Once again, Pope Francis breaks with traditional papal doctrines
It's no secret that the Bible does not like homosexuality. Therefore, one would think Pope Francis would hew to the Catholic Church's Bible-aligned opposition to homosexuality — but one would be wrong. A new documentary shows Francis stating his support for civil unions.
The Bible is not gay-friendly. The ancient Jews said male homosexual sodomy was detestable (Leviticus 18:22) and that men who engaged in it should be put to death (Leviticus 20:13). God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah because the men of those towns preferred sodomy.
The New Testament viewed male homosexual acts with the same disdain. Paul, at Romans 1:27, wrote that homosexual acts were "shameful" and concluded that those who engaged in such acts "deserve death." (Romans 1:32).
Modern Christians and Jews no longer subscribe to the Bible's requirement that homosexual acts should be punished with death. However, those who hew to a traditional interpretation of the faith continue to view these acts with distaste, hence the expression "love the sinner, hate the sin."
For most of its existence, the Catholic Church opposed homosexuality, considering it a sin. The modern Catholic Church, though, has stopped shunning homosexuals and begun to minister to them.
Still, given its embrace of the "be fruitful and multiply" concept, she has consistently refused to support gay unions, which are naturally sterile. Or, as the Vatican said in 2003, treating gays with respect and dignity "cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions."
Since his ascension to the papacy, Francis has often spoken with sympathy about gays. Perhaps it was inevitable, then, that he would support official gay unions. In an AP article bearing the laugh-out-loud title "Francis becomes 1st pope to endorse same-sex civil unions" (I would have left out the bit about being the "1st pope"), we learn that the pope has moved beyond sympathy:
Pope Francis became the first pontiff to endorse same-sex civil unions in comments for a documentary that premiered Wednesday, sparking cheers from gay Catholics and demands for clarification from conservatives, given the Vatican's official teaching on the issue.
The papal thumbs-up came midway through the feature-length documentary "Francesco," which premiered at the Rome Film Festival. The film, which features fresh interviews with the pope, delves into issues Francis cares about most, including the environment, poverty, migration, racial and income inequality, and the people most affected by discrimination.
"Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God," Francis said. "You can't kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered."
I support same-sex unions, but I'm not a man of the cloth. The reason I support them is that I believe that marriage is an intrinsically religious concept. I thought it was appalling when Justice Anthony Kennedy found a right to same-sex "marriage" in the Constitution. Suddenly, the explicitly stated religious freedoms in the First Amendment would crash into the artificially created gay "marriage" freedom in the Constitution.
I knew that this holding would eventually see Democrats try to force religious institutions to perform gay "marriages" — or, as we see often, to force religious people to participate in gay "marriages." When I voiced that concern to a leftist friend, he responded that this hadn't been a problem with abortion becoming a constitutional right. He was taken aback when I reminded him that, while synagogues and churches perform marriages, they don't perform abortions.
The better response, I said, would have been for the Supreme Court to hold that marriage is strictly a religious institution but that the states have a relatively unlimited right to determine how they wish to treat both heterosexual and homosexual civil unions. These civil unions would have all the civil, legal consequences the government can bestow (tax benefits, child support, health care power of attorney, etc.). Meanwhile, religious institutions could look to their doctrines to determine whether to marry people in the eyes of God. Whether or not you agree with my viewpoint, it was certainly without my purview to reach that conclusion because I am a layperson.
I can't say the same for Pope Francis. As the earthly head of the Catholic Church, for him to put his imprimatur — that is, his official seal of approval — on gay relationships just strikes me as wrong. It's one thing to have outreach to homosexuals for the good of their souls and to care for their bodies. It's another thing entirely for the pope to endorse a physical relationship prohibited in the Bible. After all, religion exists not to make people feel good about themselves and their choices. It exists to align their relationships with God.
Why bother to be pope if you don't believe in the Good Book? Of course, if Andrew Sullivan, a gay writer, is correct, almost half of American priests don't necessarily believe in it, either. That may go a long way to explaining what's happening here.
Image: Pope Francis endorses same-sex civil unions. YouTube screen grab.