What the Pope said was depressing not liberating

Here’s what the Pope said today according to the BBC:

Pope Francis said gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten.

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well,” Pope Francis said in a wide-ranging 80-minute long interview with Vatican journalists.

“It says they should not be marginalised because of this but that they must be integrated into society.”

But he condemned what he described as lobbying by gay people.

“The problem is not having this orientation,” he said. “We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worse problem.”

Well, we might have a slight change in tone from Benedict but this is a depressing statement not a liberating one.

There’s nothing new here that is helpful and something that really isn’t.

The bits that are not new simply follow the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church Sections 2357-2359

The bit that is depressing is the suggestion that gay lobbying is the real problem. In other words, gay people exist but shouldn’t do anything about their lives, should not advocate a better world for gay people, try to improve the lot of gay people nor try to save the lives of gay people in parts of the world where they are under threat.

This is nasty stuff and I’m sorry to hear it.

I’m even more sorry that the headlines that this has engendered will make people think there is hope when there isn’t really much hope to be had.

Today the pope made an oppresive statement about gay people and the world’s media is reporting it as a great step forward for gay rights.

Tell me, is saying bad things in a nice way better than saying the same old things in the same old way?

I don’t think it is.

And while we are at it, note that he condemned political lobbying. That’s chilling for different reasons.

Of course, all this was in the context of being asked about the Vatican. (The existence of a “gay lobby” in the Vatican is currently much under discussion). All the same, these words are damaging words that will be read far from their original context. They do nothing to bring in the kind of world I hope for.


  1. Lorenzo says

    Amen. We must not be shunned. How much of an advance is that?

  2. `Forgiven’ is for wrongdoings. Not good enough, right there.

    Agreed, the rest is dire, too.

    Best leave it there lest I say what I really think.

  3. Augur Pearce says

    So much for the media. Not unlike their reporting of the General Assembly of the C of S.

  4. Thoroughly depressing. Despite the apparently more benevolent tone, the subtext is the same old one.

  5. I agree – same old, same old. People who consider the words as offering new hope read into them what they want to hear, rather than what the pope said.

  6. I think you are right on one level about the Pope. He could always have said more, but the truth is also the fact that he acknowledged that there are gay people, that they could have a continuing life in the church (albeit under certain conditions) is vastly differently from the pontificate of JPII who felt that he had the right to say that homosexual protagonists could be refused communion. And indeed the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney (amongst others) has done so.
    We could wish for more from the Pope, but given the body of electors (even the field of candidates) we were never going to get Che Guevara or Christopher Isherwood.
    I suspect that we will see a gradual change on a whole range of issues over a long period of time ……which is rather different from the reverse process that we saw under Rowan Williams

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