March 20, 2013
Catholics and non Catholics alike watched a new Pope being selected in the age old ritual of a secret election to replace the retired Pope Benedict. It was a wonder occasion filed with pomp and circumstance. The secrets of the Church fascinated the world.
The New Pope showed humility unlike his successor Benedict. He choose a name associated with reform of the Church. He choose the name of Francis after St Francis of Assisi. It set a tone that for the days that followed his selection and later his installation yesterday. Pope Francis is on a roll. His numbers are up using the language of the secular world.
The gay catholic community all over the world has been holding their breath that the selection of this humble servant of God will usher in a new era of reform and enlightenment in the Church. The proof however is in the pudding and in this case there is no reason to believe that the new Pope will support the ordination of women, allowing married men to serve as priests and support for gay marriage. Even more basic an issue is support for gays and lesbians all over the world to openly participate in the sacraments of the Church such as going to mass.
In the American Catholic church gays and lesbians have been openly participating in the Church especially in the blue states that support the civil rights of gays and lesbians. There is no apparent effort to purge the American church of all the gays and lesbians who add to the fabric of the Church in the USA.There are some bishops who still rant and rave over the issue of gays participating in the Mass but by and large we can find a Church in our cities that welcome us.
In Sacramento, my home, there is a Franciscan Church, St Francis of Assisi Church in mid-town Sacramento. It is not a parish church or diocesan church, it is a destination Church. People come from all over the region every Sunday to attend a church that welcomes gay, unwed mothers, same sex couples and divorced Catholics. The current Bishop and those who have preceded him look the other way and allow St Francis to be the refuge of all these out of the box Catholics, the lost and otherwise rejected souls.
Back to the central theme of this blog. How do we as gay Catholics view this new Pope? Already there are blogs and editorials published from all over the country asking the same question. There is much scrutiny of the former Cardinals’ opposition to gay marriage in his home of Argentina. The Argentine government recently passed a law legalizing gay marriage over the loud opposition of former Cardinal Bergolio. As Cardinal, he said many often hateful things about these important issues.
I think the Church ought to stand for the redistribution of wealth around the world to feed the poor; not be obsessed with who can be married; it ought to support democracies around the world not oppose the civil rights of those Catholics who are gay ; Recognize the important role of women in the Church by allowing them to become Priests not maintain the boys only club in the Vatican; Clean up the sexual scandal in the Church rather than be obsessed with sex and gender ; and recognize that allowing married men to be ordained will provide a vast reservoir of potential priests.
It is unlikely that Pope Francis will be the progressive Pope we hoped for but I continue to have hope that the Holy Spirit can infuse this Vicar of Christ on earth with the spirit of St Francis. I am skeptical yet hopeful. As a gay Catholic, I refuse to be excluded from the sacraments of the Church. I often recall a simple message from my favorite Franciscan Priest who has said to me” Bob, just concentrate on your personal relationship with God and forgot about all the other stuff.”
God Bless you all.