Edie Windsor, the lesbian woman who was the plaintiff in the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court case which struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, has made a statement that she is “thrilled” with Pope Francis’ famous “Who am I to judge?”
Gay Star News reported on Windsor’s comments:
‘ ‘His bully pulpit has a great deal of meaning,’ Windsor said this week in an interview with HuffPost Live.
“‘I was in Provincetown, (Massachusetts), the day the papers said the quote of the Pope as saying, “Who am I to judge?” I went around people’s tables at the breakfast saying, “Did you see this? Will you imagine this?”‘ “
Windsor was especially touched by how the pope’s comments will affect parents of LGBT people:
” ‘Right now, it thrills me,’ Windsor said of the Pope’s words. ‘I think of all the serious Catholic mothers who felt freed when he said that – free to love their kids.’ “
Windsor is both wrong and right. While it is true that the pope’s comments will help many Catholic parents and families, there have been many such families who have already accepted and loved their LGBT children. The work of the Fortunate Families ministry has been supporting, instructing, and encouraging Catholic parents for over ten years now. Indeed, as we’ve noted before, Catholic parents of LGBT people are already some of the strongest advocates for LGBT justice and equality in church and society.
Where Windsor is very right, though, is in the fact that Pope Francis’ comment, as simple and offhand as it was, can have tremendous impact on the church. In addition to Catholic parents who may be confused about what their religion might say about LGBT people, many others in the church have been powerfully moved by the pope’s remarks. Back in the fall of 2013, we commented on how even though his statement did not change doctrine about same-gender relationships, it does have an impact on the tone of church leaders and can strongly affect attitudes of church people, which in turn will affect practice, and in turn, again, eventually affect doctrine.
What we do hope and pray for, though, is that Pope Francis will make clearer and more explicit welcoming statements about LGBT issues, and that he will encourage some of the U.S. bishops to do likewise. The October Vatican Synod on Marriage and Family is one step that has great potential for the pope to be more affirming. The World Meeting of Families, sponsored by the Vatican and taking place in Philadelphia in September 2015, will also be another one. If you are interested in joining pro-LGBT Catholic families as pilgrims to this event, click here, to see what the Equally Blessed coalition (of which New Ways Ministry is a member) is planning.
Most importantly, Pope Francis could do the church a great favor by speaking out right now against discriminatory employment contracts that several U.S. dioceses are enacting that negatively impact LGBT people and allies. And, as we’ve been encouraging for months now, he needs to speak out about the enactment of laws which criminalize homosexuality, which have been legislated in several countries around the globe and contemplated by others.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry