Home Features A cardinal error: Pope Francis on same-sex marriage

A cardinal error: Pope Francis on same-sex marriage

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Joshua Rotchelle takes a critical stance on the Pope’s recent statements regarding same-sex marriage

Half Pope, half pop culture icon, Pope Francis recently voiced controversial opinions in a speech during a mass Manila. Specifically, he condemned the recent trend of governments worldwide moving towards equal marriage rights for the LGBT population, declaring these motions to be a “threat” to the family, and furthermore stating that they “disfigure God’s creation.”

Unsurprisingly, this is not the first time the papacy has handed down some less-than-favourable views to the LGBT crowd. Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, went so far as to label homosexuality as an “intrinsic disorder,” while the Catholic catechism specifically brands homosexuals “contrary to the natural law,” and warns that under no circumstances can it be approved.

However, compared to his predecessors, Francis has often been said to be relatively progressive. While it’s true that his recent comments may seem to contradict that reputation, in other areas such as corruption within the church, it’s true that the current Pope has made some massive leaps forward, although perhaps less so in LGBT aspects.

There is the question of whether ‘forward’ is enough. An over-conservative Pope is an over-conservative Pope; yes, a move forward is ‘better.’ But that’s like saying a hangover is better than a hangover and a stomach ache. You can wave your hands in triumph all you like, but in the end, your head’s still aching like hell.

Francis’ rhetoric also seems a tad dubious on some levels – in a previous interview, when questioned on his top ten tips for a successful life, the Pope outlined his top tip, numero uno, to ‘live and let live.’ This rings in a remarkably contradictory tone to the Pope’s recent words. If Francis is happy living as a Catholic, why doesn’t he ‘let live’ others who fall into those two most important of demographics: Homosexuals, and People Who Are Not Pope Francis?

Even if we overlook the little stumbling block of going against one’s own words, there are other issues afoot, some of which go over even the Pope’s head. Even the rhetoric of the head of the Church pales in comparison to the words of bigger fish, and you can’t get much bigger than the son of the big man himself.

Without wishing to turn this into a sermon, ol’ beardy makes it pretty clear in the New Testament that one of the most important commandments for the Christian faith is ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself.’

Is it loving to rock up to a huge demographic of the world population and say to them: “Sorry, you can’t have access to a huge part of modern love life, because I don’t think my deity would like it much.”

However, even before all that, there is one rather large and rather secular elephant in the room, important even to the most die-hard of atheists, if not more so: the separation of church and state.

Around the world, the past century has slid further towards separating religion and state law, a move that I am wholeheartedly in agreement with, mostly because the alternatives seem to have an alarming tendency towards high body counts of relatively innocent people and large numbers of oppressed minorities.

It doesn’t really matter what Francis’ opinions (or the church’s opinions) on LGBT marriage are: as far as I’m concerned, they should have no bearing on the restrictions – or ideally, lack thereof – on whether gay populations can marry. The days of the laws of the Bible being the laws of the land and no exceptions thank you very much are over, and I for one am in no rush to see them return.

In short, it seems that somebody really ought to tell Francis to mind his own business. Catholics look to the Pope for a religious leader, and that’s fine, but non-Catholic homosexuals never asked for his opinion. This latter group simply does not fall under the Pope’s jurisdiction, and Francis has absolutely no business poking his nose in what they can and can’t do in their love lives.

This especially applies when it comes to issues such as marriage, which these days are as much legal and secular affairs as they are religious, if not more so. The most recent available statistics, from 2011, show the percentage of marriages in the UK and Wales to be at an all-time low, at less than 30 per cent.

The message that emerges becomes clear: Pope Francis, get with it. He may be ‘progressive,’ but times are a-changing, and if he doesn’t buck up his ideas on gay marriage, he’s going to find himself looking a lot like that unwanted hangover, annoying, and hanging around awkwardly long after the party has ended.

Joshua Rotchelle

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