Pope Francis: Church cannot ‘condemn anyone for eternity and ISIS Publishes Propaganda Piece ‘Explaining’ Recent Antigay Atrocities

By Junior Mayema,

I think, it is about time for the Pope and all  religious leaders to start combating and condemning homophobia and transphobia by name.

Antigay violence and discrimination must be named and shamed by the church in order to leave religious extremists with 0 so-called defense mechanisms to commit human rights violation when they use religion and the word of God as a weapon of mass destruction this is just one example of how religious extremism is targeting LGBT human beings below :


The brutal murders of allegedly gay men by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which claims the killings were lawful executions for the “crime” of homosexuality under its unprecedented interpretation of Sharia Law, have been documented in what amounts to a perverse “explainer” article published by ISIS in its propaganda magazine last Thursday, reports NBC News.

The ISIS article and photos were published in its magazine, Dabiq. In addition to displaying images of the men’s horrific slayings, the propaganda piece also spelled out the militants’ rationale for committing the atrocities.

By “clamping down on sexual deviance,” ISIS says it will save the Muslim world from the “downward spiral” of morality that the West has allegedly suffered since the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

Some LGBT and human rights activists and journalists have complained that mainstream have given the militant occupiers along the Iraq-Syria border only meager coverage in terms of the growing number of antigay atrocities, such as the tragic death of a middle-aged man last month.

That victim may have survived being pushed while seated in a plastic chair from a seven-story building, as was reported by numerous news outlets. News reports, video, and photos from that execution seemed to indicate that the man may not only have been alive after hitting the ground, but may have been conscious before he was finally put to death by a stone-hurling crowd.

NBC News’ coverage Sunday of the recent executions of allegedly gay young men in ISIS-controlled regions of the Iraq-Syria border area put heavy emphasis on apparently newfound veracity of reports about the executions, based on the confirmation of the facts by a private security firm.

However, London’s Daily Mail newspaper, several LGBT news organizations, as well as human rights groups (not least among them, London-headquartered Syrian Observatory for Human Rights) had previously reported many of the same details of the executions now being reported by mainstream news outlets.

Flashpoint Partners is the security firm that “verified” news of the executions for NBC News. As it disclosed in its report Sunday about the ISIS propaganda piece, NBC News retains Flashpoint as a consultant.

Reports of the atrocities ISIS has committed against people because they were perceived to be gay have now been published and broadcast by news organizations worldwide, ranging from interest-focused media outlets and now by major American network news organizations. Although it’s not likely that will dissuade ISIS militants to change their ways, greater coverage of atrocities committed against LGBT people may send a message that much of society values human lives equally–regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.

NBC News cited an expert in the history of Shariah Law, who noted that the practice of throwing men accused of homosexuality to their deaths from the tallest building available is a “very obscure” reading of hardline Islam.

“What ISIS is doing in displaying this kind of thing is twofold,” researcher, Charlie Winterof the London-based anti-extremism think tank, Quilliam told NBC News. “It’s trying to shock and horrify the rest of the world but it’s also trying to give the impression that the Shariah that it practices is the purest form of Shariah.”

There are torturous practices that continues to happen targeting LGBT people and it is being done in the name of religion, in the name of sharia law, here is one example below:


Dr. Maged Louis in his office in Cairo. Maged Atef/BuzzFeed

CAIRO — When asked to explain what Cairo’s medical inspectors look for when they examine someone who’s been arrested for homosexuality, Dr. Maged Louis picked up a pen and started sketching an oval with sharp points on both ends.

“The shape of the hole will change,” he said. The anus “won’t be normal any more and will look like the female vagina.”

More than 150 people have been arrested on charges of homosexuality since President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took power just under two years ago, the largest roundup of alleged LGBT people in more than a decade in Egypt. Anal exams are a routine part of the investigation in such cases, and Louis has a role in overseeing all of them. He is the deputy director of the Justice Ministry’s Forensic Medical Authority, as well as the chief of forensic medicine for the Cairo police district.

