In March of 2013, I was writing a column about the pope. When I started writing it, I did not know exactly which pope I was addressing. One pope had just left the post and the Vatican was in the throes of electing another. As I finished the piece, the announcement came. A former cardinal from Argentina was to be the new pope: Pope Francis.
My article, which enjoyed wide readership, made a request of the new pope. I sent it via Twitter to the Argentinian’s personal account, hoping to reach him before he was sucked up into the Vatican forever. The last line of my request: “Surprise us. Inspire us. Show us what love really looks like.”
In many ways, he’s done just that.
Coming from a church that’s famous for defining LGBT people as “intrinsically disordered,” it was a shock to hear its leader utter the statement, “Who am I to judge?” There were plenty of anti-LGBT moments served up by the Catholic Church as well, but gracious moments reflected from the warmth of Pope Francis’s gentle, humble attitude did “surprise us, inspire us” and gave us a hint what love from a pope could look like.
Upon his arrival in the United States, we’re reminded that the loving embraces of the pope may only go so far. It’s rumored that he has concerns about LGBT people greeting him at the White House.
Mike Huckabee, our Official Grand Gay Basher, tried to stoke those rumors on Fox News: “If I were hosting a group of Alcoholics Anonymous,” he said, “I wouldn’t set up an open bar,” thus demonstrating in one breath that he’s (1) completely ignorant about AA members who live their lives comfortably in open bar environments all the time, and (2) seems equally ignorant of the pope’s holistic values.
While Huckabee may love the pope’s stance on abortion, he and other GOPers are aghast that the pope is anti-poverty, anti-capitalism, anti-guns, global warming conscious and for progressive immigration. If, by Huckabee’s analogy, a few LGBT handshakes are “open bars to AA members”, then the pope hanging out with the GOP Presidential wanna-be’s is akin to thrusting that AA member into a drunken Frat party orgy and handing them a keg.
Tacky protocol not withstanding, there’s a rumor going around that within the huge dogmatic monolith of a bureaucracy that is the Catholic Church, there’s a living breathing human with a heart: Pope Francis.
It is to him, and that heart, that I make this invitation:
Dear Pope Francis,
Welcome to America. Welcome to the land of moneyed politics where the common man is being drummed out of having a voice. It’s where the wealthy are running for office and the current Republican frontrunner has the advantage of being his own rich person, setting him apart from others who are merely owned by other rich people.