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Pope Francis Dines With LGBT Inmates In An Italian Prison: VIDEO

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Pope Francis continued to set himself apart from his Papal predecessors this past weekend by paying a visit to a prison in Naples. In an effort to further reach out to the public and reorient the the Church’s focus, Francis joined some 90 inmates for a lunch gathering prepared by the convicts themselves. The inmates were selected via a raffle from a pool of nearly 2,000 people including inmates from the prison’s specialized ward for LGBT identified persons and those battling HIV/AIDS.

Francis’s choice to break bread with members of Italy’s queer population is the latest in a long line of somewhat mixed messages the newest Pope has shared about the Catholic Church’s shifting stance on LGBT equality. While Francis has repeatedly fallen back on the Church’s traditionally negative views regarding gays and marriage equality, he’s also alluded to having a somewhat more even-keeled perspective. While Francis has stopped short of full-on coming out in support of gay rights, he’s repeatedly stressed that the Catholic Church’s energies would be put to better use focusing on being more inclusive.

Most recently the Pope met with Diego Neria Lejárragam a Spanish transgender man, who was ostracized by his church following his decision to have gender reassignment surgery. In an impassioned letter Lejárraga asked to have  meeting with the Pope in order to seek out advice about how to reconcile his gender identity with his faith and his desire to remain an active participant of the church. A month later, however, Francis made clear that he was only so tolerant of the concept of gender identity.

Francis seems to be at his most comfortable when he’s vacillating somewhere between old-school institutional bigotry and tepid acceptance of LGBT people. Disorienting as his mixed messaging may be, there’s a chance that his shifting views may reflect on his outlook on the papacy. While he’s expressed that he doesn’t “mind being the Pope,” Francis has also alluded to missing his former life as a regular priest. It’s unclear whether or not the Pope is contemplating stepping down in the near future, but his brushes with LGBT acceptance could be a sign of decisions to come.

Watch an ABC News report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Pope Francis Accepts Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien's Resignation Following Gay Relationship Scandal

Former Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the anti-gay crusader who stepped down in 2013 after being accused of "inappropriate acts" with other priests, and later admitted having a long-term relationship with one of the priests whose accusations led to him getting sacked, will play no further public church role, the Vatican confirmed today.

The Guardian reports:

O'brienO’Brien will retain his title, but he will be reduced to a strictly private life. The resignation followed the decision by the pope to send a personal envoy, archbishop Charles Scicluna, to Scotland last year to investigate the allegations.

Francis reached his decision based on the inquiry. Its contents are fully known only to the pontiff and Scicluna. O’Brien’s decision followed a private discussion with the pope.

“I wish to repeat the apology which I made to the Catholic church and the people of Scotland some two years ago now on 3 March 2013,” O’Brien said in a statement. “I then said that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me. For that I am deeply sorry.

“I thank Pope Francis for his fatherly care of me and of those I have offended in any way. I will continue to play no part in the public life of the Church in Scotland; and will dedicate the rest of my life in retirement, praying especially for the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, for Scotland, and for those I have offended in any way.”

The BBC has more on how the scandal went down here


Pope Francis Hints At Early Retirement: 'I Have a Feeling That My Pontificate Will Be Brief'

Pope Francis has indicated he may not be head of the Catholic Church for much longer, UK's Independent reports:

PopeSpeaking in an interview with Mexican network Televisa, marking the second anniversary of his election, he said: “I have a feeling that my pontificate will be brief. Four of five years; I do not know, even two or three.

“I feel that the Lord has placed me here for a short time, and nothing more.”

Referring to Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to become the first pope to step down in 600 years in 2013 he claimed: "An institutional door has been opened."

In the interview, Francis said that while he "did not mind being pope," he missed the anonymity of being a priest and being able to "go to a pizzeria for a pizza" without being recognized. 


New Film 'Owning Our Faith' Shares the Stories and Struggles of LGBT Catholics: VIDEO

Owning

Even with Pope Francis at the helm taking baby steps towards a more LGBT inclusive Catholic Church, there's still a long, long way to go before Catholicism catches up on sexuality and gender issues. 

In a new short film from filmmaker Michael Tomae, practicing LGBT Catholics and their allies share their stories and desires to see a more welcoming church for all.

From the film's website:

Owning2We want our stories to be a part of the discussion because LGBT people have unique gifts to contribute to the life of the Church. We hope the Church recognizes that God is working through our life stories. We want to inspire change that will strengthen families, encourage acceptance of LGBT people, foster an inclusive community, and promote an open and accepting dialogue among Catholics across the world. Most of all, we want everyone to know they are loved and not alone.

Watch the documentary short, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "New Film 'Owning Our Faith' Shares the Stories and Struggles of LGBT Catholics: VIDEO" »


Pope Francis: Transgender People are Like Nuclear Weapons and Defy 'The Order of Creation'

Pope Francis has come out against gender theory in a new book, comparing the idea that gender identities can exist along a spectrum to the destructiveness of nuclear weaponry, according to The Catholic Reporter:

Pope_francis...[he] says that every historical period has "Herods" that "destroy, that plot designs of death, that disfigure the face of man and woman, destroying creation."

"Let's think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings," he continues. "Let's think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation."

"With this attitude, man commits a new sin, that against God the Creator," the pope says. "The true custody of creation does not have anything to do with the ideologies that consider man like an accident, like a problem to eliminate."

"God has placed man and woman and the summit of creation and has entrusted them with the earth," Francis says. "The design of the Creator is written in nature."

The book, Pope Francis: This Economy Kills, "recounts and analyzes the discourses, documents and interventions of the pope on the themes of poverty, immigration, social justice, and safeguarding of creation" according to the paper.

Pope Francis met with a transgender man in late January. The man had written the pontiff after being rejected by fellow parishioners. The meeting was seen as a significant gesture by human rights groups.


Gay Catholic Group: Vatican Welcomed Us With Open Arms for First Time

Sister Jeannine Gramick (pictured) of the American gay Catholic group New Ways Ministry tells Reuters that when she brought her group of 50 gay Catholics to an audience with the Pope on Wednesday, they were not shunned as they had been before, but given prime seats with all the other groups.

Reuters describes it as 'VIP treatment'.

Reuters adds: Gramick

They told Reuters in an interview afterwards that when the group came to Rome on Catholic pilgrimages during the papacies of Francis's predecessors John Paul and Benedict, "they just ignored us."

This time, a US bishop and a top Vatican official backed their request and they sat in a front section with dignitaries and special Catholic groups. As the pope passed, they sang "All Are Welcome," a hymn symbolising their desire for a more inclusive Church.

A list of participants released by the Vatican listed "a group of lay people accompanied by a sister" but did not mention that they were a gay rights organization.

Gramick sees the move as a sign of movement within the Church.

While Pope Francis gave signs early on in his papacy that the Church would be more open to gay people, asking "who am I to judge?" at an audience with reporters, there have been no official signals from the Vatican that any policies are changing.

In fact, Francis recently endorsed Slovakia's referendum to ban gay marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples, and has warned of "insidious attacks" against the family, in Manila, saying gay marriage threatens to make family "disposable."


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