“First we make them take the prostrate position — the position that Muslims take when they pray,” he said in an interview with BuzzFeed News. The tests are intended not just to determine whether someone has ever had anal sex, but also to detect “chronic homosexuals,” because the letter of Egyptian law only criminalizes men who engage in “habitual debauchery.” Louis said that he believed that in addition to their elongation, the anuses of “chronic homosexuals” also don’t clench when touched or don’t contract as tightly. They are smooth and lack the “corrugations” — wrinkles — found on “normal” anuses, he said. And though he denied that examiners penetrate subjects under examination, he also said they can detect a “chronic homosexual” if his anus can accept larger objects.

“A normal man’s anus can’t take more than one joint of the small finger,” he said.

International human rights and medical experts dismissed Louis’s checklist as having “no medical basis” and being “categorically not true.” Most of those interviewed by BuzzFeed News couldn’t contain their shock before all of the criteria were listed.

“I think you heard my laugh — I think that says it all,” said Dr. Joel Palefsky, a professor at the University of California San Francisco specializing in anal cancer who is president of the International Anal Neoplasia Society. “We run a clinic where we do anal examinations of thousands of patients … Never in my 20 years of doing this have I seen an anus that looks like a vagina.”

Human Rights Watch and other advocacy organizations have long denounced such anal exams — which are routine in several of the world’s roughly 80 countries that criminalize sodomy — as a form of torture that violates international law. Medical leaders in some of the countries where these exams are used have called for their abolition, such as in Lebanon.

But Louis was incredulous that anyone could doubt his inspectors’ work.

“All of what I said is science and written in books,” he said. “Doctors all over the world know that.”

The idea that inspectors are intentionally fabricating evidence because of their own homophobia isn’t what makes these exams so disturbing — though that does sometimes happen, according to defendants’ accounts. It’s that beliefs about homosexuality are leading doctors — some of whom have done extensive (and horrific) research into perfecting diagnostic techniques — to believe that what they are doing is science.

Men who were arrested by police looking for gays at a Cairo public bathhouse hide their faces after being acquitted. Amir Nabil / Via AP

One of the modern pioneers in anal examinations in Egypt was Dr. Aymen Fouda, Louis’ predecessor as deputy director of the Forensic Medical Authority, who went on to become chief medical inspector from 2005 through 2007.

During a 2003 interview with Scott Long, then-director of Human Rights Watch’s LGBT program, Fouda said the exams were based on techniques developed in Europe.

“In this kind of investigation there are six criteria which were established by the celebrated Frenchman [Auguste Ambroise] Tardieu,” Fouda said, referring to the 19th-century forensic doctor who published a book in 1857 called The Forensic Study of Assaults against Decency. In the book, Tardieu spelled out six “characteristic signs” of “habitual pederasty,” which included those described by Dr. Louis as well as sores and fissures. But, he wrote, “[t]he unique sign and the only unequivocal mark of pederasty” is an “infundibuliform” — or funnel-shaped — anus.

Fouda told Long that forensic experts were working on developing “new, advanced methods” to detect homosexuality “involving the use of electricity.” Fouda had co-authored a 1998 study published in a journal published by the Egyptian Society of Forensic Medical Sciences that experimented with inserting hypodermic needles into the muscle of the anus in “unanesthetized humans” which claimed to demonstrate that gay men’s anuses conduct electricity at a different rate. Other researchers continued experimenting with related methods, including a doctoral student who defended a dissertation at Ain Shams University — one of Egypt’s most prestigious — in 2003 entitled “Medico-legal Assessment of the Anal Sphincter Functions in Sodomists.”

Tardieu’s theories were suspect in Europe even when they were first published, said Khaled Fahmy, a historian of Egyptian forensic medicine at the American University of Cairo who has studied its translation into Arabic.

“Even back then this is a highly ideological book,” he told BuzzFeed News, part of a “morals campaign” that was a response to events in Paris at the time. And he thought it “would be shocking” to the Egyptian public if it were widely known that courts were continuing to treat examinations as serious evidence that were based on science that was 150 years old.

But, he speculated, they endure in part because they reinforce certain basic notions about homosexuality that circulate in Egypt: that it is like a disease, usually passed on to children through sexual abuse.

“There is a belief that this abuse during childhood will leave a physical mark, and it leaves a mark on the anus,” he said. “We now have a homosexual body — not only a homosexual character which is a defective character, but it has physical traces that a forensic doctor can discern.”

And though these anal exams now seem laughable in Europe and the United States, the belief that a detectable physical basis for sexual orientation persists into the 21st century. In 2010, the Czech Republic announced that it would stop subjecting gay refugees to a practice called “phallometry” or “penile plethysmography” — which involves attaching a pressure-sensing device to the refugee’s penis while he is shown heterosexual pornography — after it was denounced as “degrading treatment” by the United Nations Refugee Agency.

The same belief for a measurable sign of homosexuality also lingers in the hunt for a “gay gene,” suggests Graeme Reid, the current head of Human Rights Watch’s LGBT program. Though the argument that homosexuality is determined by biology has been very effective for the LGBT rights movement in the U.S. and Europe, Reid said, efforts to isolate a “gay gene” are also based on a simplistic, “flawed cultural assumption” about the biological basis of sexuality.

“The idea that there is kind of one causation for sexuality seems absurd given what we know about the complexity of human sexuality,” Reid said.

Special police officers rush some of 52 alleged homosexuals on trial into court in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2001. AP Photo/Philip Mark

Some defendants who have undergone anal exams in Egypt describe open cruelty on the part of the doctors. One of the defendants in Egypt’s largest homosexuality trials in recent history — the 2001 trial of 52 men that became known as the “Queen Boat” case — told Long of Human Rights Watch that the anal exam was one of the “two worst times in my life”; the other was when the judge sentenced him to two years in jail. “The doctors treated us like pigs,” said another quoted in Long’s report on the trial, and several noted that their degradation was compounded by the fact that they were forced to assume a sexually subservient position in front of women. Anal exams are far from the only intrusive practice that appears to be becoming more common in Sisi’s Egypt — “virginity tests” for women who are arrested are also making a comeback since the military reasserted control, and Sisi has personally defended the practice.

Fahmy said that some of the doctors “may” see themselves as administering a form of punishment through these exams. But he thinks in most cases, the doctors “would be thinking this is not torture; they’re not really humiliating them.” A man who has allowed another to penetrate him — which carries much greater stigma than doing the penetrating — has already lost his honor in the eyes of many Egyptians, and so these exams seem like nothing by comparison.

Doctors likely believe that “these are people who have forfeited their honor to begin with,” Fahmy said. “By being who they are, by being homosexual, they effectively have forfeited the constitutional protection that they are entitled to.”

Because these “examinations have no forensic or evidentiary value for consensual homosexual acts,” Human Rights Watch maintains that doctors who perform them violate the United Nations Principles of Medical Ethics, which says physicians should not “apply their knowledge and skills in order to assist in the interrogation of prisoners and detainees in a manner that may adversely affect [their] physical or mental health or condition.”

And there is no doubt that these exams are absurd, say doctors practicing in the United States. Dr. Ross Cranston, director of the Anal Dysplasia Clinic and Research Program in the University of Pittsburgh Division of Infectious Diseases, said not all gay men have anal sex regularly or at all, and that no credible study has ever shown any clear difference in things like muscle strength.

“I could not tell a gay anal canal from a straight anal canal,” Cranston said. “There’s no typical sign of the gay anal canal.”

Human Rights Watch’s Reid said the organization will begin a project this spring to document how common anal exams are and the role of medical practitioners in them. The organization has documented them in at least six countries in the course of investigating specific cases of abuse, but no comprehensive review has ever been done to establish how widespread they are. And it’s not clear, Reid said, whether “there’s a collaboration between medical examiners and police to deliberately subject people to humiliation and torture, or medical examiners genuinely believe that this has some kind of a medical basis.”

