In The New Silk Roads there is an interesting discussion about the way religions evolved in response to state power and competition from other belief systems. He shows how Buddhism began to emphasise external worship and imagery only after coming into contact with the Cult of Apollo. Zoroastrianism linked itself to a resurgent Persian national identity and evolved to meet the needs of an expanding centralised state. Everywhere, the story is how religions fought to stay relevant in the face of intense competition from other belief systems.
This came to mind when I read about Pope Francis’ recent comments in support of civil unions for same-sex couples. The quote is from a new documentary, Francesco:
“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”
After two thousand years, the Catholic Church appears to still have some flexibility left in its creaking bones.