by Adewale Alabi
Pope Francis is currently making headlines around the world because of statements he made about same-sex couples in a new documentary. The documentary is a feature-length film, titled Francesco, that premiered at the Rome Film Festival on Wednesday the 21st of October 2020. In the documentary, the pope speaks about issues he cares about which includes; poverty, the environment, racial and income inequality, migration, and people affected by discrimination.
In a segment of the feature-film the pope said;
‘Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it,’
‘What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.’
Many feel this is a turning point when it comes to the belief of the Pope and may affect the teachings of the Catholic Church about same-sex relationships at large. Unfortunately, that may not be the case. A critical look at what the Pope said reveals that the law which is different from the state can allow people have civil unions but the church will retain its stance of not recognising same-sex couples within its walls. Sounds confusing? The Pope literally recognizes that if the church is separated from the state, it has no business making laws from a religious perspective, which is very much true.
It should be noted that Pope Francis has always had this belief as far back as when he was a Bishop in Argentina. He advocated for civil union between same-sex couple but kicked against the approval of same-sex marriages as he believed that was between a man and a woman. Also, he supports same-sex couples raising their children in the church but has never moved for church teachings on same-sex relationships to be changed.
In the year 2013 he was asked about his stance on same sex and his response was; “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”
Some queer people feel he is being coy by not supporting same-sex marriage while his ‘encouraging words’ towards same-sex couples and pushing for civil unions has also set him in a sensitive position with conservative Catholics who feel the Pope is deviating from the teachings of the church.
Now here is the deal. If you are queer and waiting for Pope Francis to say your love life is not a sin. That may not happen anytime soon. He has never said so and may never say so. If you are also a conservative Catholic who fears the Pope is going against the church, well that’s not the case either. In fact, a critical look at all that Pope Francis has said is that he stands with the teachings of the church and believes queers should be allowed to do what they want- but get married.
So the question is why is the Pope getting himself twisted in a knot? It may be connected to the fact that he is trying to attach the Catholic Church to the fast changing world around it. Also, the church has an unfortunate history of trampling on human rights in centuries past, so this may be Pope Francis’ way of shedding the church of that image.
Finally, this may be his honest opinion about such matters as the Pope is known to state his personal opinion on some issues regardless of church teachings. The Pope’s statements also draws light to the fact that countries need to make laws unconnected to religion and deal with its people from a civil point of view and not religious. Pope Francis’ recent statements is seen however as a breath of fresh air and may change the view of conservative Christians towards queer people and possibly open up more conversations on homophobia in Christianity as a whole.