Pope Francis Hub




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."


Pope Francis Endorses Slovakia's Referendum to Ban Gay Marriage And Adoption Rights for Same-Sex Couples

Pope Francis

Pope Francis has been a remarkable change for the Catholic Church, particularly compared to his predecessor, but even amidst the calls for reasoned debate and 'zero tolerance' for pedophile priests and just generally behaving more like an actual Christian, the Pope is still of the Catholic Church and the Catholic Church is generally skeeved out by the very idea of homosexuals.

Slovakia will be voting on a referendum this Saturday that, if passed, would ban marriage and adoption rights to homosexual couples in the country. Last June the country added language to the constitution that banned recognition of same-sex couples, so the referendum will not be adding anything new on that front, but the denial of adoption rights is salt in the wound of same-sex couples. Enter Pope Francis who this past Wednesday in Rome said,

I greet the pilgrims from Slovakia and, through them, I wish to express my appreciation to the entire Slovak church, encouraging everyone to continue their efforts in defense of the family, the vital cell of society.

This comes as a mighty endorsement in a country that is approximately 2/3 Catholic. Confusingly, Father Martin Kramara, the spokesperson for the Conference of Slovak Bishops, told BuzzFeed that,

We would be very unhappy if [the referendum] generates any animosity against homosexually oriented people.

Denial of the basic right to marry and reduced to "other" status that is implied to be unfit for raising children? Why on earth would any animosity arise from that?


Pope Francis Holds Private Audience With Trans Man

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On Saturday, Pope Francis met with a Diego Neria Lejárraga, a Spanish transgender man. Neria sought the meeting because his congregation discriminated against him after his going through gender reassignment surgery.

The Washington Blade reports that Neria wrote Pope Francis following "rejection" from fellow parishioners, as well as a verbal attack from a priest who called him "the devil's daughter."

Human rights groups are calling the meeting a significant step for the papacy, including Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of Dignity USA:

For the pope to meet with a transgender man about to be married, and for that meeting to result in this man feeling more hopeful about his place in the Church, shows a concern for those at the very margins of our church...I hope the pope listened carefully to this man’s experience, and will speak about what he heard.

Others are cautiously optimistic, including José María Núñez Blanco, president of Fundación Triángulo, a Spanish advocacy group. Again via WB, in a statement Nuñez called the story "good news," but expressed hope that "the Catholic Church ceases to be a machine of hate and suffering for the good of believers and non-believers.”

This story is the latest news in Pope Francis' complex — progressive, but in some ways rigid — stance on LGBT issues.


Pope Francis Warns of 'Insidious Attacks' Against the Family, Tells Catholics Not to Breed 'Like Rabbits'

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Closing out his four day trip to the Philippines with an outdoor homily in Manila earlier today, Pope Francis railed against "insidious attacks" against the family in a thinly veiled reference to gay rights, the AP reports:

Pope Francis denounced Monday what he calls the "ideological colonization" of families and the developing world, where he says progressive, Western ideas about birth control and gay rights are increasingly being imposed by groups, institutions or individual nations — often as a condition for development aid.

Francis said Catholics don't have to "be like rabbits" and have more children than is safe or responsible. He said there are plenty of church-approved ways to regulate births. But he said most importantly, no outside institution should impose its views on families. [...]

During the Vatican's recent meeting on the family, African bishops denounced how aid groups and lending institutions often condition their assistance on a country's compliance with their ideals: allowing health care workers to distribute condoms, or withdrawing assistance if legislation discriminating against gays is passed.

"When imposed conditions come from imperial colonizers, they search to make people lose their own identity and make a sameness," he said. "This is ideological colonization."

Earlier in his trip, Pope Francis had warned gay marriage threatened to make the family "disposable."

A record 6 million people were believed to have gathered on the streets of Manila to hear the pope's speech today. Watch footage of the cheering crowd, AFTER THE JUMP...

In related news, Pope Francis is planning to address a joint session of Congress and visit the White House during a trip to D.C. this September. 

Continue reading "Pope Francis Warns of 'Insidious Attacks' Against the Family, Tells Catholics Not to Breed 'Like Rabbits' " »


Pope Francis: Gay Marriage Threatens To Make Family 'Disposable'

6a00d8341c730253ef01bb07ada0e5970d-250wiSpeaking in Manila, the Philippines, Pope Francis made no qualms about his and the Catholic Church's opposition to same-sex marriage. The remarks were Francis' clearest and least progressive on the subject since he ascended to the Papacy in March 2013. Not only did Francis speak of the need to uphold and protect “traditional marriage”, criticizing attempts to redefine it, he also cautioned against the threat of moral relativism and against “Malthusian” attempts to alter the Church’s position on birth control. Crux Now reports:

 “The family is threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life,” Francis said.

A Vatican spokesman confirmed Friday evening that, at least in part, the pope had gay marriage in mind.

In November, Francis commented that the heterosexual binary of marriage is “an anthropological fact … that cannot be qualified based on ideological notions or concepts important only at one time in history.”

Francis’ statement in the Philippines follows his remarks less than a week ago in which he criticized “legislation which benefits various forms of cohabitation rather than adequately supporting the family for the welfare of society as a whole.” In Francis’ eyes, this type of legislation marks the family as being “disposable.”

While some, including us here at Towleroad, have speculated as to whether Pope Francis is eyeing a more progressive stance on homosexuality and gay marriage, inspired no doubt by some of the Pope’s more conciliatory remarks towards the LGBT community, the Pope’s most recent statements all seem to be aimed at shutting down any speculation that he, and by extension the Vatican, is considering a dramatic change in dogma when it comes to sexual relations between people of the same gender. 

Crux sums it up nicely:

There was a widespread assumption at the time that Francis was backing the progressive side in that argument, leading to speculation in some conservative Catholic circles that the pontiff had stacked the deck to favor certain outcomes.

In light of the pope’s comments in the Philippines, those conclusions may have to be rethought.


Anti-Gay Cardinal Raymond Burke Blames Catholic Church's Woes On Womankind: VIDEO

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Grumpy Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the most outspoken anti-gay Catholic activists, has blamed women for the problems the church is facing today, reports the Irish Times.

6a00d8341c730253ef01b8d07fe14f970c-150wiIn an interview with The New Emangelization -  a website that aims to address the “man crisis” in the church - Burke suggests that Catholicism has become too feminized and argues that the use of altar girls and the women’s rights movement may be the crux of the problem:

“Apart from the priest, the sanctuary has become full of women...the activities in the parish and even the liturgy have been influenced by women and become so feminine in many places that men do not want to get involved. Men are often reluctant to become active in the church. The feminised environment and the lack of the church’s effort to engage men has led many men to simply opt out.”

Burke was in Rome last week to meet Pope Francis following the pontiff’s decision to demote the cardinal from his role in the powerful Apostolic Signatura to a largely ceremonial one with the Knights of Malta.

The cardinal was one of the most vociferous opponents of an attempt last October to introduce language aiming to be more inclusive of gay people and conciliatory on the issue of same-sex marriage.

Speaking at a conference on "the Catholic family" in Ireland last November, Burke said he would refuse holy communion to any politician who has been supportive of same-sex marriage. 

Watch Burke explain why it's "perfectly good and just" to discriminate against gay people, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Anti-Gay Cardinal Raymond Burke Blames Catholic Church's Woes On Womankind: VIDEO" »


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