A gay Catholic couple in Italy, who had a 2015 phone conversation with Pope Francis about their concerns over the church welcoming their children, have spoken out now about the pope’s affirming message to them in that call.
According to the National Catholic Reporter, Andrea Rubera’s shared about his experience with the pope as part of the documentary Francesco, which made headlines last fall when Francis reiterated his support for same-gender civil unions in it. NCR reported further:
“About five years ago, Andrea Rubera and his husband Dario were considering whether to enroll their oldest child, then about 3, in a catechetical program at a Rome-area parish. But they were afraid their child might be treated differently, or be subject to some sort of prejudice.
“When by chance Rubera was asked in April 2015 if he would be part of a group invited to participate in the pope’s daily Mass at the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse, the gay Italian Catholic brought a letter to give to Francis, laying out his dilemma.”
Pope Francis responded to Rubera with a phone call shortly thereafter, about which he explained:
“‘I think you should do it,’ Rubera remembers the pope saying. ‘Go to the pastor, ask for a meeting, introduce yourself transparently and I’m quite confident that everything is going to be all right.”
“The layman did as the pope suggested. His three children have now each gone through the catechetical program and minister as altar servers. And the oldest is preparing to receive first Communion.”
In Francesco, Rubera said the pope’s phone call was a “fundamental step,” helping the man to go beyond a dead end where he found himself. Although no subsequent communication between Pope Francis and Rubera has occurred, the gay Catholic father wrote a second letter to the pope, detailing the joyful spiritual development of his children as young Catholics in the church.
Bondings 2.0 previously reported on the connection the gay couple and Pope Francis’ endorsement of same-gender civil unions last fall.
The interaction between Pope Francis and Andrea Rubera mirrors that of a nurturing relationship between a local parish priest and their parishioner. Advancing LGBTQ equality through doctrinal change is, of course, needed to ensure greater inclusivity. But the pope’s taking on the role of a parish priest and listening to a lay person’s fears, offering encouragement, not condemnation, also engender a welcoming spiritual home for LGBTQ persons and their families.
–Brian William Kaufman and Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, February 4, 2021