Speaking with Elisabetta Piquè of the Argentine newspaper La Nacion, the pope also emphasized that last October’s synod was not intended to address same-sex marriage at all.The interview, posted in four parts linked to at bottom of this post, is in Spanish (but there is a link in each section to translate the interview to English.)
The interview appeared just as an American Jesuit wrote about the Ignatian News Network’s series on pastoral care with Catholic parents of LGBT people in The National Catholic Reporter. Eddie Seibert used the synod’s more open approach to LGBT issues to encourage Catholic families to welcome their LGBT children at Christmas and to “Make the Yuletide Gay!” (More on this video series below.)
Gerald O’Connell of America provides a summary of the pope’s interview:
“Pope Francis pointed out that ‘nobody spoke about homosexual marriage in the synod, it didn’t occur to us. What we spoke about was how a family that has a homosexual son or daughter, how can they educate him/ her, how can they raise her/him, how can this family be helped to move forward in this situation which is a little unprecedented. So in the synod they spoke about the family and homosexual persons in relation to their families, because it is a reality that we encounter many times in the confessional’. So the synod has to see ‘how to help this father or this mother who accompanies this son or daughter. That’s what was touched upon in the synod. For this reason someone spoke about positive elements in the first rough draft. But that draft was relative.’ “
Crux noted further that Pope Francis referred to his own experiences with parents in the confessional while in Buenos Aires:
” ‘We have to find a way to help that father or that mother to stand by their son or daughter.’ “
The pope spoke positively about the synod overall and said the ongoing process “is the journey that God asks of us” so he does not fear criticism or debates. More broadly, Pope Francis said his efforts at reform would be “slow” and “complex,” and that he is glad resistance is finally out in the open.
In recognizing the difficulties of Catholic parents with LGBT children, Pope Francis echoes the voice of an Australian lay couple who spoke at the synod and have now called for greater lay leadership in a recent piece for The Tablet. At the synod, Ron and Mavis Pirola used the example of welcoming a gay son and his partner to a family Christmas dinner to illustrate the power of family bonds.
The strength of family bonds is illustrated powerfully by Ignatian News Network in the latest installment of their ongoing series about Catholic parents of LGBT issues. The video features the stories of Thomas Nelson and Javier and Martha Plasencia, who describe their experiences of loving and accepting their gay sons. Eddie Siebert, SJ introduced the latest video in a blog post at the National Catholic Reporter, and you can watch the parents’ powerful testimonies of love and faith in the video embedded in that article.
The episode is the second part of an examination of Catholic parents of LGBT people . The first installment, which features Linda Karle-Nelson and Joanne Weyant, can be viewed here:
Seibert summarized his blog post introducing the video by calling for the entire church to emulate these parents’ attitudes and actions:
“So, Christmas is coming. Some of you may be asking the same question the Pirolas asked the bishops…With the amount of division that exists in the world, I pray this holiday season that the messiness of being a human and having a family is something we can find grace in, not judgment and isolation. I pray that if we have the opportunity to welcome someone or turn them away, we choose to welcome. Finally, I pray we remember God doesn’t make mistakes when he creates and nothing can take away our innate dignity — even if we don’t always recognize it.”
Ignatian News Network has been involved in a larger project of examining the topic of LGBT people and the Catholic Church. You can read about the debut installment by clicking here.
As Bondings 2.0 has written on several occasions, parents are often the most powerful and effective advocates for LGBT justice in the Catholic Church. Their love their children and their commitment to make the church a better place for them are powerful forces. It is refreshing to hear Pope Francis listening to parents, including the Pirolas, but also those he met while offering pastoral care in Argentina. What will be even more meaningful are concrete changes in practice to make greater inclusion and welcome practical realities in homes and in parishes.
For the full interview with Pope Francis provided in Spanish by La Nacion, use the links provided below:
- “Francis: God gives me a healthy dose of unconsciousness“
- “The synod on the family: The divorced and remarried seem excommunicated“
- “The country has to reach the end of the term in peace“
- “Change in the Swiss Guard“
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry