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Pope Francis Hub



04/19/2007


Spain's New Cardinal: Homosexuality is a 'Defect' Like High Blood Pressure and Can Be Corrected

Spain's new Cardinal Fernando Sebastian Aguilar, chosen by Pope Francis a week ago, has quickly made it known how he feels about homosexuality, calling it a "defect" which can be corrected, AFP reports:

Aguilar"A lot of people complain and don't tolerate it but with all respect I say that homosexuality is a defective way of manifesting sexuality, because that has a structure and a purpose, which is procreation," Sebastian told Malaga newspaper Sur...

"We have a lot of defects in our bodies. I have high blood pressure. Am I going to get angry because they tell me that? It is a defect I have that I have to correct as far as I can," said Sebastian, who is the archbishop emeritus of the northern city of Pamplona.

"Pointing out a defect to a homosexual is not an offence, it is a help because many cases of homosexuality can be recovered and normalised with adequate treatment. It is not an offence, it is esteem. When someone has a defect, the good friend is the one who tells him."

Aguilar also said that Pope Francis wasn't accepting homosexuality when he said "who am I to judge?"

Said Aguilar: "It is one thing to show welcome and affection to a homosexual person and another to morally justify the exercise of homosexuality."


Vatican Denies Pope is Open to Recognition of Same-Sex Unions

Pope Francis has been lauded recently as both Time Magazine and The Advocate's "Person of the Year," with many citing his more socially conscious piety as a revolutionary stance within the Catholic Church. The Advocate in particular recounted the Pope's now famous quote as evidence of his, and the Church's, evolving stance on issues surrounding the LGBT community: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge?"

Popefrancis1More recently, however, the Pope said he was concerned and "shocked" about news of possible gay adoptions in Malta.

Over the weekend, the Vatican denied that new remarks from Pope Francis are an indication he is open to the idea of same-sex unions.

Reuters reports:

Francis, in a conversation with leaders of religious orders published by a Jesuit journal on Friday, said the Catholic Church had to try not to scare away children who live in complex family situations, such as those whose parents were separated and those living with gay couples.

Francis gave the example of a little girl in Buenos Aires, his former diocese, who confided to her teacher the reason she was always sad was that "my mother's girlfriend doesn't like me".

The pope told the leaders of religious orders that a great challenge for the Church would be to reach out to children living in difficult or unorthodox domestic situations.

"The situation in which we live now provides us with new challenges which sometimes are difficult for us to understand," the pope said, according to the transcript of the conversation.

"How can we proclaim Christ to these boys and girls? How can we proclaim Christ to a generation that is changing? We must be careful not to administer a vaccine against faith to them," he said.

Italian media sources claimed on Sunday that the Pope's words indicated an openness to legal recognition of civil unions for gay couples, with some even stating that the Pope explicitly spoke about such unions. He did not, and now Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi has said that the media's reports were a "manipulation" and "paradoxical" to Pope Francis's worldview. 

Lombardi said the pope was merely "alluding to the suffering of children" and not taking a stand on the political debate in Italy.


Pope Francis 'Shocked' By Gay Adoption

Francis

Time's Person of the Year has been lauded by many for what they interpret to be his more progressive approach to sexuality. However, according to The Telegraph, Pope Francis I openly encouraged Bishop Charles Scicluna of Malta (pictured below) to condemn adoption of children by same-sex couples in his Christmas sermon once the Bishop shared his concern with His Holiness:

MaltaBishop Scicluna met Pope Francis on December 12. The bishop later told the Times of Malta: “We discussed many aspects… and when I raised the issue that’s worrying me as a bishop [the right for gay couples to adopt] he encouraged me to speak out."

Indeed, the Pope was "shocked" to learn that Malta's proposed Civil Union bill allows gay adoption. And Bishop's Scicluna's controversial sermon seems to have been delivered at his prompting.

