It troubles me, especially when I read hopeful, though uninformed LGBTQ writers or activists, suggesting Pope Francis is ushering in a new age of acceptance toward the community. It’s premature.
Pope Francis changed the tone, not the message, at least not yet. Catholic institutional misunderstanding continues, though it is now being tempered by a different messenger.
The current Pope calls those who seek to love, be loved, and join together in family “sinners,” but he won’t judge. You are no longer an “abomination,” the once often used and more negatively sounding label used to describe God’s LGBTQ children.
Pope Francis is a gentle, sincere man who is loving, humble and compassionate. He does not, however, fully understand the depth and beauty of LGBTQ families and relationships. The Pope should be praised for trying to change the attitude toward LGBTQ people, especially in comparison to the last two harshly judgmental popes. At the same time he must be pressed to go further.
How can loving someone, and wanting to have a life and family with another be a sin? Theologically and philosophically, the idea and concept of sin must be re-examined, but that’s for another column.
Good people unintentionally say hurtful things. Pope Francis is such a person. Accepting LGBTQ people as sinners is an unintended form of spiritual abuse.
In June 2013, Pope Francis responded in writing to a letter received from an association of gay and lesbian Italian Catholics. The gesture was unprecedented. It was reported he sent the group his blessings and according to a high level official Pope Francis “really enjoyed” hearing from the group. The group’s letter was respectful and sent in the spirit of Christian love.
If you step back and look at the big picture, the extraordinary advances made in LGBTQ civil and human rights occurred because of patient engagement with people who would not normally support such change. Long time opponents have “evolved” on the issue.
If you’re a Catholic, even nominal, consider sending the Pope a Christmas card. Currently, he is soliciting feedback from the faithful about current church doctrine. It’s an opportunity to be heard. If you’re a person of faith, though not a Catholic, still consider sending him holiday greetings. He has shown a genuine respect for other Christian and non-Christian faith traditions.
Share with Pope Francis how love, respect, friendship, partnership, and communication make a family, not gender. Share why your love is just as valid and blessed as found with a straight couple. Tell him there are key emotional and spiritual elements in being in love with someone who happens to be of the same gender. It’s a chance to educate him while spiritually empowering your family.
Include photos of any children you adopted and perhaps remind him of the medical and scientific studies showing how they grow up to be normal, healthy adults. Appeal to his heart, humanity, conscience, and intelligence. Remind him the Creator isn’t being asked to change, but Holy Sophia (Wisdom) the Holy Spirit is revealing another of God’s mysteries. Offer a heartfelt Christmas message from your family.
AIR MAIL – VATICAN CITY (ROME, ITALY)
His Holiness, Pope Francis PP.
00120 Via del Pellegrino
Citta del Vaticano
You won’t fully modify his way of thinking. He has internal politics to contend with of a conservative nature in a huge, secretive institution that does not respond well to change. Sending him a Christmas greeting and doing so every year, however, may nurture gradual, positive transformation.
Paul Jesep is an author, attorney, and a seminary trained, ordained priest in greater Albany, NY. His latest book, "The Vampire Benning Wentworth and the End of Times – the War Between Devils and Vampires".