By: Michal Kranz
Could the Catholic Church’s view on homosexuality be ‘evolving’ just like Obama’s did? On a plane heading back to the Vatican from Rio de Janeiro, newly elected Pope Francis I told reporters “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” The statement came in response to a question about allowing gay priests into the clergy, which, according to the Bible, should not technically be a problem as long as the priests remain celibate. He also stated that the Vatican cannot “marginalize the people,” referring to homosexuals in general. The impromptu news conference on the plane lasted a stunning eighty minutes, during which the pope was reportedly “funny and candid,” and didn’t dodge a single question.
Earlier this week, Francis had visited World Youth Day in Rio, during which he visited various slums and prisons, blessed the flag of the upcoming Olympics in the city, and gathered three million Brazilians at Copacabana Beach for a final mass on Sunday morning. In addition, like the rebellious Pope he’s come to be, he made a point of criticizing Brazil’s elite, secular and religious, while speaking on the behalf of people suffering in poverty. All in all a good trip right?
In reference to his new statements on gays, Father James Martin, a Jesuit like Francis himself, said that this point of view is consistent with his papacy as a whole. “One of Francis’s hallmarks is an emphasis on mercy, which you see in that response. That mercy, of course, comes from Jesus. And we can never have too much of it.” To be fair however, Francis is still against the act of homosexual sex, urging his native Argentina not to legalized same-sex marriage in 2010, as the Bible states it is “an abomination.”
Father Martin is right on one thing though; Francis’s positions are quite progressive for the ailing Vatican Church he belongs too. He has also reached out to nonbelievers, a first for the Catholic Church, saying that God has “has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! (…) Even the atheists, Everyone!” Even though his statement was officially retracted by the Church the next day (oops), it increased his popularity with secularists through the world. On the issue of women however, Pope Francis regards them as integral members of the Church but is not in favor of allowing them to act as priests. The previous pope Benedict officially banned women from attaining priesthood in 2005, and it appears that the Catholic Church has not budged on the issue yet. And of course the elephant in the room, child abuse within the church, remains unresolved, as Francis, just like his two predecessors, refuses to take decisive action.