Pope Francis’ past anti-LGBT history has captured media attention since his election, leading many to conclude this papacy will be more of the same. Bondings 2.0 previously reported troubling statements made while archbishop, especially an ambiguous record on marriage equality. However, some observers express hope that Pope Francis will be a pope under whom LGBT issues can progress within the Catholic Church.
On Huffington Post, Joseph Amodeo writes that Pope Francis may be “the gay community’s greatest hope”:
“…he is the first pope to be elected from a country that has legalized marriage equality. In this way, Bergoglio has perhaps witnessed firsthand how same-sex marriage has been a public good in Argentina…he may be the first pope who has any real experience in meeting LGBT people while also witnessing the impact of gay marriage — namely, no negative impact at all…
“In short, the pope’s desire to be among those most in need and those who have been forgotten by society should be a source of great hope for all of us. As a marginalized people not only in society, but particularly in the Church, it is my hope that Pope Francis will take this opportunity to extend a loving embrace to his LGBT brothers and sisters around the world.
“I do think that we may start to see a softening of language. This is a much-needed first step toward witnessing, appreciating and encouraging LGBT people of faith to share their gifts openly in service to the Church.”
Pablo Manriquez at Fox News Latino contemplates why this pope opposes same-gender relationships, and he encourages Catholics to initiate the necessary dialogue that could affect change:
“The Vatican’s current teaching on marriage and sexuality relies on a troubling gender essentialism rooted in the recent insistence that every child needs a father and a mother. This has become the church’s hinge argument against gay marriage. It is theologically unfounded and culturally dangerous.
“Catholicism is better than this. The faith has more to say about love and responsibility than it has to say about sexual difference and gender roles. While Catholics can hardly expect an institution as old and enormous as the Roman Catholic Church to turn on a dime, the Vatican is not immune to change…
“As Catholics, we should invite our new pope to devote more attention to gay marriage as a theological (not political or cultural) question. Ultimately, the question is not whether the church should accommodate the culture, but about how gay relationships fit into the mystery of God’s love for all of humanity.”
Whether or not Pope Francis is the LGBT community’s greatest hope remains to be seen, but Kate Childs Graham at National Catholic Reporter reminds readers that even just starting anew with any papacy is reason for hope:
“As I scrolled through my Facebook feed and email reactions came flooding in from fellow progressive Catholics, I noticed I wasn’t alone in my (perhaps foolhardy) hope…
“As committed as [progressive Catholics] are to creating change in the church from the ground up, we can’t help but hold out hope this change will be reflected by the leaders of the hierarchy. We can’t help but treat moments like Wednesday’s as fresh starts, as new beginnings.
“Or, as a friend wrote,: ‘This is the beginning of the beginning of a new time for our church. I can’t possibly know what that will look like, but that’s what we’re in. The beginning of the beginning.’…
“But in my heart of hearts, in my faith of faiths, I can’t help but hope that she is right.”
Let us pray that this hope will motivate us all to redouble our efforts to work for equality and justice for LGBT people in church and society.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry