Today, particularly, I would like my grandmother to be alive and to discuss with her Pope Francis’ support to allow same-sex couples the right to have a civil marriage.
Many Latinx members of the LGBTQ+ community have had that uncomfortable conversation with our grandparents and uncles about the possibility of adapting the traditions of the Catholic faith to our way of loving and living.
The fact that my grandmother’s church leader has openly supported the right we have to have a family — even if it is not in my plans — is deeply moving.
“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family,” Pope Francis commented in an interview in a documentary film, Francesco, which premiered at the Rome film festival on Wednesday. “Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way, they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”
I left the Catholic Church more than 15 years ago when I refused confirmation as an act of hypocrisy imposed as an obligation by the Catholic school I attended.
However, hearing Francis say those words mean a lot to me and, I am sure, to many Latinx who have had to sadly bear the stigma of “sinners” for deciding to be free and love in freedom.
Not everything is rosy when it comes to sexuality and church. The film directed by Evgeny Afineevsky reviews the last seven and a half years of Pope Francis’ life, covering his travels before the COVID-19 pandemic and his handling of the sexual abuse scandals that have engulfed the church, according to The Guardian.
So far, the paradox was thorny: the paradigm of moral correctness was falling apart, exposing the rottenness of a system — not a religion — whose privilege allowed it to abuse children and adolescents for centuries. Meanwhile, those of us who wanted to be recognized as individuals with the full right to love had to put up with the rejection of a book that had been misunderstood for more than two thousand years.
Father James Martin, a prominent Jesuit who has argued that the church should be more welcoming to LGBT people, wrote on Twitter: “Pope Francis’s support for same-sex civil unions is a major step forward in the church’s support of LGBTQ people. It is in keeping with his pastoral approach to LGBT people, including LGBT Catholics, and sends a strong signal to countries where the church has opposed such laws.”
Francis himself, at the beginning of his term, answered a question about gay priests: “Who am I to judge?”
The Catholic Church leader’s position contradicts, on paper, the traditional teachings of his community, where marriage can only be “between a man and a woman,” and the church has often opposed legal recognition of same-sex unions.
As the Guardian continues, in 2003, a Vatican document set out why it was “necessary to oppose legal recognition of homosexual unions” because they “obscure certain basic moral values and cause a devaluation of the institution of marriage.”
Meanwhile, the church’s conservative wing moved heaven and earth to cover up the sex abuse scandals, as if the rod of morality moved high or low, depending on the case.
Francis’ words may not be a matter of celebration for many who, like me, have chosen a more spiritual and less religious path in our lives as members of the LGBTQ community. However, in a world like today’s, every victory counts, no matter the size.