Well folks, it’s been quite the surprise, hearing Pope Francis say in that documentary that he’s a supporter for gay civil unions. Or maybe it’s no surprise at all, given his past hints at what his beliefs are?

I read an objective review of his remarks by America Magazine, a Catholic magazine.

As portrayed in the documentary, the pope says: “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it. What we have to have is a civil union law—that way they are legally covered. I supported that.”

Explainer: What Pope Francis actually said about civil unions—and why it matters

This is an important first step towards LGBTQ+ inclusion. Of course, this is merely the Pope’s remark’s not a mandate that will change church doctrine. And naturally, as the article from America Magazine notes, this doesn’t mean that Pope Francis is in favor of gay marriage.

But as the pope has often said, this does not mean that he believes that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. On a number of occasions, Francis has warned against threats to the institution of marriage and described marriage as “between a man and a woman.” Accepting gay family members or accommodating same-sex partnerships in civil law, he said, “does not mean approving of homosexual acts.”

Explainer: What Pope Francis actually said about civil unions—and why it matters

This point was further hammered home by this article I read.

“The Holy Father clearly differentiated between a civil arrangement which accords mutual benefits to two people, and marriage. The former, he said, can in no way be equated to marriage, which remains unique.” Cordileone said. “I would add that a civil union of this type (one which is not equated to marriage) should be as inclusive as possible, and not be restricted to two people of the same sex in a presumed sexual relationship.”

Cordileone went on to say that, “There is no reason, for example, why a brother and a sister, both of whom are unmarried and support each other, should not have access to these kinds of benefits.”

S.F. archbishop responds to Pope’s endorsement of same-sex unions

Naturally, this revelation has not sat well with all members of the Catholic Church. This here is a compilation from LifeSite News of Catholic clergy denouncing the Pope’s remarks.

Here’s also an article from the Independent regarding some of the backlash.

Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, was one of the first conservative Catholic leaders to go public with criticism.

“The Pope’s statement clearly contradicts what has been the long-standing teaching of the Church about same-sex unions,” Tobin said in a statement. “The Church cannot support the acceptance of objectively immoral relationships.”

US reactions to pope backing same-sex civil unions: ‘The Church cannot support objectively immoral relationships’

Oho, and I haven’t gotten to what might be the most underhanded reaction I’ve read regarding this matter. This is from an article published today by CNSNews.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, authored a pastoral letter on the care of homosexual persons that was distributed to the bishops of the Catholic Church in 1986 that noted that St. Paul had listed “those who behave in a homosexual fashion among those who shall not enter the kingdom of God.”

Pope Bendict XVI: St. Paul ‘Lists Those Who Behave in Homosexual Fashion Among Those Who Shall Not Enter the Kingdom of God’

Please, let’s be honest here, folks. CNSNews created this article in response to the Pope’s remarks. This isn’t at all subtle.

Reading the pastoral letter that Pope Benedict XVI wrote was incredibly uncomfortable. It’s clear that denouncers of the idea of gay civil unions will be mentioning this following passage in their arguments against it.

“To chose someone of the same sex for one’s sexual activity is to annul the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the goals, of the Creator’s sexual design. Homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life; and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living. This does not mean that homosexual persons are not often generous and giving of themselves; but when they engage in homosexual activity they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent.”

Pope Benedict XVI’s Pastoral Letter

This is the “pretty” end of religious-based denouncing of gay individuals. I absolutely despise the fact that, in the eyes of the Catholic Church at present, any “homosexual acts” I ever plan on making are “intrinsically disordered”. Delightful!

This last article I’ll share for this post appeared deeper in my Internet spree this evening, an article from 1999 regarding the Religious Right’s obsession with gay people. Let none of us every forget that there were, and most likely still are, American religious authorities who believe that gay people deserve the death penalty. It’s because of views like these that Pope Francis’s words are so important.

Some of the Religious Right’s anti-gay preaching is even harsher. Leaders of the Christian Reconstructionist movement, which advocates imposing the Old Testament’s legal code on the United States, argue that homosexual acts should merit the death penalty. Such rhetoric may seem limited to obscure theocratic movements, but it can influence the more well known Religious Right groups as well. Several Religious Right organizations, including the Christian Coalition, have promoted and sold Reconstructionist George Grant’s 1993 book Legislating Immorality: The Homosexual Movement Comes Out of the Closet, which says the Bible requires the death penalty for homosexuality.

The Religious Right’s Gay Agenda

I shared with God all of the bitter things I had to say, after I finished my uncomfortable trip down this Internet rabbit-hole into the not-so-distant homophobia of the 90’s. It’s for the best that I don’t repeat the vitriolic things I said to Him, because it wouldn’t accomplish anything.

But I will say, everything I’ve read tonight about how people like me have been treated by religious authorities makes me sick. How can they claim to be doing God’s will and loving their neighbor when they’re going around blatantly slandering and making false-witness accusations against us? Especially when there’s a strong chance that some of them do this to get money?

More than anything, I despise the fact that by labeling people like me as “immoral” or even worse, religious authorities continuously lump us in with truly evil people. Y’know, murderers, and the like. Yet somehow, being gay and wanting a gay relationship is just as bad.

What a nightmare this must’ve been, to grow up in the 90’s as an LGBTQ+ adult and have to deal with this insane obsession with us from the Religious Right. This is why I’m grateful to hear Pope Francis’s stance, even if it isn’t the biggest leap forward. What we need is at least this, a willingness towards a common ground, something that’s been denied too many times.