Pope Francis told an LGBTQ website that God “does not disown any of his children,” including queer individuals.
While the Pope’s words suggest the church’s increasing acceptance of LGBTQ people, a closer look at the Pope’s LGBTQ record suggests that he’s less progressive than his words might seem.
Outreach, a web resource for LGBTQ Catholics, recently published its brief three-question interview with the Pope. The website’s first question asked, “What would you say is the most important thing for LGBT people to know about God?”
Pope Francis answered, “God is Father and he does not disown any of his children. And ‘the style’ of God is ‘closeness, mercy and tenderness.’ Along this path you will find God.”
The website’s third question asked the Pope, “What do you say to an LGBT Catholic who has experienced rejection from the church?”
The Pope responded, “I would have them recognize it not as ‘the rejection of the church,’ but instead of ‘people in the church.’ The church is a mother and calls together all her children. Take for example the parable of those invited to the feast: “’the just, the sinners, the rich and the poor, etc.’ [Matthew 22:1-15; Luke 14:15-24]. A ‘selective’ church, one of ‘pure blood,’ is not Holy Mother Church, but rather a sect.”
In the past, Pope Francis has criticized his own church’s leaders for becoming too focused on divisive issues like homosexuality. He told U.S. bishops to lay off the anti-gay attacks and compared homophobes to Nazis. He also suggested that he could support same-sex unions, said that celibate gay priests should be allowed to serve, and even met with LGBTQ activists, reportedly telling one man that God made him gay and donating money to a group of transgender sex workers.
However, Pope Francis has also said that the Catholic Church can’t bless same-sex relationships because they’re a “sin,” that gay priests are being “fashionable” and should “leave the ministry”, that bishops should reject priesthood applicants suspected of being gay, that gay couples can’t be families, that U.S. clerks have a right to deny marriage certificates to same-sex couples, that parents should send their gay children to therapy, that trans people will “annihilate the concept of nature” and that trans youth shouldn’t try and access gender-affirming medical care.
In short, despite being hailed as a progressive face for the centuries-old church, Pope Francis’ words suggest that he merely wants to keep LGBTQ people close at hand while denying them any recognition for their “sin.”