Why Is The Vatican Okay With Unmarried Straight Couples And Not Married Gay Ones?

st-peters-basilica-vatican-cityIs the pope Catholic? Apparently, a lot of bishops don’t think so. The just-finished Vatican synod on the family harkened back to the good ol’ days of the Borgias in terms of intrigue and (at least metaphorical) back-stabbing. The main target was Pope Francis, who had the temerity to suggest that the Catholic Church may want to check the calendar to see what century it’s in.

When the idea of the synod was first floated last year, it seemed as if the Vatican might be very slowly thawing its attitude toward LGBT people. After all, last year’s run up to the current synod featured a devout, married heterosexual couple giving the pope a lecture about the importance of gay rights. Plus an early draft of the synod document suggested that there might be real progress in the offing.

So where did we end up after the 270 bishops were done their work? A tiny opening for heterosexual couples who live together on the grounds that their “lasting” and “reliable” relationships may eventually lead to marriage. As for gay people, a reaffirmation that we should be treated with respect, which of course does not extend to marriage equality or, for that matter, nondiscrimination protections. 

The synod’s tight-fisted approach to empathy comes as no surprise. After all, Francis has largely acquired his reputation as the lovable pope by changing the Vatican’s tone even though he shows no signs of disagreeing with its policies.

But even the tone change is threatening to the hard-liners, who pulled out all the stops during the synod. Rumors appeared that Francis has a brain tumor, implying that his judgment was impaired. An African cardinal said that Islamic terrorists and western liberal cultural  (including marriage equality) were the twin “beasts of the Apocalypse.” Another unnamed bishop said that the synod had the “whiff of Satan.” Thirteen bishops, including New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, wrote a confidential letter to the pope (promptly leaked) complaining the Francis’s decisions leading up the synod would not end up “reinforcing the dignity of marriage and family.”

In short, Pope Francis has his own version of the Republican Freedom Caucus in Congress: a group of extremists who are so focused on doctrinal purity (as they define it) that anyone who deviates one degree is anathema. Even the pope.

It’s not as if Pope Francis was ever going to embrace marriage equality. But even acknowledging the validity of gay people in any meaningful way is so threatening to a faction of the hierarchy that they would gladly take down the pope for his extraordinarily modest remarks. So if you thought change was coming, think again. The Church is in a battle among ultra-conservatives and not-so-conservatives. Whoever wins, it’s not likely to mean a lot.

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  • Grant Mealey

    Cause their conveluted and self serving …..oh controlling, bigots, morons?! Maybe they all have brain tumors??

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Obsolete men playing games. Christ would rip them up for their worldliness and fancy garb.

  • RobvR

    After the “nice” words of Francis at the UN this man is apparently nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s cloathing. The catholic church sticks true to the bible. It’s like hoping a nazi organisation will become less radical about jews (and only because more and more members aren’t so radical anymore) while one of the basic rules is………. right. God is love, but only if you submit completely to his rules. Submission would be a better name for this religion but that name’s already taken by another homophobe club.

  • Glücklich

    Reminds me of an instance early in my career when I worked for a HUGE oil company, a job I **LOATHED** and only took because I was offered it shortly after 9/11 – any port in a storm.

    I can’t remember how the conversation took this particular turn but someone said something about their son or daughter “living in sin” without a hint of irony. No one around batted an eye.

    It was the last straw on a camel’s back already loaded with palpable bigotry and shitty treatment, pay and benefits (non-bonused and it remains the *only* place I’ve ever had to ask for a raise), in an ugly office. I was, like, “I HAVE to get out of this place.”

  • Giancarlo85

    @RobvR: I’ve been saying that forever. The Catholic Church hasn’t changed under Francis, and Francis was critical of same sex marriage and even same sex couples for years. We can go back to his time in Argentina in criticizing the Fernandez government relentlessly after they legalized same sex marriage.

  • Andrew Button

    Homophobic hypocritical cherry picking bigoted scum

  • Robert Henninger

    It is the catholic church, not all churches or religions feel this way, Just go to another church and stay away from the Catholic church

  • Giancarlo85

    @Robert Henninger: Really?

    The Catholic Church is always trying to influence public policy… so no… I don’t think so.

  • AtticusBennett

    the same reason Bristol Palin can have two bastard children and her family thinks she should be allowed to marry, while ignoring that the bible says she should be executed via stoning, all the while saying gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry.

    if the vatican called out catholics who have sex before marriage, the vatican would collapse over one weekend.

    they call out the gay because it doesn’t affect the majority of their followers. we’re the scapegoat. “sure i sinned, but at least i AINT GAY” is the mentality.

  • Jim Guinnessey

    To be fair, the RC Church was born with schizophrenia starting with dogmatic Nicea and Chalcedon Councils in the 4th century, i.e. Holy MOTHER Church ruled by men,it’s highest concept of sex is virginity(Mother Mary conceived without original sin and husband Joseph just a pal!). Much of the Roman Vatican Curia’s statements on family and marriage make no sense coming as they do from bishops and priests who never marry and do not have any families (unless you are a Borgia pope). This recent synod of bishops just confirms how archaic these bishops really are.

  • alphacentauri

    @Giancarlo85: Very true.

  • NJPaperBoy

    RobvR erred in stating that the Catholic Church still sticks true to the bible. This would assume that a thorough study of the bible would arrive at the conclusion that it is against gay marriage and homosexuality in general. The gay aspect has been studied for many years by theologians who show that the bible is not and never was the code for morality. In fact, if the Catholic Church had stayed within the parameters of what the bible teaches, it would cease to exist as it is– without gross contradictions of bible texts. No matter how you talk around it, so much of Catholic dogma and belief is manmade and absurd.

  • Milton Appleby

    Why do we care? We know where they stand.

  • martinbakman

    Christ would chastise them for the billions in gold the Vatican has stolen over the centuries and stored in their den of wickedness.

  • cdndmf

    So listen, I think Pope Francis is a pretty rad dude. He’s sticking up for the world’s poor, of whom there are a huge and growing number, and no one else of any importance any where appears to give a sh*t about them. If you are looking to the Catholic Church to champion LGBT rights, you are looking in the wrong place. I mean, like, duh. They just barely got around to apologizing for the Spanish Inquisition.

  • RobvR

    @NJPaperBoy: I meant the gay issues. It’s impossible to stick to the bible at all points. Life would become impossible if one would. AtticusBennett perfectly explains describes why the vatican makes an exception for gays.

  • Joe

    Hypocrites will be hypocrites. Nothing has changed in the Catholic and never will.
    Why should we expect anything else?

  • GayEGO

    The Vatican is living in the dark ages so what they think is irrelevant in these times. If they don’t want to learn and change their thinking they will lose members and money.

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