At yesterday’s General Audience, Pope Francis — greeting Slovak pilgirms, and apparently referencing an upcoming vote in Slovakia on same sex marriage and adoption — encouraged them to work “to continue their efforts in defense of the family, the vital cell of society.”
I’m not sure anyone — except the most extreme and unrealistic of Francis’ haters and admirers, both of whom seem to believe that he intends to upend church teaching any minute, now — would expect him to say differently. Over at Buzzfeed, J. Lester Feder at Buzzfeed notes exactly that but reports that the Pope’s remarks came just in time to hit a sore spot, as LGBT advocates have been charging the church with oversized interference in the matter:
It is not unusual for popes to comment on domestic political debates around the world, and these remarks are consistent with the church’s long-standing opposition to family rights for same-sex couples, which has not changed under his papacy even though he has generally sought a less confrontational tone to engaging with LGBT people. But his remarks come as the Slovakian church has been under criticism from the country’s LGBT rights supporters, who say the church is to blame for the recent push against LGBT rights in the country.
“For first time in Slovak modern history the Catholic Church is heavily involved in political campaign,” said Martin Macko, executive director of the LGBT rights group Inokost. The Slovak referendum follows the success of a similar ballot measure in another Catholic-majority Eastern European country, Croatia, which adopted a ban on recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples in December.
Pope Francis’ words touch the “sore spot” not because the church supports the initiative — realistic people would expect that — but because of questions about whether outside influences, including one from the USA, have worked with the church to funnel money toward the referendum. Posters using the Pope’s image in support of the measure have also appeared, although no one seems willing to take credit for them.
An interesting piece, worth reading. One of these days, I’ll have time to put down in detail some of my own thoughts.