“Progressive” Pope Francis

Posted on December 12, 2014 by

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pontifex_twitter_page_main_article_1363953193_540x540By: Jose Encarnacion

Pope Francis on October of this year held a two-week assembly with Catholic bishops also known as a synod discussing themes like homosexuality, divorce, and re-marriage.  Pope Francis stated that “God is not afraid of new things. That is why he is continuously surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways,” He also asks for a less rigid and more merciful Church as reported by the Huffington post.  In another article published on December of this year Pope Francis takes into consideration the bishops’ conferences around the world as the Vatican sent out questionnaires asking for input on family issues from typical churchgoers. The survey asked how the church could care for families with gay children and recognize “positive and negative elements” in heterosexual civil unions. Earlier in his papacy Pope Francis gave the general audience another reason to believe why he seems progressive, as he stated, “If some is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Well of course he is no one to judge a gay person, but does not say that God and the Church cannot. Nothing is progressive about saying hate the sin but not the sinner, this has being the traditional stance of the Catholic Church.     pope francis statements

To the general reader these ideas presented by the Pope and the Church can seem to show the slightest acceptance of gays by the entity. This Pope in comparison to the previous Pope, Pope Benedict XVI has been shown a lot more love by many and by the internet. This can be seen by the many memes and picture quotes that are circulating the web of Pope Francis and his seemingly accepting statements. Social media likes to condense what is actually being said into quick pictures and quotes. When rephrased cleverly enough the Pope can seem more accepting of homosexuals but in reality still be spewing the same ideas that the Church has had since the being of time. images

Looking through some comments on both of the articles presented, many people are applauding the Pope’s initiative to discuss such topics.  Social media also helps Pope Francis’s visibility with the younger generation and the LGBT community that perhaps upon hearing and seeing this tolerance by an important religious leader would be more willing to follow and hear out what else he has to say. The Pew Research Center followed the Pope’s online presence from March 13, 2013 to January 31, 2014 and showed that he ranked fourth among other international figures like President Obama, Nelson Mandela, and Bashar al-Assaad the Syrian President. Pope Francis received almost 50,000 media mentions during the time reviewed.

DA03D6A42E2B41CCBFE17AB7C7B4B8A2The love for Pope Francis may need to be reevaluated especially by LGBT entities so that they may not set themselves up to be disappointed.  In 2013 the Pope’s ideas seemed to be enough for The Advocate an American LGBT-interest magazine to name him person of the year.  It claimed that “Pope Francis’s stark change in rhetoric from his two predecessors – makes what he’s done in 2013 all the more daring.” Pope Francis is not any different from his predecessors there is no change in rhetoric, he is just more open about talking about homosexuality and sugar coats the church’s disapproval of it.  There exist far better candidates in my opinion to have been given this recognition for actually helping the LGBT community like Edie Windsor who fought against the Defense of Marriage Act.

The Pope himself even tells us that he is not any different from other popes as is shown here in another one of his statements, “During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.” He is simply saying that his non-judgment towards gays is not a new idea but simply what is actually found in the catechism. It seems that people’s blind love for this pope may not allow them to see this side of the ever so seemingly accepting Pope Francis as presented on social media and to popular culture.

To add to the Pope’s actual and traditional stance on homosexuality here is a far from comforting statement he made before becoming pope, back in 2010 when Argentina was in the process of legalizing gay marriage, “The Argentine people will have to face, in the coming weeks, a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family. … At stake here is the identity and the survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of so many children who will be discriminated against beforehand, depriving them of the human development that God wished to give them with a father and a mother. At stake is a full rejection of God’s law, further engraved in our hearts. …”.   Not so loving now, huh?. These do not sound like the words of a supposedly “liberal” and non-judgmental pope.

Pope Francis is not a reformer he is not “progressive” as the majority of the public and the media paints him to be. It just so happens that his homophobia is less evident and is sugar coated and twisted to where his words seem loving enough and apparently accepting enough for The Advocate to name him person of the year in 2013.  Perhaps Pope Francis’s less verbal homophobia as compared to his predecessors does show some kind of consideration for the gay population, but the LGTB community and allies should perhaps not get their hopes up too high for in reality Pope Francis has done nothing radical to benefit them.

Sources

Donadio, Rachel. “On Gay Priests, Pope Francis Asks, ‘Who Am I to Judge?’.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 29 July 2013. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.

Grindley, Lucas. “The Advocate’s Person of the Year: Pope Francis.” Advocate.com. N.p., 16 Dec. 2013. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.

Horowitz, Alana. “Pope: ‘God Is Not Afraid Of New Things'” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 19 Oct. 2014. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.

Kuruvilla, Carol. “Vatican: Bishops Should Follow Pope Francis’ Lead On Caring For Gay And Divorced Catholics.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 09 Dec. 2014. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.

Molloy, Parker Marie. “Can We Stop Pretending Pope Francis Is a Reformer?” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 23 Sept. 2013. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.

Spadaro, Antonio S.J. “A Big Heart Open to God.” America Magazine. N.p., 30 Sept. 2013. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.

“Media Coverage of Pope Francis’ First Year.” Pew Research Centers Journalism Project RSS. N.p., 6 Mar. 2014. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.

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