Why has the church of Rome changed its position on issues like the fate of suicides or unbaptized babies? Why is the Vatican currently poised to lift restrictions on receiving communion for Catholics who openly flout church teaching on divorce, abortion, &c.?
The face-saving explanation is that, somehow, this reflects a greater understanding of human nature than we had in the past. But there's a more plausible explanation.
Back when the church of Rome has a religious monopoly in Western Europe, when it was the state religion, when it had the patronage of the ruling class, when it was a crime to buck the religious system, Rome could get away with taking unpopular positions. It's like a company town where you have to buy overpriced goods from the company store. That's the only store in town.
But with the loss of Rome's hegemony, it's becoming a Pander Bear. Pope Francis is like a Catholic Joel Osteen or Robert Schuller. Inclusion. Happy-talk.
Catholic apologists have touted Rome holding the line on issues like contraception, unlike those compromising Protestant denominations. But if Rome keeps softening its position, where will that leave the argument?