Anecdotal reports suggest there is a good deal of skepticism about anal exams even in countries with notoriously homophobic regimes. In Uganda, for example, anal exams are “the first line of investigation” when someone is arrested for homosexuality, said Adrian Jjuuko, director of the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, which often provides legal support in cases involving LGBT rights. A Ugandan man who was arrested for homosexuality along with two others in November told BuzzFeed News that police stuck their hands down their pants when they were first detained to “see if we had Pampers,” believing “gays put diapers on themselves” because anal sex causes incontinence.

But despite the police’s fixation on the anus, Jjuuko said, “the state does not use [anal exams] as evidence.”

The amount of research Egypt’s forensic experts appear to have invested in anal exams would seem to set them apart. It’s not clear whether the doctors who perform the exams have the same rigor — Long collected reports from defendants in the 2001 case who said investigators reached their conclusions based on the fact that they appeared feminine or had no hair on their chests.

Belief in the scientific rigor of anal exams is widely shared in Egypt. Medical examiners aren’t just a tool the police use to simply rubber-stamp charges — in fact, they’ve contradicted the charges in Egypt’s two most high-profile homosexuality trials under Sisi’s regime.

During the trial last month of 26 men accused of participating in a “gay sex party” at a working-class bathhouse, it wasn’t prosecutors who introduced the results of the anal exams, but the defense. Prosecutors didn’t introduce thembecause only three of the men were found to have been sexually “used,” contradicting the testimony of the arresting officer, who claimed to have personally witnessed multiple couples engaged in anal sex.

All 26 men were acquitted in January, the first time defendants had been acquitted on charges of homosexuality in a high-profile case since Sisi began controlling Egypt. But an exam pronouncing a defendant’s anus “un-used” is not a guarantee of acquittal. Examiners routinely add a disclaimer to reports when they find no evidence of penetration that says anal sex can be undetectable if it happens with “full consent, taking the right position, and the use of lubricants.” And in another recent case — in which eight men were prosecuted based on a YouTube video prosecutors alleged was of a same-sex wedding — all were sentenced to a year in jail despite the fact that medical examiners said there was no evidence of penetration.

Even some Egyptian lawyers who support LGBT rights don’t question the legitimacy of the exams.

In some cases, attorneys even demand police send their clients for forensic exams in the hopes that it will refute the charges. Mohamed Abo Zakry, a defense attorney with an organization representing seven of the defendants in the bathhouse case, reacted as if it were a stupid question when asked about challenging the legitimacy of the tests during an interview with BuzzFeed News just before the acquittal in January.

“We cannot say the exams are not accurate,” Zakry said. “They are accurate. Any [doctor] who has experience can see clearly if this guy is gay or not.”

Transgender people continue to be killed in the United States and most of the killing are being done in honor of being christian so those are honor killings because the majority of antigay people in the United States are christians and below is the perceptive of what is happening in the USA :


 Posted by: Janet    Posted date:  February 16, 2015

Categories:  GirlsLikeUs, Trans in the Media, Trans Women of Color, TWoC Violence


FEBRUARY 16, 2015
This morning I read about the murder of Bri Golec in Ohio. She was stabbed to death by her father. She was only 22 years old. Her death marks the sixth trans woman to be reported murdered in the U.S. in 2015. It’s not even March.

The other five women are*:
Lamia Beard, 30, Norfolk, VA
Taja DeJeus, 36, San Francisco, CA
Penny Proud, 21, New Orleans, LA
Ty Underwood, 24, North Tyler, TX
Yazmin Vash Payne, 33, Los Angeles, CA

As the New York City Anti-Violence Project noted in their tweet about Golec’s murder, “This time in 2014 we knew of no homicides of Trans women in the US. As of now there are AT LEAST SIX.”

