Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pope Francis

First of all, let me say that I am not Catholic.  In many ways I respect the Catholic Church and have attended a mass conducted by Pope Benedict.  I also find the idea of papal elections to be fascinating and I have followed the events since Pope Benedict announced his retirement.  But I have to wonder like so many people, what will Pope Francis do about some of the most pressing issues surrounding the Catholic Church?

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a 76-year-old Argentinean, was chosen as the first Latin American pope on Wednesday. He will lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics as Pope Francis. While his selection may be historic, it may also mean more of the same when it comes to gay rights in the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis is a conservative who is anti-gay marriage and anti-gay adoption. He has described same-sex marriage as the work of the devil and a "destructive attack on God's plan." He has also said that gay adoption is a form of discrimination against children.

In 2010, Francis championed against a bill for same-sex marriage and gay adoption, according to the National Catholic Register.

"[T]he Argentine people will face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family," he wrote to the four monasteries in Argentina. "At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God's law engraved in our hearts."

He went on to describe it as a "'move' of the Father of Lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God" and asked for lawmakers to "not act in error." In John 8:44, the Father of Lies is the devil.

Argentina approved same-sex marriage in 2010, making it the first Latin American country to legalize the union, the New York Times previously reported. The country is also progressive when it comes to contraception. President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has promoted free contraception and artificial insemination, the Associated Press notes. In the past, Francis has clashed with the Argentinean government over his stance on these issues.

GLAAD President Herndon Graddick responded to the election of the new pope in a statement obtained by The Huffington Post.
For decades the Catholic hierarchy has been in need of desperate reform. In his life, Jesus condemned gays zero times. In Pope Benedict's short time in the papacy, he made a priority of condemning gay people routinely. This, in spite of the fact, that the Catholic hierarchy had been in collusion to cover up the widespread abuse of children within its care. We hope this Pope will trade in his red shoes for a pair of sandals and spend a lot less time condemning and a lot more time foot-washing.
Graddick also specifically addressed Francis' previous comments about gay adoption being a "discrimination against children."

"The real discrimination against children is the pedophilia that has run rampant in the Catholic Church with little more than collusion from the Vatican," he said.

Along with GLAAD, Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill responded to the new pope's election, saying: 'We hope Pope Francis shows more Christian love and charity to the world's 420 million lesbian, gay and bisexual people than his predecessor."

Despite the pope's prior anti-gay sentiments, Francis' official biographer, Sergio Rubin, defended him as a noble man.

"Is Bergoglio a progressive – a liberation theologist even? No," he told the AP. "He's no third-world priest. Does he criticize the International Monetary Fund, and neoliberalism? Yes. Does he spend a great deal of time in the slums? Yes."

In 2001, he visited a hospice and washed the feet of AIDS patients, according to The National Catholic Register. That same year he spoke out in defense of those less fortunate, contrasting "poor people who are persecuted for demanding work, and rich people who are applauded for fleeing from justice."

Some people believe that his choice of "Francis" is seen as a gesture of what kind of pope he will be.  Bergogloi is the first Jesuit to become pope, and Francis is a gesture toward the Franciscans. Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi has confirmed that the name refers to St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan order, often seen as the Jesuits' traditional rivals.

A Jesuit pope who chooses the name Francis seeks to be "the people's pope, a pope who cares about the poor, who wants to have solidarity with the people of the world," Chad Pecknold, an assistant professor of theology at The Catholic University of America, tells Melissa Block on All Things Considered.

At the Whispers in the Loggia blog , Vatican expert Rocco Palmo says that Pope Francis' name reflects "his desire to be a force of unity in a polarized fold, a heart for the poor, and his intent to 'repair God's house, which has fallen into ruin' ... that is, to rebuild the church."

That final phrase is a reference to St. Francis of Assisi, who legendarily heard a voice coming from a crucifix that commanded him to rebuild the deteriorating chapel of San Damiano.

St. Francis was also known for his strict stances against greed and wealth, and in favor of inclusion — an idea symbolized by the embrace of a leper that famously led Francis to reject the privileges he had been born into as the son of a cloth merchant in Assisi.

Pecknold says that for him, the name brings up two themes: social justice and a new evangelism. And he sees Francis leading the church into regions where Catholicism is on the rise, such as Africa, Latin America and Asia.


Coop said...

I'm actually pleased that a Jesuit got chosen and that a Cardinal from the "new world" (that's the best term I could think of) got chosen. Maybe next time it will be a Benedictine. :-)

Francis' positions on gay rights leave much to be desired, but it's not like he could stop what happened in Argentina. There is also a big disconnect between the Catholic people and the men who may or may not deserve to lead them.
Why do they think they can treat us like literal sheep? Clearly Christ as a shepherd is a metaphor

I'd like the Catholic church to recognize my marriage to a man. If it ever does, that will be a pleasant surprise. The Church is free to refrain from recognizing gay marriage. Ok fine. But it can't stand in the way of gay people getting hitched in the eyes of the state.

And dare I say that gay rights activists need to respect the church's official stance as part of the bargain? As long as the church doesn't interfere with government recognition of same sex marriages.

Organizations like the Catholic Church, NRA, even GLAAD lapse into rhetoric, posturing, and general verbal diarreah. Opposing sides don't debate each other or have heated discussions that end with a handshake. Instead they launch epithets at each other and blow things out of proportion.

silvereagle said...

I am not a Catholic, and speak as an outsider. But, I do not think the issues stated in the prologue to the posting today are the "the most pressing issues surrounding the Catholic Church." Certainly these issues are present as are so many more, particularly the issues surrounding abuse of children by priests, whether real or false. The diminshing number of active church members (not only in the Catholic church), the starvation of masses, the destruction of war, and the list goes on. The issues quoted in your article are of prime importance to a relatively select few, and not to the whole population.

All things considered, I think the selection made (in a relatively short period of time, only a limited number of votes apparently) is a wise decision. More luck and good speek to him!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't care less who was elected pope. There was no choice that would lend any help to the LGBTQ masses of the world. A "church" that spends so much money fighting civil issues such as gay marriage and female reproductive rights and what happens in the bedroom of those who choose not to believe in their doctrine, instead of helping the poor, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless (though I'm sure LGBT youth would be excluded of they did) - all the things Jesus charged true Christians with doing is a church that I want nothing to do with in any way, shape or form.
Peace <3

Peace <3

Mike said...

This stuff about the pope scares me...the end of the world... lol.

Pier Roberto Giannelli said...

I was brought up as a Catholic, and have kept closely in touch with the Church and the rank-and-file members as part of my job. It is a highly hierarchical, totalitarian organization, with very little sense of tolerance in the hierarchy. Do not expect any changes.