Is Pope Francis unable to see the walls that he himself has built and fortified to separate and exclude people?
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the gospel.”
This is what Pope Francis told reporters who asked his opinion on Donald Trump’s proposal to erect a high border fence between the United States and Mexico to halt undocumented immigration into the U.S.
Well, if the Pope is correct in his assessment, I then question the Pope’s Christian credentials by his erecting new impenetrable and soaring walls of his own while reinforcing those of this predecessors.
Vatican hierarchy recently fenced off Alex Salinas, a 21-year-old transman from Cadiz, Spain, by informing him that it had denied his request to become the godparent of his nephew because being transgender is incongruent with Catholic teaching. According to the Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, its doctrine-enforcing agency:
Transgender status “reveals in a public way an attitude opposite to the moral imperative of solving the problem of sexual identity according to the truth of one’s own sexuality. Therefore it is evident that this person does not possess the requirement of leading a life according to the faith and in the position of godfather and is therefore unable to be admitted to the position of godfather or godmother.”
The Vatican asserted that there is “no discrimination toward [Salinas], but only the recognition of an objective lack of the requirements, which by their nature are necessary to assume the ecclesial responsibility of being a godfather.”
Regarding same-sex sexuality, Pope Francis not merely supports but publicly buttresses a wall of separation, which according to the Roman Catholic Church Catechism 2357 states:
“Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are gravely disordered. They are contrary to natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of love [i.e., children]. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
“Gravely disordered” in this passage refers to acting on same-sex desires with another person while not necessarily applying to the person or people involved: the old “we hate the sin but love the sinner” slight-of-hand. For individuals within the Church who cannot or will not change to a heterosexual orientation, they are tolerated in the Church if they are able and willing to scale the unreasonable and inhumane heights of the Catholic ramparts by following Roman Catholic Church Catechism 2359:
“Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”
Pope Francis fortified this at a Vatican conference on so-called “traditional marriage” in November 2014 that marriage is between a man and a woman and that “[t]his complementarity is at the root of marriage and family.” He added that this union between a man and a woman is “an anthropological fact…that cannot be qualified based on ideological notions or concepts important only at one time in history.”
He also asserted: “Children have the right to grow up in a family with a father and mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.”
Francis reinforced his Church-imposed wall in front of more than 1,000 families in the Philippines during a recent trip when he warned that “[t]he family is threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life.” These forces, he said, are attempting the “ideological colonization of the family.” Among other forces, this was also a reference to marriage for same-sex couples.
The Pope laid extra rows of bricks and mortar with his swipe at LGBTQ people at another weekly Vatican audience when he gave his unqualified blessing to a Slovakian referendum outlawing same-sex unions and adoption rights for same-sex couples. He proclaimed: “I greet the pilgrims from Slovakia and, through them, I wish to express my appreciation to the entire Slovak church, encouraging everyone to continue their efforts in defense of the family, the vital cell of society.”
So El Papa has hardened and extended the already unfathomable Catholic walls by denying LGBTQ people (his “children”) the rights of marriage and adoption and to their sexuality and gender identities and expressions; denying them the benefits, privileges, and responsibilities of legalized partnerships and families; and denying them the right to be named and serve as godparents. How “Christian” is this?
Francis and his Church have built great walls to block our subjectivity and personal agency. They have restrained our human and civil rights. The Catholic Church constructs barriers while speaking in doublespeak saying “we love you,” “we welcome you,” “we offer you ‘Christian love,’” and “we are here to help you change your unwanted attractions and gender identities and expressions,” which we, by the way, construct as “gravely and intrinsically disordered” and incongruent with Catholic teaching.
Is this not itself a wall? Is this truly love? Or is this rather stones, bricks, cement, and razor wire laid in our path. Is this also cruelty, discrimination, and, yes, abuse and oppression?
I find this disappointing at best since Francis showed us some indications initially that he could unearth the Church out of the Seventeenth century where it has remained encased for some time and lift a chisel to the great Catholic wall to uncover at least the Nineteenth if not the Twentieth or Twenty-first century regarding the concerns of LGBTQ people. But alas, the chisel is nowhere to be found as is the hope.
All we have to look forward to from the Catholic Church is the same ol’ same ol’ barriers for probably the next millennium or so. But by then, humanity will overpopulate itself to extinction through the Church’s ban on contraceptives and denial of women’s reproductive freedoms.
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