Equal­ity still testy for church

The Compass - - EDITORIAL -

There were plenty of peo­ple cham­pi­oning Pope Fran­cis’ re­cent visit to the United States. He spoke pas­sion­ately about the need to ad­dress cli­mate change, chas­tised Congress for fail­ing to show enough com­pas­sion for refugees and im­mi­grants, and spoke of a de­sire to abol­ish the death penalty.

As quick as peo­ple were to get ex­cited about this Ar­gen­tinian pope’s pro­gres­sive view­points on such top­ics, they were im­me­di­ately dis­mayed to learn who the same Pope Fran­cis met with on his fi­nal day in Washington.

Kim Davis is a county clerk from Ken­tucky who went to jail for five days for dis­obey­ing a court’s or­der to is­sue mar­riage li­censes to same-sex cou­ples. Davis has since be­come a hero for con­ser­va­tives in the U.S.

Although she’s not Catholic, a meet­ing was ar­ranged be­tween the two. Her lawyer told media last week the pope told her to “stay strong.” In a tele­vi­sion in­ter­view about her meet­ing with Pope Fran­cis, Davis said the sit­ting pon­tiff told her, “Thank you for your courage.”

A num­ber of peo­ple were ex­press­ing skep­ti­cism about the ini­tial re­port, but sure enough, a Vat­i­can spokesper­son con­firmed the meet­ing took place.

Those who ex­pressed doubts about the ex­is­tence of such a meet­ing per­haps failed to re­mem­ber they’re still talk­ing about the leader of the Catholic church. Same-sex mar­riage re­mains a morally du­bi­ous prac­tice in the eyes of the Vat­i­can, and Pope Fran­cis was al­ready on the record as an op­po­nent of such unions.

That’s too bad when one also con­sid­ers the latest pope has shown a more tol­er­ant side to­wards the les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual, queer and trans­gen­dered com­mu­nity than any of his pre­de­ces­sors. In 2013, Pope Fran­cis said he would not judge gay priests over their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

“If some­one is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

While some have cited com­ments like this as a sign of progress, the church con­tin­ues to dis­tance it­self from po­si­tions that rec­og­nize the LGBTQ com­mu­nity’s right to equal­ity in a mod­ern so­ci­ety that’s by-and-large com­ing around to that ideal. The church’s con­tin­ued re­luc­tance to or­dain women is another po­si­tion that fails to hon­our the no­tion of equal­ity.

The 1969 Stonewall riot in New York that helped launch the gay rights move­ment re­cently came into the spotlight through the re­lease of the film “Stonewall.” Forty-six years later, the sit­u­a­tion for same-sex cou­ples is much im­proved. But there re­mains work to be done.

Lead­ers who hold sway over oth­ers play an im­por­tant role in fos­ter­ing ac­cep­tance and un­der­stand­ing on is­sues like same-sex mar­riage. Pope Fran­cis is tak­ing some steps in the right di­rec­tion with his lead­er­ship, but it still might be a few decades be­fore we see any big changes to the Catholic church’s out­look on same-sex unions.

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