This week, His Holiness Pope Francis, 85, urged parents in his weekly General Audience to not “hide behind an attitude of condemnation” but to “accompany” LGBT children. Those children, The Pontiff believes, are children of God, loved by God and therefore deserving of accompaniment by the church.
While the 266th Pontiff, aged 85, thanked nuns and priests and religious orders for taking care of HIV and AIDS victims, he has not waivered on his insistence that Catholic marriage, one of the sacraments, is only for heterosexual couples. It is essentially meant for the procreation of children.
In 2013, shortly after Pope Francis was ordained, he was asked by an Italian reporter about the Pontiff’s role as a Protector of Gay Children. He replied that gay people should not be marginalized but integrated into society. “Who am I to judge?”
Yet, just last March, The Vatican’s office issued a two- page statement “The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” (CDF) that ruled that any marriage that’s not between a man and a woman cannot be considered legal. Pope Francis approved the decree barring priests from blessing gay couples. This flew in the face of many priests and ministers in the U.S. and Europe who were already marrying same-sex couples.
This document called gay legal unions a “choice,” not the Creator’s plan. The pope does not disapprove of “same-sex tendencies” but the Catholic Catechism states that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.” While the church cannot accept same-sex marriage, Pope Francis supports civil union laws (what the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg called “skim milk” marriages) aimed at giving gay partners joint rights in the areas of pensions and healthcare.
Just this month Pope Francis slammed couples, calling them “selfish” who have opted to have pets instead of kids. There’s a big difference between adopting a lap dog during the pandemic to combat isolation and having to minister to a colicky baby at 2 a.m. when you can not rely on your extended family for support or your boss for a paycheck. It doesn’t take a “village” to raise a cat.
Besides, the Trump Administration made it more difficult for same-sex couples to adopt from faith-based adoption and foster care agencies when it overturned an Obama rule in 2016. Even federally-funded faith-based adoption and foster care agencies, under Trump, were allowed to follow their religious beliefs and not place children with same-sex couples.
In December 2021, the Vatican apologized for causing “pain” to the entire LGBT community when it removed its website link to a Catholic gay rights advocacy group called “New Ways Ministry.” The link was restored within a week.
There will be an important meeting in 2023 of the Synod, an assembly of bishops and others representing the Catholic Episcopate to deal with matters of faith, morality, rite, canonical, and cultural life. His Holiness Pope Francis will consider their viewpoints in governing the future of the universal church.
It may change the way the Roman Catholic Church makes decisions on the future of its vast membership, including the LGBT population. One hopes that the church will give that growing minority the same rights as its Catholic majority, but with its record on LGBT rights so far, one could easily be a “doubting Thomas.”
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.