Pope Francis’ interview last week reiterated his July comments about gay priests, “Who am I to judge?” In light of all this, many Catholics wonder how this new pope will lead on LGBT issues and whether there will even be change. Bill McGarvey writing at America Magazine shares a story from his own life to explain just how Pope Francis might change the Church on LGBT issues.
McGarvey writes about making a comment to his college spiritual director about seminarians being “light in the loafers,” and the director after a momentary pause replied:
“ ‘You know, McGarvey,’ he said calmly, ‘you’ve been ministered to by gay men your whole life; you just didn’t know it.’…
“As I sat there, countless episodes from my life and the lives of family and friends all flooded back—from periods of darkness and personal crises, through life-threatening illnesses and deaths in my family, not to mention baptisms, confirmations, weddings and more. Was it possible that over all those years, God’s mercy and forgiveness had often been mediated to me and my loved ones through priests who also happened to be gay?”
Answering in the affirmative in what McGarvey describes as an “epiphany” for him then, the author concludes that Pope Francis’ greatest contribution on LGBT issues in the Church might be coming to terms with an existing reality:
“I would argue that Catholics are actually better situated than any group on earth to embrace our gay brothers and sisters. This is true simply because God has embraced us first through their ministry in our lives.
“No one has any illusions that Francis has changed any church teachings. For many of my friends and colleagues who are gay the pope’s comments were met with an enormous sigh of relief. For many others, like me, it was simply a welcome recognition of reality.”
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry