It Looks Like Pope Francis Actually Wants To Move The Vatican On Gay Issues–In The Right Direction

popefrancisiPope Francis has certainly made a lot of the right noises when it comes to LGBT issues, most famously his “Who am I to judge?” pronouncement. But the words have fallen far short of actual policy changes. Until now.

In an interview that probably had the American bishops heading for their fainting couches, the pope suggested that the Church might actually be okay with civil unions. 

“Matrimony is between a man and a woman,” the pope began, stating Church policy. However, he added that “diverse situations of cohabitation (are) driven by the need to regulate economic aspects among persons, as for instance to assure medical care.” Asked if that meant the Vatican understood the phenomenon, the pope replied, “It is necessary to look at the diverse cases and evaluate them in their variety.”

The pope’s comments are intentionally indirect, couched in language that is best understood by lawyers and theologians. But what Francis is saying, in essence, is that understands people in relationships have economic and medical reasons to seek legal recognition for their relationship. What he pointedly didn’t say was that because those relationships fall short of the Vatican’s ideal, they shouldn’t get any legal recognition.

Now, it’s not exactly as if the pope just donned rainbow vestments and offered to preside over weddings at the Rome pride parade. Still, his language is a noticeable shift not just in tone (as was the case in the past) but in actual policy. By suggesting that the Church should look “with much mercy” upon its flock, Francis is moving the Vatican away from the hardline principles of his predecessors designed to punish to a more pragmatic approach designed to accommodate.

This isn’t the only recent sign that the Vatican may be softening its antigay stand. Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace at the Vatican condemned Uganda’s antigay laws, saying that “homosexuals are not criminals” and shouldn’t be sentenced for up to life in prison. In most corners, this would be met with a “duh,” but in the Vatican this is actually bold.

One more hint that change might be afoot: the Jesuit magazine America recently ran an editorial echoing Turkson’s condemnation. Perhaps more interesting, the magazine also ran a cover story that concluded that Pope Francis does seem to be shifting the Church’s stance on LGBT issues, though not its doctrines, with a greater emphasis on dealing with people where they are instead of judging them in advance.

Why does the opinion of one magazine matter? Well, America is the first English-language magazine to get an interview with the pope. What’s much more significant, however, is that the magazine is produced by Jesuits, which happens to be the same order to which Francis belongs. That’s the intellectual tradition that the pope is steeped in, and so the magazine’s reasoning would be one that the pope inherently understands.

Whether the magazine is right remains to be seen. Even if it is, there will be plenty of Vatican policy and attitude to find objectionable. But it speaks volumes about the sorry state of the Catholic Church right now that looking upon gay and lesbian people as people would be such a leap forward.

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  • Caleb in SC

    He had me at “cazzo.”

  • blondeboyz

    There are three groups that the LGBT community should NEVER trust.
    The Catholics, the Mormons and the Republicans! They will give lip service (for votes) and toss crumbs (for support) but in all actuality they have nothing but total contempt, hatred, discrimination and homophobia towards us. Stop falling for their lies.

  • Tackle

    So “the church “might” actually be ok with civil unions”. Then the next line, “Matrimony is between a man and woman.” Major fail!
    No thanks, do not want what you’re offering.
    The LGBTQ community is making great strides without the churches support. To fu#cing late to jump on the, (we helped you bandwagon.)
    Now go take a heavy dump…

  • ouragannyc

    @Tackle: I agree with you. We’ve done major strides w/o the Church. We don’t need the Church approval for anything…

  • ouragannyc

    @blondeboyz: Agree

  • sportyguy1983

    Interesting that he is accused of jumping on the bandwagon and called names but when Democrats “evolve” they are given high praise. Very interesting.

  • petensfo

    Can we please stop pretending this pope has the interests of gay people in mind… it’s simply not true.

    He’s the front-man and CEO of one of the largest & long-standing corporations in the world. He’s doing a great job with PR, as evidenced by idiot media pieces willing to find some hidden morsel of support amidst overall continued condemnation.

    It’s as though the gays have some kind of battered spouse syndrome- the Katholic Khurch Kulture represents nothing but abuse for us.

  • Joetx

    Sorry Francis, but people get married for a myriad of reasons beyond economics & finances.

    And civil unions are still second-rate.

    The State does NOT require the RCC to perform same-sex weddings. Therefore, the RCC should butt out COMPLETELY.

  • Joetx

    @blondeboyz: So you’re giving Evangelicals, Southern Baptists, & other CONServative Protestant denominations a pass?

  • sportyguy1983

    @blondboyz forgot to mention black ministers

  • MK Ultra

    Okay, fck this old Dude, and the whole establishment he stands for. Why people continue to praise and worship this game he is playing with the public is beyond me.

  • Joetx

    @blondeboyz: You left out Orthodox Christians as well. They’re complicit in the anti-gay law & climate in Russia.

  • oilburner

    Let’s face it he’s a lot better than the last pope . And for those of us who aren’t practicing Catholics let’s be grateful we don’t have waste an hour of our lives every Sunday. Not to mention if any of you have ever been to a traditional Catholic wedding [ I attended my friend from works last fall] that shit is like 2 hrs long and I was never so grateful that gay weddings were not held in the Catholic church. I can honestly say that is one place Iwowouldn’t have the desire or patience to be married in.

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