Pope Francis

Many people were surprised that Pope Francis, in a recent interview for a book, stated that the pleasures of eating food and of having sex are “simply divine”. The Pope wants us to eat well and enjoy sex.

These thoughts were part of three conversations between Carlo Petrini and Pope Francis which form the content of the book, “TerraFutura” exploring Pope Francis’ vision of integral ecology (see here and here). Carlo Petrini is the founder of the global “Slow Food” movement.

…Pleasure arrives directly from God, it is neither Catholic, nor Christian, nor anything else, it is simply divine… The Church has condemned inhuman, brutish, vulgar pleasure, but has on the other hand always accepted human, simple, moral pleasure… 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….

Pope Francis in TerraFutura

Francis states that sex and the joy of eating a well-cooked meal are victims of the church’s “overzealousness morality” in the past, which he sees as “a wrong interpretation of the Christian message.” The views in the past that have condemned all sex and pleasure “have caused enormous harm, which can still be felt strongly today.”

Pope Francis pointed to the film “Babette’s Feast” in which people are brought together in faith and community by an extravagant meal cooked by a member of the church’s congregation. 

Pope Francis is a Jesuit, and I am reminded of the Principle and Foundation from the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits:

You are created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save your soul.

And the other things on the face of the earth are created for you and that they may help you as means to the end for which you are created.

From this it follows that you are to use them as much as they help you on to your end, and ought to rid yourself of them so far as they hinder you as to it.

For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.

Principle and Foundation

Much of Christianity is unhealthy; much of Christian spirituality is unhealthy; much of Christianity does not reflect the joyful, positive life and person of Jesus; there is an unhealthy thread of fleeing the world (God’s good creation) in many (most?) religions – Christianity included. Pope Francis is right to remind us that this conflicts with God as the creator of all.

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