I was out of town yesterday, so I missed out on most of the hoopla surrounding the Pope’s comments. But having had a chance to see the raw footage and how people are reacting, I wanted to put it in context, if for no other reason than to sort it out myself.
Early in the video, Pope Francis says (in Spanish):
If a gay person is a person of good will who seeks God, who am I to judge?
Those remarks, seemingly friendlier to the gay community than anything a Pope has said in the past, struck a nerve with a lot of people.
What’s so striking to me is not what he said, but how he said it: the gentleness, the humor, the transparency. I find myself with tears in my eyes as I watch him. I’ve lived a long time to hear a Pope speak like that — with gentleness and openness, reasserting established dogma with sudden, sweeping exceptions that aren’t quite exceptions — except they sure sound like them.
Of course, the Pope still thinks Sullivan is a sinner. And even if he’s not judging gay people, surely, in his mind, God is.
The teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on this matter are not so different than what you’d hear from a slightly-younger evangelical Christian, which is to say that it’s not a sin to be gay, only a sin to act on your gayness.
While this Pope certainly seems nicer than his predecessors, especially on this issue, I’m not buying this idea that he’s doing anything different or progressive. He’s telling people to treat each with respect, regardless of theology. He said the same thing about atheists not too long ago (a Vatican spokesperson had to later clarify that atheists were still hellbound).
That’s a sweet sentiment — to treat each other with respect — but it’s not very radical. It’s common sense. And it says a lot about the Catholic Church that a Pope who stresses common sense is doing something newsworthy.
Now, if the Pope demanded that Church leaders stop opposing LGBT rights, we’d finally be getting somewhere. But that didn’t happen.
Remember: Pope-Who-Am-I-To-Judge had no problem throwing gay people under the bus when his name was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio:
In 2010 he asserted that gay adoption is a form of discrimination against children…
Bergoglio asked monasteries to pray “fervently” that lawmakers in Argentina did not go through with plans to legalize same sex marriage because it would “seriously damage the family.”
“At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children,” he wrote. “At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.”
Has he taken those statements back? Not as far as I can tell.
Moral of the story:
If you’re celibate and gay, you’re okay.
If you’ve had gay sex, well, have fun in Hell.