“If a person is gay and seeks God, and has good will, who am I to Judge?” These are the words of Pope Francis, custodian of the Roman Catholic doctrine, captured in a June 2020 FILM (documentary) titled “Francesco” shot by a born Russian film director and cinematographer, Evgent Effineevsky, currently based in USA. This revelation has gingered controversial reactions from people of all works of life. Many pointing towards the opinion that it is unacceptable blasphemy on the dignity of the church.
Is this the first time the Pope is addressing homosexuality?
The Pope’s recent comments complement a series of sentiments he’s expressed about LGBT rights in the past which sounded as support, but not a full endorsement of homosexuality.
In 2013, in the book On Heaven and Earth, the Pope said that legally equating same-sex relationships to heterosexual marriages would be “an anthropological regression”.
He also said then that if same-sex couples were allowed to adopt, “there could be affected children… every person needs a male father and a female mother that can help them shape their identity”. He however reaffirmed the church’s position that homosexual acts were sin, but said homosexual orientation was not. Maybe controversial!
Pope Francis was reported in 2014, to have expressed support for civil unions for same-sex partners in an interview, but the Holy See’s press office denied this.
In 2018, Pope Francis mentioned that he was “worried” about homosexuality in the clergy, and that it was “a serious matter”.
Does this mean the Pope has endorsed homosexuality?
A disclaimer has come from the Coordinator of Catholic Communications at the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, Rev. Father Tatah Mbuy, debunking the news that Pope Francis has endorsed same-sex marriage. He says the utterances came from a documentary.
This comes at a point where traditional and new media outlets have been bubbling in reaction to some of the statements believed to have been made by Pope Francis in favour of Same-sex Marriage, including that “Homosexual people have a right to be in a family”, “They are children of God and have a right to a family”…”What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered”.
So what does the Roman Catholic Church say about homosexuality?
The doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church teaches that those who identify as LGBT “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.”
Dating back to 2003, in a document approved by Pope John Paul II and written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI, the church doctrine held that “RESPECT FOR HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS CANNOT LEAD IN ANY WAY TO APPROVAL OF HOMOSEXUAL BEHAVIOUR OR TO LEGAL RECOGNITION OF HOMOSEXUAL UNIONS.”
This implies a somewhat more about unity in diversity advocacy. Looking into what connects people together and not what tears them apart. In other words, it would be the church trying not to judge and condemn people. But what exactly is is the focus this time? The Pope? His church? Or just what he said? We are prompt to wonder if his opinion can be disassociated from him or the church he represents!
Why is homosexuality gaining so much steam?
Scholarly and media attention to same-sex relationships ( relationships between partners of the same biological sex) has dramatically gained steam in recent years, reflected in the amplification of their voices for visibility and validation. In the days of old, same sex relationship was a taboo and perpetrators couldn’t show up their heads for any reason.
The last decades, have experienced a buzz in same sex coalitions, and in 2016, 7.3% of Millennials reported that they were lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (Gates 2017; Lofquist et al. 2012). The share of American adults who consider a same-sex cohabiting couple to be a family grew to such an extent that now over two-third of Americans include this arrangement in their definition of family (Powell et al. 2010).
The legal environment supporting marriages to same-sex couples has also taken a new turn. This is backed by the 2015 Supreme Court ruling with the declaration that marriage to same-sex couples a constitutional right in the United States. Against this backdrop, perpetrators of homosexuality are empowered to level up for. Same sex marriage remains an unsettled parley as interest continues to rise and more people audatiously identify with the practice and demand for inclusive rights.
What is your take on homosexuality?
By Beverly Ndifoin