Since his election as the leader of the Catholic Church in 2013, Pope Francis has stunned the public with his progressive nature. On his recent tour of the United States, he received a new wave of support for his ideas. During the tour, he spoke against capital punishment and the sale of weapons for monetary gain. He preached that people must constantly fight against poverty and for the conservation of the planet.
When taking a modern stance on these political topics, Francis brought hope to the public that he may lead the Catholic Church in supporting same-sex marriage. In July 2013, he famously took a tolerant stance on the matter when he told a plane full of reporters, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” However, it seems that he no longer holds that sentiment. On Oct. 4, he vehemently asserted his belief that marriage is an unbreakable bond between a man and a woman. With this assertion, he not only disappointed those who hoped he would modernize the Catholic Church, but he also contradicted many of the beliefs he claims to hold.
On Oct. 5, the pope told a Roman Catholic meeting that the Church cannot be a “museum of memories.” In some ways, this is consistent with his previous declarations. As stated before, Francis does not believe in capital punishment even though Leviticus lists several deeds that are punishable by death. He presumably looks past other commands in the Old Testament including not to tear clothes, eat fat or work on Sabbath because they are considered outdated. Yet, Francis validates the equally archaic Leviticus passage concerning homosexual behavior. Through his call to stay modern, the pope contradicts his beliefs against same sex marriage.
In the meeting on Oct. 4, Francis stressed the importance of creating a welcoming, judgement free church. He claimed that those who make mistakes must still be loved and understood. Even with that sentiment, he has failed to make the Church accepting and welcome to the LGTBQ+ community. In July, he gave his blessings to a lesbian couple. A month and a half later, he felt the need to clarify that a blessing does not support “unfit behaviors.”
Whether or not it is intended, those words and the pope’s narrow definition of marriage create an unwelcoming and prejudiced church. Through his intolerance of same sex marriage, Francis labels the LGBTQ+ community as people who do not fit God’s image. He welcomes the community into his Church as long as they know that they still will be viewed as sinners. Francis claimed to want a church with open doors, but until he accepts same sex marriage, he has not truly opened his Church to the LGBTQ+ community.
Some Christians use the Bible to support their prejudices, but their beliefs are not inherently supported in the text. The scriptures cited against same sex relationships are based on interpretation. For example, Romans 1:26-27 is argued to be a scripture that prohibits homosexual behavior, but that is not the only understanding of the text. Some people interpret it to mean that people should embrace their fundamental nature, which includes their sexuality.
As a religious leader, Pope Francis could publically accept another interpretation of common scriptures used to support prejudice against the LGBTQ+ community. Instead, he openly chooses an interpretation of judgment and intolerance which contradicts the welcome community he wishes to create.
During his tour in the U.S., Francis discussed a lot of topics he cannot control. He has no authority over American laws on capital punishment or gun sales, and he can only hope that he successfully persuaded people when he spoke of taking care of the environment and helping the fight against poverty and hunger. Yet, he does have power over the attitude of the Catholic Church. His beliefs on same-sex marriage negatively affect all Christians in the LGBTQ+ community.
If Pope Francis truly believed in a modern and judgement-free Catholic Church, he would use his leadership to promote the acceptance of same-sex marriage.
Alyssa Luis is a staff columnist for The Daily Campus opinion section. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.