Pia Wurtzbach relinquished her crown as Miss Universe on January 29, 2017, but right before doing so, the model/actress posted a message on a Time magazine website in which she explained that her support for LGBT equality was not in conflict with her Catholic faith.
Wurtzbach, a citizen of the Philippines, who became Miss Universe in 2015, wrote a post for Motto.Time.com, a website owned by Time which allows celebrities to state their opinions on whatever subjects they choose. Wurtzbach began by describing the culture in which she was raised:
“I am Filipino, and like the vast majority of people in my country, I am a proud Catholic. I have a steadfast faith, and my religion is an essential element of who I am. Growing up, my family regularly attended mass, and I studied at a school that taught Christian fundamentals.”
It was exactly those “Christian fundamentals” which shaped Wurtzbach’s inclusive attitude:
“Religious establishments including the Catholic church teach that they are the one true faith, but the values instilled in me as a Christian have encouraged me to respect all beliefs and opinions. Growing up, my family taught me that to receive respect, you must first offer it.”
Wurtzbach is proud that “the Philippines is every day becoming a more tolerant community,” but she also notes that “my liberal opinions on many social issues sometimes conflict with Christianity’s teachings.” Still, she holds firm to her opinions because they are rooted in her experience and her faith. Having been raised by a single mother, her childhood was one of struggle. Wurtzbach notes how her experiences shaped her attitudes:
“Perhaps my non–traditional family unit allowed me to accept others’ differences without judgement and has made me proud to advocate for LGBTQ rights as a Christian. In fact, I find the strength to do just that through my faith. Undoubtedly, there will continue to be times when my faith and secular opinions clash, but in those moments, I find comfort in an old saying: ‘Live and let live.’ “
But her views were also shaped by her experience of LGBTQ people:
“I myself owe a lot to the LGBTQ community, many of whom are my closest friends. Without their accepting attitudes toward my own flaws and struggles, I would not be where I am today.”
Wurtzbach has used her celebrity to help those less fortunate. In December 2016, she met with Manila’s Archbishop Luis Tagle to present the proceeds from a fundraising event she sponsored to be used for Caritas Manila. Tagle gave her a rosary blessed by Pope Francis.
—Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, February 12, 2017