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.

White Smoke

Love and prayers to friends in the Roman Catholic church on the election of the new pope. It was lovely to see the people in Rome greet him.

The airwaves are going to be full of speculation about what he will be like and full of things he has said in the past. The truth is, there is no knowing whether how he has been will be how he will be. It just doesn’t always work like that. Things happen.

It is interesting to think about there being a Jesuit pope. Like many an Anglican I’ve received quite a lot from the Jesuits – in my case, retreats, spiritual direction, methods of prayer, friendship and massage. I’ve found most Jesuits I’ve encountered to be intelligent, funny and purposeful. They also are formed in quite a distinctive way spiritually. This pope is likely to think things through quite differently to some popes just because of that. It will be fascinating to see how it all pans out.

He appeared to be a calm man and that will surely be needed. It was good to see someone call the people gathered in Rome to pray as his first act. He seemed to call us all to pray, Roman Catholics and others alike. Let us hope that he is indeed the great bridge builder (pontifex maximus).

We’ll be praying for him. Just as he requested.