Pope Francis would have made a masterful politician. He is quite proficient in the art of double talk. Currently, he is trying to use the age-old trick of saying that he does not judge or “marginalize” gay people, even though he also does not believe that they deserve equal rights.
These statements are very common among conservative Christians. After all, with the exception of a few extremist groups like the Westboro Baptist Church, very few Christian individuals or institutions will actually say that they hate gay people. However, it is important to look at how they actually act toward gay people. And in this context, I am not referring to how they interact on a day-to-day basis with all of the gay friends that they like to use to deflect allegations of homophobia. I am referring to the policies they support and their statements about gay people. As various news outlets have documented, Francis has in the past called gay marriage satanic and called gay adoption a form of discrimination against children. It is important to note that these are not simply Francis’s personal religious views. He has called for them to be the law. When Argentina was discussing legalizing gay marriage and adoption, Francis publicly opposed it. It is important to remember that because sexual orientation is innate, it is a fundamental part of who someone is. A person’s sexual orientation is not all of who they are, and it plays no role in determining their inherent value. But it is still a fundamental part of who they are.
Therefore, by denigrating someone’s sexual orientation, Francis is denigrating that person. And indeed, by saying that gay people’s sexual orientation should disqualify them from the right to get married or adopt children, Francis has denigrated every gay person in the world. If he had been content to stick with saying that homosexuality was immoral, I would strongly disagree with him, but I would not accuse him of bigotry so long as he still supported equality under the law. But as mentioned earlier, that could not be farther from what Francis has done. He has made it clear that he favors a system in which the government denies gay people major rights given to heterosexuals. This is not loving or tolerant. It is judgmental and bigoted. One could no more claim to be tolerant and non judgmental of gays while taking the stances that Francis does than claim to be an Anarchist while supporting legislation to ban flag burning. But because Francis is realizing that anti-gay bigotry is so 2002, he is trying to make his bile seem more respectable.
Few people will be fooled. The Roman Catholic Church is more out of touch with its base on gay rights than on nearly any other issue. A recent poll showed sixty percent of American Catholics stating that they would vote in favor of a law to make gay marriage legal in every state. And look at many Roman Catholic current and former politicians: Nancy Pelosi, Andrew Cuomo, Chris Gregoire, Dennis Kucinich, and Ted Kennedy. People who championed gay marriage back when both major parties opposed it. Unless Francis actually endorses equal rights for gays and lesbians, he will be risking a major exodus of members from the Roman Catholic Church.