Inside Pope Francis’ statement on the family

Our friend Peter Tatchell writes from London:

Pope Francis has failed LGBT people
Gentler words do not assuage Vatican opposition to gay equality

“The Pope promised reform but has reconfirmed traditional Catholic doctrine on same-sex relationships. He has ignored submissions and appeals by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics. Gentler words do not assuage Vatican opposition to gay equality. Joy of Love offers a change of tone, not of substance,” said LGBT and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Mr Tatchell was responding to Pope Francis’s publication today of his new declaration on family life, Joy of Love.

“Only ‘unjust’ discrimination is condemned, which implies that some forms of discrimination against LGBT people are justified. All across the world, the Catholic Church is opposing LGBT equality and defending legal discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity,” added Mr Tatchell.

“The harsh, homophobic Catholic catechism remains in force. It states that same-sex relations are ‘intrinsically disordered’, a ‘grave depravity’ and ‘contrary to natural law’: ‘Under no circumstances can they be approved.’

“According to Vatican teaching, same-sex couples must remain chaste and desist from sharing sexual fulfilment, even if they are married or in a civil partnership. This is cruel and heartless,” said Mr Tatchell.

My comments: Holiness, you don’t seem to understand separation of church and state. This does not surprise me, but it does come between us. In my 38 years as a gay rights advocate, I have never said or heard any colleague say that any clergy member or house of worship should be compelled to conduct marriages between same-sex couples. Please provide a list of such incidents with as much specificity as possible, so that we can urge those harassing local churches to knock it off.

What we have worked for on my side of the divide is *civil* marriage, which does not interfere in anyone’s sacraments. The trouble is, your bishops do not reciprocate. You seem like a decent and charming guy, and I appreciate it. But my love and desire are God-given gifts, and my family is just as good as anyone else’s. The only difference is that we have faced burdens and obstacles caused by religious bullies like your bishops, many of whom had the hypocrisy and gall to blame the gay community and modern life for sex crimes by their own priests and their cover-ups of them. If anything is damnable, that is. So I appreciate and respect your pastoral efforts and your opposition to anti-gay violence, but with all due respect, that is not remotely enough.

The principle that guides my fellow advocates and me is carved above the entrance of America’s highest court: Equal Justice Under Law. Your organization has had half a millennium to reconsider its rigid, bossy position, and has not budged. If you wonder why the Church has declined in the developed world, look there. To paraphrase King Lear, we are more sinned against than sinning. I like you better than Benedict XVI, if that is any comfort. Doctrine aside, you actually remind me of Christ, which has not occurred since I was a small child during the papacy of John XXIII. But I cannot put doctrine aside, because people’s lives and happiness are at stake. If Mother Church would just mind her own business, we could get along so much better. Enjoy springtime in Rome.


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