Elton John Praises Pope Francis as "Hero," While Musician Hozier Critiques Him

Elton John

Famed performer Elton John called Pope Francis a “hero” in a recent interview, but that opinion is not universally held by pop musicians in the British Isles. In the same week, Irish musician Hozier harshly criticized the pope for poor treatment of LGBT issues.

John, who is gay and married, expressed admiration for the pope’s efforts towards LGBT inclusion during a BBC Radio program. Saying he would love to meet Francis, John explained per the Catholic Herald,

“I’m not a Catholic but from the first day he was elected he tried to bring a new message and change the Church and bring it into the 21st century. To be a inclusive Church. He has brought hope and change.”

John mentioned that Pope Francis was “fighting an uphill battle”against conservative bishops, particularly from Africa, who seek to condemn same-gender relationships. Saying Francis is an “ally” to more progressive wings in the church, the performer sent a message to the pope:

“Keep going, keep pushing it. Change is very hard, especially in the Catholic Church, you don’t get things done immediately, you’re not going to persuade people, just keep going and keep going and eventually the wall will fall. I think he’s on our side.”


Meanwhile, Hozier whose hit song “Take Me to Church” challenges institutional homophobia, criticized Pope Francis in an interview on Larry King Now, reported on by Ireland’s TV 3.

The musician said the Catholic Church has “an irrational aversion to homosexuality. . .[that] provides an excuse for homophobia.”

While Pope Francis’ more inclusive tone is positive, Hozier said there is a difference “between lip service towards something and actually making change.” The pontiff’s famous “Who am I to judge?” remark “should  have been said 100 years ago.”

This is not the first time Elton John has praised the pope, or that Hozier criticized the church. John called Pope Francis a “hero” a year ago during a benefit concert for his HIV/AIDS foundation and has previously said he is “excited” about the pope’s new approach to church. As for Hozier, his single “Take Me to Church” directly criticizes homophobia. In the song, according to Mother Jones, “Liturgical language is weaved into the lyrics but turns church dogma on its head—it is used to describe a lover” and celebrates sexuality.

Calling Pope Francis a “hero” for LGBT communities may be a stretch, but it seems insufficient to suggest all the pope has done is pay lip service to greater inclusion. The truth is somewhere in between, and the real significance of these stories may be that celebrities keep pontificating on the Catholic papacy at all.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

2 replies
  1. Brian Kneeland
    Brian Kneeland says:

    Seriously, what has the pope done for the average LGBT catholic? Nothing! He has a chance to do SOME good when he writes the final paper from the two year synod! I hope he at least does something positive!

  2. Tim MacGeorge
    Tim MacGeorge says:

    Should “Who am I to judge?” have been said a hundred years ago? Of course…it should have been said a thousand years ago, and it should have been understood two millennia ago implicit in the words and person of Jesus of Nazareth. But the sad reality of history is, it wasn’t! What, then, are we to do? We must recognize and live within the reality of what is, even as we work to change what should not be. Let’s stop criticizing Pope Francis for the good that he is doing. A candle may not be the sun, but it still gives light.


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