Well the Pope as it happens, here he is - Jorge Mario Bergoglio or to use his stage name; Francis.
|Conducting a sing-along on the Papal plane, you'd think the Pope would use a proper plane though...|
By many accounts, he's a different sort of Pope, seeming to be far more accessible. He is known to eschew the frills of high office, wearing simpler robes and adopting policies that are more people-orientated. He's also from South America making him the first non-European Pope, he's also the only Jesuit Pope and Pope from the southern hemisphere. I think I've used the word 'Pope' far to often in the previous sentence, its beginning to sound meaningless - you know - in that way when you say a word over and over again? I'm also beginning to sound like some demented puppet from cbeebies.
Anyway, I digress.
Why are we talking about the Pope? Well this actually. Francis (if I may be so bold as to use his stage name) has said:
"If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge them?"
He then went on to say in terms of Church catechism:
"It says they should not be marginalised because of this but that they must be integrated into society."
Most gracious and why not? But the church's position that homosexual acts are sinful has been reaffirmed:
Deputy Editor of Catholic newspaper The Tablet, Elena Curti said the Pope's comments were highly significant and progressive.
Speaking to Sky News, she said: "The manner in which he has done it is what's absolutely key. I mean the church has always taught that homosexuality per se, the inclination, is not sinful. It is homosexual acts that are the problem."
Putting to one side the caveats (you need to be seeking God and not engaging in homosexual activity) this sounds like a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, there are some proper throbbers representing the Catholic Church in the main stream media all around the world who'll take this as an affirmation of their more swivel-eyed views.
Gay marriage over these past few months has represented something of a vehicle for lobby groups - the gay representation have been using it to progress their cause and the 'church' has been using it to communicate its own. On the surface, the gay crowd want equality while various churches see it as an affront to the idea of holy matrimony.
As usual its not as simple and the effects are multi-layered. The gay lobby are looking to normalise homosexuality in society while the church (in this instance, the Catholic flavoured one) is ideologically & dogmatically opposed to it.
In terms of LBGT Youth, what the gay marriage debate has done is produce a chicken & egg situation. The gay lobby is pressing for equality in marriage and the church is resisting, but the gay lobby wouldn't be lobbying if the church wasn't so resistant in the first place and so on. Add in the subjectivity of faith versus the now fairly well accepted biological imperative of homosexuality and you have a real stooshy of a situation.
One aspect of these damaging after-effects is the clamorous negativity. The stinging criticism and dead weight of disapproval & disdain for a sexual preference that was never a choice made by young people - gay, straight or anywhere in between - listening or watching. Its difficult enough growing up with all the usual doubts and insecurities without adding this to it.
So, back to Pope Francis, here's a picture in case you've forgotten who he is:
|Pope Francis visiting the Large Hadron Collider.|
While his most recent words are a step in the right direction, they shouldn't be over-estimated. You can no more be straight and not engage in any sexual activity than be gay - to compel one to refrain while the other is free to indulge raises yet more questions of equality.
As an adult, I don't care, I don't require affirmation or acceptance of my sexual preference in order to be content - it is what it is and requires no approval. I keep going back to this though - when you're growing up, finding your feet and place in the world, the last thing you need is some stuffy old git - empowered by the words of another who is in a position of extreme authority - telling you you are less worthy & less equal than the person next to you.
Still, Francis is centuries ahead of the previous Pope who said:
"The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man's fundamental choice where he himself is concerned."
Pope Benedict (A.K.A Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger) in a fit of silliness decided that sexual preference was not a conclusion of biology and that God made these decisions.
|Pope Benedict XVI in the kitchen.|
Going by that - even if you are godless - in this debate you have to accept that a god you don't believe exists made you and that science is just fanciful.
Frankly the man can't even make toast so its hardly surprising he got this the wrong way round.