It’s Not New, It’s Not Exciting
“OMG, OMG, OMG. Did you hear what the Pope said about gay people? Did you? DID YOU? This is a sea change! It’s so important! He’s said something amazing and groundbreaking!”
Now, please raise your hand if you’re, like me, getting tired of hearing people take a throwaway line and try to make it sound like it means that a man who has historically been a homophobe in one of the most homophobic organizations on the planet is suddenly all buddy-buddy with the LGBT community.
For those who missed it, on the way home from Brazil, Pope Francis held a press conference on the plane where he was remarkably candid about a number of topics. One of them was about homosexuals.
They say they exist. If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says they should not be marginalized because of this (orientation) but that they must be integrated into society.
Now, people have heard this and thought “Wow, this is such a change!” Hate to be the one who ruins the fun happy Pontifex Pleasure Party, but this is not a change. This is status quo. Let’s look at the Catechism for a moment. (emphasis mine)
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
In the interview, Francis went on to explain that homosexual acts are still a sin.
So, basically, what everybody is freaking out about is that Francis said that you shouldn’t directly be mean or appear to be discriminating against a gay person, but Catholics can in no way approve of a gay relationship and queer people should just live alone and celibate for the rest of their lives.
This is the same game that evangelicals in America play. They change the definitions of words like “love” and “respect” so that they can say that they totes love LGBT people while still denying their relationships social or legal validity and lobbying for the right to fire them because they aren’t sufficiently closeted. The difference is that the Catholic Church has been doing this for centuries longer and, quite frankly, are much better at getting people to faun all over them for basically saying that it’s not Catholic policy to overtly be a dick. Sorry, I don’t give out cookies for fundamental human decency, even if it is noticeably lacking in that particular organization most of the time.
Now, I have already been chided by my mother and other people that he’s brand new to the job, I should give him time to actually do something. The problem is two-fold. First, it’s not like he’s new to the Church. This is the guy who said that same-sex marriage in Argentina would destroy the family and called it discrimination against children before attributing the law to Satan. We don’t have some Pope who suddenly wants to warmly embrace the LGBT community. If you read the Catechism above, he wants to be nice enough to us that we will stop having relationships until we’re straight.
The second problem with the “give him time” argument is that if I’m giving him time to make any real changes, why should I celebrate this early in his papacy? Seriously, I’m supposed to wait and see to condemn him for jerking people around with political double talk but I can cheer loudly when he says absolutely nothing new in a way that appropriately uses the correct words to sound tolerant?
Everybody, it’s time to simmer down about this. As much as it pains me to say this, it really does, but I partially agree with Timmy Dolan that this is not new, and barely human scum like said Cardinal have nothing to fear that they might have to soften up their homophobia any time soon. The Pope is still the head of the Catholic Church, and that means that if you’re reading this, either storage technology has gotten really, really good in your time, or you will never see a change in Church policy in your lifetime on this subject. Don’t look for it under every rock the Pope decides to turn over for you.