Despite Pope Progress, American Catholic Institutions Still Struggling With LGBTQ Issues
The Advocate named Pope Francis their Person of the Year yesterday, citing him as “the single most influential person of 2013 on the lives of LGBT people.” It is well-known, as with many other institutions, the Catholic church has been under scrutiny for its steadfast opposition to LGBTQ progress. Pope Francis is not progressive on LGBTQ issues by activists standards, but judging by recent and past headlines coming out of the lower rungs of the church, he is progressive for LGBTQ Catholics when compared to prior pontiffs.
“If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?” the Pope said about gay priests.
Things aren’t all so squeaky clean across the board in the largest individual Christian denomination in America. LGBTQ Nation reported that there was widespread backlash at a Pennsylvania Catholic school, when they claim they “had no choice” but to fire a gay teacher. Echoing many open-minded Catholics, and describing a community of them, recent alum of the Holy Ghost Preparatory School Rob Blackwell said “It is a shame that the students and faculty are being painted a certain way, because it is apparent with the amount of support Mr. Griffin has received, this is not the popular mentality.”
A little further west, basically the entire middle-leadership of the church in Indiana wrote an open letter declaring that the state had no place in defining marriage, which LGBTQ nation reports is an effort to make sure Catholic voters aren’t “guided by polls” (those tend to be progressive, over time). This was in response, or supplementary to the proposed same-sex marriage ban to the state’s constitution.
“It is not within the power of either the Church or the State to redefine marriage since God is its author. Male-female complementarity is essential to marriage. Marriage is a “unique” (sic) communion of persons with the potential to bring forth human life.” The letter stated. Six bishops signed off on it, including the Archbishop of Indianapolis, the biggest archdiocese in the state.
This can be summed up as the bishops saying the state has no say, the church has the final say but we need you to keep it Catholic when you vote for ELECTED OFFICIALS.
As the Pope moves forward in the eyes of LGBTQ advocates and journalists, the structure of the church is not necessarily interpreting the Pope’s (own interpretation) of God’s word to be a message of moving away from its anti-gay tendencies. This divide perhaps illustrates that while the Pope may be receiving the good word, the middle and lower leadership of the church still have interests in marginalizing LGBTQ persons, or at least are stuck in their ways. And no doubt in some cases their constituencies aren’t as open-minded as that Pennsylvania community, the Catholic presence on social media that called out the school’s actions, and others. But the Church has shown over time, while crap rolls uphill, change comes from both ends and mostly the top.
The American Catholic leaders, and not God, still have a lot of say in how the church views LGBTQ persons in their communities, and their counties, states, and countries. This apparently will take more than a friendly pope to change.
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