Ben Payne responds to recent media coverage of the Pope's new book launch.
Pope Francis is ‘concerned’ about a ‘serious issue’; he’s also, returning to the kind of language we have long expected from the Catholic Church hierarchy.
I’m also concerned: concerned that contrary to his previous ‘moderniser’ track-record there is still old-fashioned intolerance at the heart of what he says. I’m concerned by the lack of compassion is his recent statements. I’m concerned by his apparent lack of understanding of how his utterances contribute to pain and suffering.
It’s not his specific words that concern me most. Nothing is that black and white. It’s the implication of his words. It’s the attitudes that hover behind those words. And it’s the people who will take his pontification as legitimisation of their own beliefs… and then act on them.
Mere months after becoming Pope, Francis established himself as a voice of reason and humility with his comment that: “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?”.
However, in his new book ‘The Strength of a Vocation’, he states that: “In our societies it even seems that homosexuality is fashionable’.
So, even homosexuality is fashionable. Wow! What is the world coming to? Homosexuality has become acceptably popular!
Homosexuality still carries the death penalty in 10 countries and is an unofficial death sentence in many, many more. Uncountable numbers of gay men and lesbians live in fear for their jobs, their families, their lives.
He might be over 80, living a life of extreme privilege and isolated from the real world but there is no excuse for the leader of a major world religion to be so crassly ill-informed.
I have no idea what ‘society’ he is referring to but can only surmise it is the Vatican City, nowhere else could possibly be described in such terms.
Priests are meant to live celibately. Celibacy, de facto, makes the issue of sexuality irrelevant. Only those who fear that something ‘more’ lurks behind homosexuality could believe that celibate homosexuals are any different from celibate heterosexuals.
The Pope’s language reinforces just these fears in those who oppress, attack and kill homosexuals the world over. His words legitimise prejudice. His words contribute to the climate of fear under which many LGBT people live.
He adds that “existing homosexual priests should be impeccably responsible”. But there appears to be little responsibility behind what he is saying.
Ben Payne is the press and campaigns manager at Oasis.