Homosexuality and the Catholic Church are oxymoronic concepts. If you are gay and act upon your sexuality, you are sinful and victim of a “moral disorder”, hence, you are to be condemned in God’s eyes. The same God who accepts and loves all – yeah, that one.
Traditionally, the Catholic Church and its head, the Pope, do not accept same-sex relationships. In 1976, Pope Paul VI went as far as to write a whole homily about it, outlawing extra-marital sex, making a special mention to same-sex intercourse.
According to Catechism, essentially the Church’s ‘how to manual’, there is also a precise difference between being gay and acting upon it. Homosexual people should be treated with “compassion”, but as long as they don’t have same-sex intercourse, they’re to be accepted. The second they enjoy their lives, though, they can burn in hell. The Church also gives the solution to this dilemma, because they are full of brilliant ideas, so chastity it is. Great.
In this optic, the forward-thinking Argentinian Pope telling a victim of abuse of the Chilean sexual scandal, Juan Carlos Cruz, about his sexuality: “You have to be happy with who you are. God made you this way and loves you this way, and the Pope loves you this way,” is understandably shocking.
Pope Francis is not new to showing a more open-minded approach to the LGBT+ community. In 2013 he responded to a question about an apparent gay lobby in the Vatican, saying:
“Who am I to judge?”
These throwaway remarks show a clear determination to make the Church more accepting to those who they have shunned for year, but how far can one man go?
The Vatican did not confirm what the Pontifex said to Cruz, downplaying it and saying it cannot comment on the Pope’s private conversations and, thus implicitly refusing to support his stance.
Add to that that, just days after Spanish newspaper ‘El Pais’ reported the conversation with Cruz, he backtracked on his own affirmation that gay men should be accepted in seminars to priesthood.
Where do you stand, Francis?
It’s impossible to answer the question without wondering if the acceptive remarks are just a well-constructed PR plot, or simply a Pope trying to pave a new path for an institution bogged down in its roots.
Under Pope Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church lost the public’s sympathy due to the Pontifex’s old-school mentality. Pope Francis was then much-needed to restore that lost ‘faith’ in the Vatican.
The new Pope, with his grandpa-look and kind words, stole everyone’s heart – and any positive statement toward the LGBT+ community just incremented that.
On the other hand, none of these remarks has received any further comment from the Vatican as a whole, almost as if they’re afraid to voice their disagreement. This subtle denial seems to always fade into the background as we all praise Pope Francis for stating what should be the norm in the 21st century, within or outside the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis is clearly trying to make change, but be this for PR reasons or because he is a decent human being, it’s still unclear.
To answer the previous question, we hope you stand for what you represent, which should be love and acceptance, at all times, not just on the odd day.