By Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, October 19, 2016
Two weeks ago, Bondings 2.0 reported on the story of two former nuns in Italy who joined together in a civil union, noting that the lesbian couple expressed their commitment not only to one another, but to their Catholic faith. A few more details have emerged from that story which make it even a more poignant tale.
The headline -grabbing follow-up was that the pope has seemingly expressed some sadness about the couple. London’s Daily Mail reported that a Vatican official disclosed in a tweet that the pope was was downcast when told the news about the women. Vatican Deputy Secretary of State Archbishop Angelo Becciu tweeted:
“How much sadness on the pope’s face when I read him the news of the two married ‘nuns’!’ ” (This is a translation of the tweet which was originally written in Italian: “Quanta tristezza sul volto del Papa quando gli ho letto la notizia delle due ‘suore’ spose!”)
The news story further explained that it was the pope’s famous “Who am I to judge?” remark which inspired the two women (for privacy’s sake, known only by their first names Federica and Isabel) to see their feelings from one another as a graced phenomenon, or, in their words “a gift from God. The story reported:
“The couple revealed they decided to act on their feelings when Pope Francis encouraged those in the Catholic Church not to judge others. . . .
“The two nuns said: ‘That phrase has opened our hearts.’
“They took advantage of a law passed this year that offers homosexual couples legal recognition in Italy – one of the last countries in the West to do so.”
The tweet from Becciu is irresponsible because of the vagueness of the message. Did the pope speak any words? Was he sad because the women had left religious life? Because they were lesbians? Because they entered a civil union? Because their union was public?
Was Becciu counting on the fact that his audience would “know” why the pope’s face showed sadness? Was he counting on relying on his followers’ negative opinions about civil unions for lesbian and gay people? Why did he call them “nuns,” and put that word in scare quotes, when it was obvious that they were former nuns?
If the pope had something to say on the matter, why didn’t he do so in an official statement instead of through ambiguous facial expressions? If his facial expressions were not an official statement, why did the Vatican Deputy Secretary of State feel empowered to suggest that they might be by tweeting such news?
Our Church really needs better communications.
On a happy note, though, it is so nice to hear that among the many things that the “Who am I to judge?” remark has prompted, it has also prompted a faith-filled, committed love between two women.