LGBT Catholics Cautiously Encouraged by Pope's Tolerance

Pope Francis said that Catholics should not marginalize LGBT people, and that it's not his place to 'judge' gay priests.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

July 29 2013 7:28 PM ET

The executive director of New Ways Ministry, which describes itself as a "national Catholic ministry of justice and reconciliation for LGBT and the wider church community," also praised the pope's softer language. 

"Pope Francis' statement on accepting and respecting gay priests is a clear sign that this pope will be taking a more conciliatory approach to LGBT issues than his immediate predecessors have done," said Francis DeBernardo. "Some will say that Francis' statement is not enough, that he still refers to sins of homosexuals, but I think the important thing is the question of emphasis. Even if he doesn't drop the sin language, this is still a major step forward, and one that can pave the way for further advancements down the road. Change in the church is evolutionary, not revolutionary. Though this statement is not the change which many of hope for, that is, the full equality of LGBT people in our church, it is a necessary first step toward that change."

The Human Rights Campaign also applauded Francis' change in tone over his predecessors in a cautiously optimistic statement. 

"While Pope Francis’s words do not reflect a shift in Church policy, they represent a significant change in tone," said HRC president Chad Griffin. "Like his namesake, Francis’s humility and respect for human dignity are showing through, and the widespread positive response his words have received around the world reveals that Catholics everywhere are thirsty for change.

"But as long as millions of LGBT Catholic individuals, couples and youth alike are told in churches big and small that their lives and their families are disordered and sinful because of how they are born — how God made them — then the Church is sending a deeply harmful message. One’s sexuality is an immutable characteristic, and every leading medical and mental health organization has declared that attempts to change or suppress that fact are profoundly damaging. It’s time to send positive and affirming messages to all people, because the Bible is clear. All people have dignity in themselves and in their love for one another. It’s time for Church teaching to reflect that simple fact."

Tags: Religion

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