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    Examining the Words of the Pope

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    (Editor’s Note: As we went to press, news outlets reported that the Pope met with Kim Davis during his trip to the U.S. and offered her words of encouragement. As John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney told us, “These actions represent a provocative and polarizing development.”)

    Our last two columns have focused on Syrian refugee Subhi Nahas’ historic speech to the United Nations and the inspiring leadership of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Today, we turn our attention to Pope Francis I’s much publicized addresses to the U.N., a Joint Session of Congress, and a con­ference of American Catholic Bishops.

    Although we are neither Catholics nor experts on the Papacy, we, like many others, were struck two years ago when the then new Pope departed from the anti-gay vitriol of his prede­cessor by telling reporters: “If some­one is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Shortly thereafter, he elaborated, re­counting how when he was a priest in Buenos Aires he received “letters from homosexual persons who are ‘socially wounded’ because…they feel like the church has always condemned them.” The Pope asserted that “the church does not want to do this” and the “catechism” instructs Catholics not to judge.

    He stated: “Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiri­tually in the life of a person. A person once asked me, in a provocative man­ner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being.”

    The Pope has also criticized what he termed the Catholic Church’s being “obsessed” with issues such as “gay marriage,” abortion and contraception to the exclusion of other concerns, and made statements that some inter­pret as possibly considering support for civil unions.

    However, the Pope has not altered the Catholic Church’s official doctrine that homosexuality is a sin, and he has reaf­firmed the Church’s opposition to civil and religious marriage equality. On his recent U.S. trip, the Pope said nothing that really advanced his views either way on the issue of LGBT dignity and equality. Indeed, he never referred explicitly to LGBT people or marriage equality, instead offering oblique refer­ences, subject to divergent interpreta­tions, in his carefully scripted words.

    For instance, the Pope at one point in his U.N. speech referred to “a moral law written into human nature itself, one which includes the natural differ­ence between man and woman,” and urged the U.N. to recognize “certain incontestable natural ethical limits” and abstain from “carrying out an ide­ological colonization by the imposition of anomalous models and lifestyles which are alien to people’s identity and, in the end, irresponsible.” However, the Pope’s remarks came not in the context of a discussion of LGBT people, but followed his unabashed condemnation of “selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity lead[ing] both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged.”

    In the Pope’s speech to the joint session of Congress, he fearlessly confronted members: “Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to con­front the problem and to stop the arms trade.” Shortly thereafter, he turned to issues of family life and stated that he could not “hide [his] concern for the family.” He claimed that the family “is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without” and that “[f]undamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family.”

    Yet, the Pope mentioned nothing about homosexuality in this context and instead seemed concerned more gener­ally about problems he perceives young people face today. He decried how many young people have “a future filled with countless possibilities,” while others are “trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair.” In the

    Marriage Equality

    John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney, Marriage Equality USAJourney along India’s Spice Route by way of California at five-time Michelin star winner Campton Place. Chef Srijith’s cuisine masterfully blends the fi nest local produce with the richness of the region’s seasonal bounty. Enjoy a six-course Spice Route menu or indulge in our nine-course Degustation menu. For those with lighter appetites we offer a three-course Theatre Menu and Vegetarian Tasting menu.camptonplacesf.com for reservations | 415.781.5555340 Stockton San Francisco | Union Square