Argentina’s own – Pope Francis made international headlines by actually practicing what he preached making a statement on how he doesn’t feel that he is in a position to judge homosexuals. Which is kind of cute because to most of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics, the Pope is totally in a position to do… pretty much whatever he wants to do. And while his statement probably won’t translate into a radical change in Church doctrine, it does represent a change in the general tone the Church is using when handling the whole gay thing.
Don’t get me wrong, Francis’ tone is modern and refreshing, but like any gay guy that’s been in Argentina for more than a day, I can smell chamuyo a mile away, and the Holy Father’s song and dance appears to be a nuanced take on skirting the issue of what to do with those darn sodomites. So let’s brush you up on the facts so you look less like a stereotypical know-nothing at this weekend’s impending cocktail talk.
As we at The Bubble (and by “we” I mean Luciana Diaz) reported when news broke on the Pope’s seemingly change of heart on the issue of homosexuality, he gave an informal response to a reporter’s question about gay clergy men, and said: “If a person is gay and is seeking the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
So what does that mean? The short answer is that no one really knows, but if we go off of what New York’s resident party pooper Cardinal Dolan is putting out there, the Pope’s statements are still in keeping with the Church’s official position to not judge sin, or at the very least not to judge the sinner. More specifically, the Catholic Church (and presumingly Pope Francis) asserts that while the practice of homosexuality is a sin, being homosexual (and not acting on it) is totally kosher.
El Papa argentino may have packaged this thought pleasantly enough with some kind sounding words, but he did not say anything that overturned the Church’s official doctrine which condemns any sexual act that doesn’t have reproductive potential within the confines of a (straight) marriage. At this point it’s clear that Francis is more open to dialogue with ideas and groups that fall outside of the Church, but this isn’t a new development. Back when the matimonio igualitario (marriage equality) was being debated by parliament here in Argentina, Francis (then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio) found a way to upset both sides of the debate by trying to convince the 100 bishops in the Argentine Episcopal Conference that the Church should push for civil unions as a way to preserve the sanctity of marriage. The country’s bishops voted that idea down real quick, and the people fighting for equal marriage rights had more to work with on the “separate is not equal” legal front.
The point is that clearly the man is capable of rational dialogue and has demonstrated a rare ability to compromise while still sticking to a very strict interpretation of doctrine. This does not mean we can expect that Church to open its arms to gays and lesbians, but the fact that he has opened a dialogue on the “issue” and has done so while showing compassion is noteworthy.
It looks like the Pope named after the guy who gave up his family’s money to help the poor (St. Francis of Assisi) could very well live up to his name sake, and start showing the world how far a little compassion goes. It’s sad that when the Pope said “people shouldn’t be marginalized” it caused the world to do a double take, but that could be saying as much about society as it does him, and maybe the take away from this whole thing is that even the most conservative entities are having to face the world’s big issues with a sense of rationality and compassion.
And that’s a hard thing to not be happy about.