sex was the sign of lifelong, passionate love between a man and a woman. Also in 2018, Francis said homosexual tendencies “are not a sin” while reportedly reassuring a gay man that God made him, and God loved him. This, combined with his latest comment equating sex and pleasure, shows how openness toward sex as a pleasurable, recreational activity can open doors for people to normalize not only a healthy sex life but also their own sexuality.
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Removing sex from the requirements of procreation also reflects in the way Francis has approached birth control — in 2016, he gave Catholic priests the power to forgive women who’ve had abortions, if they came in and confessed to their sin and asked for God’s forgiveness. While he maintained that abortion was a “grave sin,” he also urged priests not to shun or ostracise women who had had abortions. In “AMORIS LÆTITIA,” a document released in 2016, he also said contraception was a decision best left up to couples and their conscience, and not blanket rules imposed by the Vatican.
These opinions, combined with his view on sex and pleasure, signal a shift from the compulsion of procreation that allows room for people’s human desires and more kindness toward their decisions, more than the papacy has extended to people in the past. This, however, in no way overpowers the need for them to do more, in terms of accepting gay unions, removing abortion from the list of sins, and wholeheartedly accepting what society considers deviant ways of having sex and seeking pleasure.
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