"The pleasure of eating and sexual pleasure comes from God," said Pope France in an interview with Italian writer Carlo Petrini referring to sex and food among others as gifts from God. He also urged people to enjoy them and not treat them as sins, as propagated by "overzealous" church leaders in the past.
The Pope's views on pleasure are just one among many in Petrini's book, TerraFutura: Conversations With Pope Francis on Integral Ecology, which is now available in Italy. Addressing the age-old Christian taboo subject - pleasure, especially with regards to sex and food, Francis told Petrini that "Pleasure is neither Catholic nor Christian nor anything else, it arrives from God and is simply divine." He also went on to label the church's past condemnation of pleasures as being a wrong interpretation of the Christian message.
Deadly Sins or Pleasures from God?
Indulging in sex and food, termed as lust and gluttony, are two of the seven cardinal vices—also known as 'the seven deadly sins'—that Christians are asked to be wary of. The 'indulgent' is often left guilty and condemned for partaking in these two activities which are in essence a part of a human being's primal drive.
So the question is whether the Pope's forthright statement can do away the notion of sin associated with the same for centuries by the church. Will those who have been ingrained in the idea be able to disassociate sin and pleasure, especially with regards to sex and food? The answer probably lies in understanding the logic behind the two activities and replacing the notions associated with the acts with rationale.
Aptly illustrated by the head of the Catholic church himself, "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."
Church's Acceptance of 'Pleasures'
Acknowledging the difficulties faced in disassociating sin from pleasure, the first Jesuit priest to become the pope, also stated that the banishing of such basic aspects of life "has caused enormous harm, which can still be felt strongly today".
While this may seem almost revolutionary and rebellious to some, Peter Williams, writer and Catholic critic said that this statement was not unusual for a pope. In fact, Pope Francis was just "rightly pointing out that pleasure comes from God." and was describing "the church's acceptance of human, simple, moral pleasure," Williams told Newsweek.