Does this pope give you hope? Many LGBT Catholics say yes — the phrase is even emblazoned on stickers — but others remain critical or skeptical. And remarks he made about “gender theory” to the authors of a newly published book puts another mark in the minus column for this mixed-record pontiff.
Via the National Catholic Reporter, which explains that Pope Francis is writing about "Herods" that " disfigure the face of man and woman, destroying creation," here are some quotes from the pontiff featured in Pope Francis: This Economy Kills:
Let's think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings. Let's think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation.
With this attitude, man commits a new sin, that against God the Creator. The true custody of creation does not have anything to do with the ideologies that consider man like an accident, like a problem to eliminate.
God has placed man and woman and the summit of creation and has entrusted them with the earth. The design of the Creator is written in nature.
Pope Francis: This Economy Kills was written by two Italian journalists, who interviewed the pope late last year. Media reports about the pope’s criticism of “gender theory” come just a month after Pope Francis met privately with a transgender man and his fiancée. The man, Diego Neria Lejárraga, had written a letter about being rejected by his parish in Spain and being called “the devil’s daughter” by a priest. He subsequently told CNN that he thinks Pope Francis "loves the whole world. I think there's not — in his head, in his way of thinking, discrimination against anyone. I'm speaking about him, not the institution."
Pope Francis is widely perceived as trying to soften the church’s tone on LGBT issues, and his tenure has seen multiple apparent overtures to the LGBT community. He’s talked about ministering to the children of parents in “nontraditional relationships,” for instance, and he’s made positive remarks about civil unions (though without offering an endorsement). Considered a “draw” for LGBT Catholics, the pope attracted twice as many travelers as usual for an annual LGBT pilgrimage to Rome. (In what New Ways Ministry’s executive director, Francis DeBernardo, called a “singular honor,” the group was, for the first time for any LGBT group, given VIP seats near Pope Francis for the pontiff’s weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.)
Yet the pope has also been criticized for a lack of policy changes (which most observers grant are unlikely) and critical statements about same-sex marriage and nontraditional families. It’s possible that some of his statements are an effort to appear more conservative after a bishops’ meeting last year that initially seemed promising for LGBT inclusion but did not turn out that way. Another synod on LGBT and other family-related issues will follow in October.
In a 2013 op-ed for The Advocate, Parker Molloy pointed out that the church’s shift in tone was specifically an LGB shift.
“It should be noted that the pope has never tone-corrected the church's views on transgender individuals,” wrote Molloy, who pointed to antitransgender statements from Francis's immediate predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, as then being the most recent papal discussion on trans issues.
“Why has [Pope Francis] not said a word in defense of transgender people, with Catholic churches regularly demonizing us during homilies, and with Catholic organizations continuing to lobby against legislation that would end the practice of systematically discriminating against transgender people in housing, employment, and public accommodations?, Molloy continued. Why has he remained silent in our plight?”
Within the Catholic Church, transgender issues are so sensitive that one nun has for years run a secret ministry for trans people under the moniker Sister Monica.