On Saturday, Pope Francis expressed a conservative view regarding the validity of families at the Vatican to the Forum Delle Famiglie, an Italian group for Catholic families. In a series of alleged unscripted remarks, the religious leader said, “It is painful to say this today: People speak of various kinds of family… [but] the family of man and woman in the image of God is the only one.”
The Pope’s statement was met with challenge and anger by LGBT+ Catholics who feel he is reasserting the outdated, traditional views of the church. The statement excludes not only same-sex partnerships but families with single parents.
Marianne Duddy-Burke of inclusive Catholic group DignityUSA said, “As a married lesbian raising two adopted children, I am reacting very personally. I hear the Pope as saying my family—and millions of others—lack sacredness and validity. That is painful and wrong.”
The group also criticised Pope Francis’ hot and cold approach to LGBT+ issues in the church. “We continue to call for the Pope and other church leaders to set aside their belief that they hold exclusive knowledge of God’s heart and mind, and to listen deeply and with humility to the ways the Divine is revealed in the lives of God’s people,” said Duddy-Burke.
Nearly a month ago, the pontiff made headlines when he reportedly told Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivor of clerical sex abuse, that “God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care.” Around the same time, the Pope warned bishops during a private meeting in Italy that any applicant to the priesthood should be rejected if there were any suspicions they might be gay. “Keep an eye on the admissions to seminaries, keep your eyes open,” Pope Francis was quoted as saying to La Stampa’s Vatican Insider service. “If in doubt, better not let them enter.”
Pope Francis was believed to be leading the Roman Catholic Church in a more liberal direction. When he became the leader in 2013, he stated he was going to “shake things up”. Yet recent reports show he has no intention of upturning Church teachings that promote anti-LGBT sentiments.
Irish LGBT+ Catholics started a petition for the Pope to change the “insulting” language taught by the Church and in Catholic literature.
“Anything Pope Francis says has implications far beyond his immediate audience … [His comments] are used by some to justify discrimination towards families and individuals they do not understand,” said Duddy-Burke.
The World Meeting of Families will be hosted in Dublin this August. Pope Francis will attend various events and deliver sermons throughout his visit. He’s also expected to meet with survivors of clerical sex abuse. The meeting has sparked controversy after a picture of a same-sex couple was removed from a booklet sent to parishes.
Speaking of the meeting, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “The Government is very much of the view that there are many different types of families and that all types should be celebrated, including the traditional nuclear family with the man married to the woman with children, but also one-parent families, families led by grandparents, and families led by same-sex couples.
“We will make it known in our meetings with the organisers that in line with our commitment to personal liberty and equality before the law, the Government’s view is that families in all their forms should be celebrated,” said Varadkar in a meeting with the Irish Parliament.
A peaceful protest has been organised in response to the World Meeting of Families and the Pope’s visit to Ireland. The Final Mass is a free, ticketed event taking place in Phoenix Park on Sunday, August 26th. “Say Nope to The Pope” encourages protestors to register for a ticket to the event, then they are encouraged not to show up. The application for tickets opens online on June 25th.
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