Papal Flim-Flam

by Benjamin Studebaker

Pope Francis recently made some comments about homosexuality that were not entirely negative, and now  we have lots of people running all over the internet praising the papacy’s supposed shift on the issue. Even George Takei is buying in, calling it “An important step forward for the Catholic Church and its leadership”. Unfortunately, what we have here is not a change of position on homosexuality, it’s papal film-flam.

What did the pope actually say? Here are the bits that are doing the rounds:

If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge them?…The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says they should not be marginalized because of this but that they must be integrated into society.

What is left out of all of this is the context in which the pope made these comments. He was speaking about priests who have homosexual inclinations. Importantly, priests are celibate–they do not actually have sex of any kind, or at least, are not supposed to. Francis is affirming that it is okay to have homosexual feelings, but he is not affirming homosexual acts.

This is not a new position, it is the church’s current position, the same position it has had for ages–gay inclinations are acceptable insofar as one resists acting on them.

Pope Benedict held precisely the same position, but Benedict was insensitive and gaffe-prone. He emphasized the latter part of church teachings, the opposition to homosexual sex, and earned the church a great deal of negative publicity as a result. Francis is more media savvy, he has a better understanding of what the media will likely pick up on. By placing the emphasis on the former teaching rather than the latter, Francis ensures good press for the church while changing absolutely nothing policy-wise.

We know what Pope Francis really thinks of the LGBT movement and homosexuality. Before he became pope, when he was still Cardinal Bergoglio, he was a staunch opponent of gay marriage in Argentina. Here’s what Bergoglio had to say in 2010 before he became Francis and had the church’s public image to manage:

In the coming weeks, the Argentine people will face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family…At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts…

Let us not be naive: this is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is not just a bill (a mere instrument) but a ‘move’ of the father of lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.

“The father of lies” is the devil. This man believes that gay marriage is the work of Satan. This story, and others like it, are so entirely buried in Google now by articles about how wonderful and accepting this pope supposedly is, that in order to find it, I had to use advanced search and exclude everything written about Bergoglio after he became Francis.

Much of our media has a short attention span. The past is swiftly forgotten. Already, Francis and the church’s images have improved with young people all over the world, and for what? A few words emphasized differently, a manipulation. There is no change in policy, no end to the resistance to policies that could improve the lives of the members of the LGBT community.

It’s flim-flam. Don’t get sucked into it, dear reader.