None of this should be surprising: back in Argentina, Cardinal Bergoglio roundly condemned gay adoption and said that gay marriage was diabolically inspired. But confusingly – and I still can't quite figure this out in my head – he did clearly back civil partnerships as the lesser of two evils. (When Archbishop Vincent Nichols appeared to do that, his critics in the Vatican were furious.)

Journalist James Bloodworth, in a new op-ed originally published on NewStatesman.com, remains doubtful that Francis is as liberal and progressive as some would like to believe and argues little has changed in terms of doctrine since Francis took the keys to the Holy See from Pope Benedict:

Pope Benedict was a PR disaster for the church. Yet under Francis little of substance has actually changed. The Catholic Church continues to vehemently discriminate against gay people and women, it’s simply sugar-coated its message with fashionable sound bites about inequality. And depressingly this has worked. Many otherwise erstwhile progressives have fallen into line faster than Danny Alexander at a cabinet meeting.

 We should, however, reject the notion that someone who can rescind the Church’s stance on gay sex, and chooses not to do so, is a figure worthy of admiration. Nor, if he won’t countenance women priests, is there a reason to suppose the Pope has anything of note to say about poverty. Why waste precious time worrying about anything such a person thinks?

Aside from the fact that we still hold religious figures to a lower standard than secular ones, the fawning over Pope Francis demonstrates something profoundly depressing: in the struggle for a better world, women’s and LGBT rights are still not taken seriously.  

You'll recall that earlier this year, Francis excommunicated an Australian priest who was a vocal advocate of ordination for women and gay marriage. However, as Time points out, the Priest in question was "already tagged for removal before Francis took office in March."


TIME Chooses Pope Francis as 'Person of the Year'

Pope_francisTIME has chosen Pope Francis as its 'Person of the Year' over these folks, who were also on the shortlist:

Bashar Assad, President of Syria
Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder
Ted Cruz, Texas Senator
Miley Cyrus, Singer
Barack Obama, President of the United States
Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran
Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Edward Snowden, N.S.A. Leaker
Edith Windsor, Gay rights activist

TIME writes, in its cover story:

He makes masterly use of 21st century tools to perform his 1st century office. He is photographed washing the feet of female convicts, posing for selfies with young visitors to the Vatican, embracing a man with a deformed face. He is quoted saying of women who consider abortion because of poverty or rape, “Who can remain unmoved before such painful situations?” Of gay people: “If a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge.” To divorced and remarried Catholics who are, by rule, forbidden from taking Communion, he says that this crucial rite “is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”

TIME explains why it chose the Pope in a video, AFTER THE JUMP...

DOMA plaintiff Edie Windsor came in at #3. Here's the TIME profile.

Edie Windsor wrote, in a note emailed this morning also announcing the launch of her new website:

“I am honored that Time chose me as one of the number 3 individuals in the top 5 nominees for ‘Person of the Year,’ but I am just one person who was part of the extraordinary and on-going fight for marriage equality for all our families. There are thousands of people who helped us come this far and we still have a lot more work to do. The gay community is my ‘person of the year’ and I look forward to continuing to fight for equal rights and educate the public about our lives alongside my gay brothers and sisters and our allies. Even without taking the ‘Person of the Year’ even being in the top 5 is an extraordinary way to end a year that has been historic for all of us and truly spectacular for me and gave me the chance to tell my story via Time through an interview and audio interview with photo slideshow. Thea would be thrilled, proud and so happy to see what we have all accomplished together.

A video profile of Windsor, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "TIME Chooses Pope Francis as 'Person of the Year'" »


Pope Francis Wrote To Gay Catholics, Offered 'Benedictory Greeting'

6a00d8341c730253ef019aff7cea6f970b-300wiPope Francis has earned high marks as of late for what many view to be conciliatory remarks made towards the gay community. While in Brazil earlier this year the Pontiff proclaimed, "Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord? You can't marginalize these people." In an interview with America Magazine he also added that the Church cannot "spiritually interfere in the life of a person." Now a report has emerged that the Pope received a letter in June from a group of gay and lesbian Catholics who call themselves the Kairos of Florence, requesting a dialogue with His Holiness. According to The Huffington Post, in their letter, the Kairos "[noted] that the absence of open lines of communication 'always feeds homophobia.'" The Pope's response proved somewhat shocking at the time to the members of the Kairos, though given the Pontiff's more recent comments, it does not seem out of character:

While in the past, the group's letters to various Catholic officials had been received with silence, the group was shocked when Francis and the Vatican Secretary of State responded.

