The Vatican released Pope Francis’s long-awaited document, The Joy of Love on Friday, a major statement on social issues in the Catholic Church and he made a strong and direct statement against the recognition of gay marriage.
Wrote the Pope:
“There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”
But more than anything, Pope Francis’s long awaited document on family life, released Friday by the Vatican, amounts to an exultation of traditional marriage while recognizing that life, in his own words, isn’t always “perfect.” Yet rather than judging, he commanded, the church should be a pillar of support.
Some two years in the making, the 256-page document known as an apostolic exhortation and titled Amoris Laetitia, or “the Joy of Love,” amounted to his most sweeping pronouncement to date on the social issues that have deeply divided his senior clergy.
The reformist pope often appeared to strike a pragmatic balance and offered no changes in church laws – either to the status of gay people or those who divorce and remarry outside the church.
Stressing that the world is not perfect, the Pope suggested that “the church must deal with the world it lives in, not the world it wants” and did acknowledge that same-sex unions exist:
Single women get pregnant, and need the support of those around them, he wrote. Children sometimes need punishment – and, he notably added– sex education. Gays and lesbians deserve protection from “unjust discrimination.” And while he clearly upholds his church’s teachings of marriage as only between a man and woman, he notes that unconventional unions do indeed form. And they are not, he writes, without their “constructive elements.”
The Pope’s statements on gays will continue to be debated, the paper writes, because some will see a purposeful ambiguity:
After praising Christian marriage as being “fully realized in the union between a man and a woman…” he write that “Some forms of union radically contradict this ideal, while others realize it in at least a partial and analogous way. The Synod Fathers stated that the Church does not disregard the constructive elements in those situations which do not yet or no longer correspond to her teaching on marriage.”
There will undoubtedly be Catholics who see Francis as closing the door on gay equality forever while others will say he left it open a crack.
(image Pope Francis in Prato – Zebra48bo – wikimedia commons)