I watched him pray for the victims of the largest terrorist attack in U.S. history and his embracing every other religion except those Catholic Churches not in full communion with Rome. They were ignored as usual. His trip to Philly brought hope and faith to many as well. He celebrated Mass for hundreds of thousands of people, and no doubt lifted Roman Catholic feelings that have been so down because of the sex scandals. When he was "wheels up," headed back to Rome, I thought, "Not bad. This Pope I like; the last two, not so much."
I should have known that it was all too good to be true. On his flight back to Rome, the Pope was asked about gay marriage. His response brings to the surface the ugliness of the Roman Catholic Church that I had hoped was passing. His prior statements on the gay community were lip service.
Pope Francis said that he supported the right of an official not to issue a marriage license if it went against their religious conscious. In other words, the law be damned, you're free to disregard the law if it bothers you.
Wrong. The United States is not a theocracy. We are a Republic with a Constitution that lays out the rights of the people. We have freedom of religion and freedom FROM religion. The individual in the South who has chosen to ignore the law of the land had the Pope's support. What if that same person felt it went against her religious conscious to issue a marriage license to a mix-race couple? Would it be okay if she refused that license and ordered her office not to issue any licenses to black and white couples, or Spanish and Black couples, or whatever? Would he support that?
The United States Supreme Court, although bitterly divided on this issue, did rule that under the 14th Amendment, the LGBT community had a CONSTITUTIONAL right to marry. What some clerk or for that fact, the Pope feels about that religiously, matters not. The Pope does NOT have the right to block my obtaining a marriage license to marry the man I love. He can order it as policy for his Church which he and those who proceeded him have done, but he has no right to restrict my right as an American. I soundly reject his attempted interference with my American rights.
This Pope is a gentler Pope than say John Paul II, who was a bitter enemy of the gay community, but he still maintains the hatred and bigotry of a false doctrine. I am a Seminary graduate. I am not only ordained, but consecrated as well as a Bishop. I was in the Roman Seminary but decided against ordination for Rome due to the precise issue. I joined the Old Catholic Church as a senior Seminarian and went on to head the oldest Old Catholic Religious Order in the United States. I am retired now due to poor health. But I can tell you this: NO where is this issue spoken about by the head of the Christian Church. Jesus Christ spoke out against many thing while on earth, but gay people were not among them. Why?
The Old Testament Jewish Holiness Code has 934 prohibitions listed in it. One among that group deals with men sleeping with men. One. This is the batch of rules that talks about shellfish, and what your clothes are made of and that women should be quiet in the Synagogues. If they wish to know something, they should ask their husbands at home. That was during the time when a woman could be sold for a cow, a pig, and a couple of chickens. Women were property, nothing more, nothing less.
I would LOVE to spend an hour with Francis and discuss this topic. I would raise the fact that more than half of all clergy in the Roman Church, are gay. That includes Priests, Bishops, Cardinals, and yes, Popes. If gay men left the churches clergy, the church would shut its doors. The irony of this is outrageous.
We go from that, to a senior in a Roman Catholic High School in Tennessee, who wanted to bring a boy to his Senior Prom. He's gay. He wanted to go with a boy. The school not only said no, they said Hell no, and when he went back to school today, they suspended him for a week. That's how the "Christian Brothers," run their high school. They told him he was a distraction. They told him that they had eight hundred and some other students to worry about. And the suspension was for what? And won't he be a distraction when his suspension is over?
THIS is injustice. THIS goes against Christ. But, this is what Rome propagates and has no intention of changing. I am so glad that when Archbishop Hickey, head of the Archdiocese of Washington asked me why I left the "girl" that the Press talked about when I entered the seminary, that I said, "It wasn't a girl Archbishop, it was a guy." You see, I had just been named Police Officer of the Year and going into the Seminary after that, caught the attention of the Press. They bugged the seminary that I was in for interviews, etc.
I never thought to lie to my Archbishop. Not for a second. I told him the truth. He couldn't handle the truth. You see, I was also his acting bodyguard for a few months whenever he appeared in public. A man with a knife had come towards the Archbishop at the Cathedral and so, I had a part time job during the summer months since I was assigned to St. Matthews Cathedral in D.C.
I had left my now husband in order to follow the command of Jesus, to leave your family and loved ones and follow me. Become a fisher of men, etc. The Seminary knew I was gay; didn't matter to them. Half of the men in Mount St. Mary's Seminary were gay.
This is why I wrote the book, "The Gay Face of God." It is my story and a good chunk of it is about me and the Church. So, I'm not actually a novice when it comes to things religious. Oh, by the way, while assigned to St. Matthews, I got a good up-close look at the Church and the Cardinals from across America who ran the American branch, as well as the Vatican Secretary of State. I wasn't impressed. Now all of this took place in the 80's, not now. But one of the young Bishops that I met then is now Cardinal O'Malley of Boston, and who was glued to the Popes arm practically this trip.
I will give the Pope credit for one very important step against hate. He has twice demoted Cardinal Burke who is stationed at the Vatican and is the senior Cardinal of America. Burke is not only viciously anti-gay, but opened challenged the Pope on various issues. He went from a Senior position in Rome, to essentially the Chaplain of the Knights of Malta. Chalk one up on the good side for Francis.
But in the end, the negatives on this issue outweigh any good he was thought to be doing. For the most damning result of his "permission," to deny U.S. law, is the message it sends to young gay male and female teens. This will impact them negatively at a time we are trying to lower their suicide rate in this country. For that Pope Francis, you bare the guilt and pending judgment for when you stand before God.