LGBT writers on affirmative readings of Scripture have frequently used the story of Exodus and the escape from Egypt as an analogy for our journey from bondage to freedom, just as African Americans had previously done (for example, in the Negro spiritual “Let My People Go”). But when I began reading the excellent “Queer Bible Commentary”, it occurred to me that a more relevant story is what comes next: the forty years of wandering in the desert. (Allowing for some flexibility for poetic licence, it’s roughly forty years since Stonewall, one marker of the birth of the gay liberation movement). It was entirely appropriate therefore, that the theme for our fortieth anniversary conference was “From Wasteland to Promised Land”, which was described by guest speaker Daniel O’Leary not as a journey, but as a “blossoming”.
Last week I noted that in his visit to Brazil for World Youth Day, Pope Francis had not a word to say about gay marriage – even though this year alone, marriage equality has been approved in five countries, four states in the USA, (with more to come) and six in Brazil. Some bishops are warning that this represents the end of civilization as we know it – but it is clear from his silence that Pope Francis is not unduly concerned about it. There are far more important issues, more authentically Catholic concerns, that he believes we should be paying attention to. .
Today, he has delivered some thoughts which are more explicitly favourable, insisting that gays should be integrated into society, must not be marginalized or discriminated against, and should be welcomed into the priesthood. Welcome words indeed. There is in fact absolutely nothing new in this – it’s all absolutely standard, orthodox Catholic doctrine, which contains two parts. There is a compassionate side, directing that we should be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity, and protected from unjust discrimination, and from violence or malice, in words or in deeds. Then there’s the harsh side, denying absolutely any hope of physical expression of our loves in genital acts. The problem has been that many bishops, and the previous two popes, have ignored or directly flouted the compassionate parts of teaching, focusing exclusively on the harshest bits. Francis is not in any way signalling a shift in actual teaching – but he is introducing some sorely needed balance. That alone is welcome.
There’s a way to go yet to introduce sanity into the Catholic Church approach to human sexuality, for people of any orientation, but this is a great start.
Pope Francis: ‘Integrate gays into society’
POPE Francis, in some of the most compassionate words from any pontiff on gays, said they should not be judged or marginalised and should be integrated into society, but he reaffirmed Church teaching that homosexual acts are a sin. Continue reading Pope Francis' Gay Outreach