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Pope Francis slams “closed up, dogmatic” anti-LGBTQ+ conservatives

Pope Francis addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015 from the House Chamber of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Vice President Joe Biden, back center, Speaker of the House John Boehner, back right. Xxx 20150924 Pope Francis Congress Aps 175 Jpg A Usa Dc
Pope Francis in 2015 Photo: Andrew P. Scott / USA TODAY NETWORK via IMAGN

Pope Francis slammed U.S. religious conservatives who oppose his rule allowing priests to bless same-sex couples.

“[A] conservative is one who clings to something and does not want to see beyond that,” the 87-year-old worldwide Catholic leader said in a 60 Minutes interview aired last Sunday. “It is a suicidal attitude, because one thing is to take tradition into account, to consider situations from the past, but quite another is to be closed up inside a dogmatic box.”

Elsewhere in the interview, he called homosexuality “a human fact” and clarified his December 2023 announcement saying that Roman Catholic priests can bless same-sex couples, though not in a way that makes it seem like the church approves of same-sex marriage.

“What I allowed was not to bless the union. That cannot be done because that is not the sacrament. I cannot — the Lord made it that way — but to bless each person. Yes, the blessing is for everyone — for everyone,” he said in the interview.

“To bless a homosexual-type union, however, goes against the given right, against the law of the church. But to bless each person, why not?” he continued. “The blessing is for all. Some people were scandalized by this. But why? Everyone! Everyone!”

The Pope’s allowing of such blessings upset some African bishops who said they “do not consider it appropriate” because it “would be in direct contradiction to the cultural ethos of African communities” and “would cause confusion.” However, the Pope said such criticisms “belong to small ideological groups” and that clerics need to better understand “the suffering of people.”

In November 2023, the Pope fired Texas Bishop Joseph Strickland who had become one of the leading critics of the Pontiff, declaring that the Pope was too liberal on issues like the tolerance of LGBTQ+ people. Strickland, on his radio show, accused the Pope of attempting to undermine the Catholic faith. The Pope, however, has criticized Catholics who focus too much on blessings for gay couples while continuing to bless other “sinners.”

“No one is scandalized if I give a blessing to an entrepreneur who perhaps exploits people: and that is a most serious sin,” he said. “Whereas they are scandalized if I give it to a homosexual… This is hypocrisy! We all have to respect each other. Everyone!”

When asked in January if he felt alone in his decision to bless same-sex couples, the Pope said, “You make a decision, and solitude is a price you have to pay.” He also expressed regret that many who are angry are unwilling to engage in “brotherly discussion” and instead jump immediately to “ugly conclusions.”

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 other LGBTQ+ activists, reportedly telling one man that God made him gay and donating money to a group of transgender sex workers.

In January 2023, he called laws criminalizing homosexuality “unjust” and insisted that God loves all his children just as they are. He also called on Catholic bishops to welcome LGBTQ+ people into the Church. In 2020, he also said that nations should recognize civil unions for same-sex couples because they “have a right to a family.” 

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.

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