Kairos member Innocenzo Pontillo told the paper Francis said “he appreciated very much what we had written to him" and "also assured us of his benedictory greeting.” In contrast, Pontillo said the Archbishop of Florence, Giuseppe Betori, had responded to similar letters by refusing to meet with the group so that he would not be seen as legitimizing homosexuals.

It should be noted that the contents of the letters remain a secret, and La Repubblica was quick to point out the paper was dependent on Kairos for information about the exchange.


Richard Socarides On Justice Scalia's NY Mag Interview And The Progress of LGBT Rights

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As we reported earlier this week, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia sat down with New York Magazine's Jennifer Senior recently for a wide-ranging interview that was filled with, well, exactly what you'd expect from a man known for his fiery dissents and come-at-me public persona.

Aside from a somewhat baffling and wild exchange about the devil (he's out there, according to Scalia, and he's decided to take on a lower profile compared to those stories you've read about in the Bible as a tactic), the justice raised some eyebrows when he told Senior that he doesn't know anybody who's openly gay.  "I have friends that I know, or very much suspect, are homosexual," he admitted to her. "Everybody does."

Scalia--as his New York Magazine interview makes patently clear, is a devout Catholic.  But as LGBT rights advocate Richard Socarides, writing in the New Yorker, points out, that very faith is currently experiencing a self-evaluation of its approach towards sexual orientation in the highest echelons of its power structure:

The most breathtaking development since the Supreme Court’s rulings on marriage rights, three and a half months ago, and the one with obvious global impact, was Pope Francis’ basic acceptance of gay people within the context of Roman Catholic theology—“Who am I to judge?”—signaling a turning point of historic proportions. A Quinnipiac poll late last week showed that American Catholics approve of the Pope’s new approach by a margin of sixty-eight per cent to twenty-three per cent. No doubt the dramatic progress we have seen in the U.S. impacted the Pope’s thinking.

Shortly after the Pope said that it was time to end the church’s focus on demonizing gay people (and its “obsession” with issues like abortion and contraception), Andrew Solomon, a longtime gay-rights advocate and the author of “Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity,” told me in an e-mail, “The primary obstacle to gay rights—and indeed to various forms of human rights—is prejudice and bigotry that have been encoded in religion.” Solomon believes, as many do, that “the Catholic Church was long set up as our most vigorous enemy, and it’s to be hoped, very profoundly, that this change in position will filter down through the Catholic hierarchy and make religion once more the champion of loving-kindness, and no longer the instrument of oppression.”

Even Scalia felt the effect, though he argued that it was a matter of emphasis, not doctrinal change: “He’s the Vicar of Christ. He’s the chief. I don’t run down the pope.”

Socarides points out the significance of such a shift--even if it is only in the tone of the church's position--and underscores its ability to have a lasting impact. Earlier this year, the association of American bishops wrote in an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court that equal marriage rights for same-sex couples "would compromise the ability of states to accommodate religious and moral objections to homosexual conduct on the part of employers and individuals." As Socarides pithily puts it, "So much for that."

Senior's interview with Justice Scalia reveals a man happily inhabiting a island of conservative thought that seems far removed from today's reality--it's incredible that he could live in our nation's capital in 2013 and know zero gay people personally.  But Socarides's point is a good one: as Scalia stands firm, history--and the very institution responsible in many ways for his opinions about LGBT people--continues to shift around him.

(photo courtesy of Platon for New York Magazine)


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