Vatican Still Doesn't Really Get It
Dear Uncle RJ,
I know your nephew, Cousin Butchie... and I don't think he is smart enough to answer my question. Don't tell him I said that, but it is true.
So... What is your opinion of the latest statements from Pope Francis on April 8, 2016?
You Know Who!
Dear You Know Who!
I really don't know who you are, but that's beside the point. I'm pleased that someone Butchie's age (more or less) would ask a question like yours.
To start, in conducting several synods open to Catholics all over the world, questions were asked on almost every aspect of family life and had room for honest answers. Because Pope Francis is quoted as saying that in regard to LGBT people "Who am I to judge?" at the very beggining of his election to the papacy, people felt he would honestly address the horrendous statements made in the past by previous popes. We were called "intrinsically disordered" and people with "same-sex attraction." et al.
In my opinion, Pope Francis talks about mercy and understanding and recognizing conscience and sensitive personal situations, it isn't too easy to understand in his 256 page apostolic exhortation "Amoris Laetitia" which means THE JOY OF LOVE. It's there, but no one could really tell you what the ramifications will be.
While not one church doctrine was changed, Pope Francis asked for a more understanding and pastoral approach to the treatment of people in second marriages, etc. As for LGBT people, there was also the request that people in this category be respected and shown love and compassion and respect for their consciences. However, this in no way approved gay marriage. It leaves any counsel and acceptance to arise from local pastors in different areas of the world, (What does that mean???)
It is possible to read the opinions of some well-respected Catholic theologians (like Father James Martin, S.J.) and accept that the Pope has opened the door for discussion of all these sensitive issues, and that the door cannot be closed or ignored in the future.
So... My personal feeling is that Pope Francis has tried his best, but he found it impossible to please the conservatives and the liberals in the Catholic Church. Instead, he made some oblique statements. In fact, the document is a paramount example of double talk, I seriously doubt that any priest or bishop in this country can tell you exactly what will be accepted and what will remain the same but with a kinder approach. As for gay marriage, even all of the gay priests (99% closeted) realize that their kindness and respect cannot lead them to approve of gay marriage or gay adoption.
We were always taught that the Catholic Church moves very slowly. In the case of Pope Francis, he didn't take an inordinant amount of time to craft this document, but he was unable to give LGBT Catholics the heads up needed to feel totally loved and accepted in the Church. He must have also let down many of the silent gay members of the hierarchy and the priesthood and religious orders.