Rev Irene Monroe

Pope Francis Has Transparent Views on Trans People

Filed By Rev Irene Monroe | February 26, 2015 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Catholic Church, Catholicism, nuclear weapons, Pope Francis, transgender

francis.jpgPope Francis is a complicated (if not confusing) pontiff to the LGBTQ community -- especially to the transgender community.

On the surface Francis displays a pastoral countenance to his papacy that extends to all of our community. Remember the pope's remarks when flying home after a weeklong visit to Brazil in 2013 (which set off global shockwaves) after he was queried about the much talked-about "gay lobby" in the Vatican:

"When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them? They shouldn't be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem ... they're our brothers."

This public statement is the most LGBTQ-affirmative remarks the world has ever heard from the Catholic Church.

In 2013 The Advocate, a nationally-renowned and respected magazine, named Pope Francis their "Person of the Year." Editor Lucas Grindley wrote:

"When deciding who was the single most influential person of 2013 on the lives of LGBT people, there are obvious choices. At least, they seem so at first... Pope Francis is leader of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics all over the world."

Pope Francis's stark change in rhetoric from his two predecessors -- both of whom were at one time or another among The Advocate's annual "Phobie" honorees -- makes what he's done in 2013 all the more daring, The Advocate wrote.

Just below Francis's LGBTQ pastoral message, however, the damaging and homophobic ecclesiastical edicts and theological teachings hold firm -- thanks to Francis.

The most recent example is a quote from the pontiff in a new tome, Pope Francis: This Economy Kills. Francis compares transgender people to nuclear weapons. His reason is that gender theory destroys and desecrates God's holy and ordained order of creation.

The Pope made the following remarks:

"Let's think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings. Let's think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation."

"With this attitude, man commits a new sin, that against God the Creator. The true custody of creation does not have anything to do with the ideologies that consider man like an accident, like a problem to eliminate."

"God has placed man and woman and the summit of creation and has entrusted them with the earth. The design of the Creator is written in nature."

Francis's clear denunciation of our present-day gender theories and understanding of the fluidity of human gender and sexuality not only perpetuates spiritual harm and alienation to our trans community but it also unwittingly invites physical harm -- done in the name of God with righteous wrath and indignation.

In 2000 The Catholic Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith also denounced the existence of transgender people:

"The key point is that the transsexual surgical operation is so superficial and external that it does not change the personality. If the person was a male, he remains male. If she was female, she remains female."

rainbow-catholic.jpgUnlike his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI (a.k.a. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who used his authoritarian "Rottweiler" persona to maintain an ecclesiastical lockdown on the churches progressives, Francis's conciliatory demeanor is shockingly disarming and inviting. His views on gay priests, while not quite in lockstep with those of his Catholic LGBTQ parishioners and allies, has moved the farthest of any pontiff in history. Nonetheless, his views on the surface are only superficially progressive.

While it might be argued that the Pope's understanding of human sexual orientation is expanding and his concern for the dignity and humanity of LGBTQ people is genuine, the pontiff is still a doctrinal conservative who holds largely to the Catholic Church's teachings about us. And sadly, Francis's views on the role of women within the Catholic Church are both retrograde and spiritually abusive.

Like Benedict, Pope Francis was in the same camp of condemning clerics suppressing the growth of liberation theologies in Third-World countries (the emerging face of the Catholic Church) for their supposed Marxist leanings that exposed classism.

However, liberation theologies combine Christian theology with political activism on issues dealing with human rights and social justice. Liberation theologies emphasize the biblical themes that God's actions on behalf of the enslaved, the poor, and outcasts like women, people of color, and LGBTQ people (just to name a few) are a central paradigm for a faith that embraces the world -- as it exists today -- from an engaged and committed stance that does justice.

It's not enough for Francis to say he embraces our community. He must also do it.

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