This time in 2014, just a year ago, Laverne Cox and Carmen Carrera had publicly challenged Katie Couric; I sparred about language and identity on CNN; Cox’s Netflix series Orange Is the New Blackwas preparing for its second season; and my memoir had landed on the New York Times bestsellers list. This was the highest media saturation for trans women of color in U.S. history. As a writer and journalist, I had been forecasting the game-changing moment that was soon to come in May: Cox, a black trans woman from Mobile, Alabama, appearing on the cover of Time magazine.

After decades of erasure, trans women of color were finally garnering mainstream attention. Cox used her time in the pop cultural spotlight to not only advance her acting career, but to tell the stories of women like CeCe McDonald. We both stood behind Monica Jones as she resisted police profiling in Phoenix, Arizona, and trans Latina teen Jane Doe as she was unlawfully held in an adult prison.

Personally, I know that my visibility has to be more than just about my own pursuits. When I walk into a space, I am cognizant of the fact that I am bringing communities of people with me, communities that have historically been exiled and silenced. The weight of that responsibility never lightens, even as Inavigate uncharted terrain as a TV host. My show So POPular! explores the intersection of popular culture, representation, politics, identity and community. Though it doesn’t explicitly cover trans issues, it’s a space created and fronted by a trans woman of color, so the lens to which I explore topics on my show is that of a trans person, a black person, a woman of color. My goal is to take the focus away from myself as a subject, and instead be the person asking the questions, shaping the conversation.

I’ve seen folks juxtapose the recent media visibility of trans women of color and these recent murders. I’ve read sentences to the effect of: “At a time when trans women of color have visibility, we still see trans women murdered.” I find this logic to be quite basic.

Yes, trans women are being murdered. Yes, trans women of color have gained mainstream visibility. But trans women, particularly those of color, have always been targeted with violence. The differences now? There are some systems in place that better report violence and there is finally visibility of a select few that helps challenge the media’s framing of these women’s lives.

But cultural representation is just one piece of the social justice pie, and we must be clear about one thing: Trans women of color have had one year of visibility in the media, after decades of erasure (think about how many times historians, archivists, filmmakers or books mention the revolutionary work ofSylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson or Miss Major Griffin-Gracy). It’ll take more than a year of a few trans women in media to transform decades of structural oppression and violence, decades of misinformation, decades of exiling.

We are not existing in a fairytale where the very recent successes of a few individuals — whether that’s Laverne or Carmen or me — could quickly and radically transform the lives of our sisters who are resisting in already struggling communities, who are navigating poverty, homelessness, and joblessness while also facing high medical and educational costs, police profiling and incarceration as well as HIV/AIDS, the risks of underground economies as well as the looming threat and reminders of violence.

When I appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher last week, I mentioned the violence that trans women, particularly those from low-income and/or people of color communities face, during the show’s “Overtime” segment.

“There is a lot of violence, right?” Maher asked

I nodded and responded: “So much of it is linked to the idea that women are not valued, people of color are not valued and trans people are often invalidated in our society. So when you throw that all into one person’s body, there’s a lot of targeting that comes into that space. We need to have a national outrage over these bodies that no one is protecting.”

Maher then said, “I thought, and maybe I’m wrong, that the violence came because the transgender person didn’t tell the guy about their past and then the guy kissed her or something and then found out. And he’s like, ‘Oh now, I’m a homo.”

I challenged Maher by telling him that trans women are not being targeted solely because men find themselves attracted to us. No woman deserves violence. Period. We do not exist to “trick” or “deceive” men into sleeping with us. Trans women are targeted because we exist at vulnerable intersections of race, gender and class. My sisters are vulnerable because no one movement has ever centered the bodies, lives and experiences of these women, except for the severely underfunded, largely volunteer-staffed work of organizations run by and for our communities (from TGIJP, Casa Ruby, TransLatina Coalition, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, TWOCC, TransJustice, to name a few).

Trans women of color dangerously fall in between the cracks of racial justice, feminist and LGbt movements.

Our visibility at this particular moment in culture is helping reshape the narrative of trans women’s lives, it’s helping those who may not know a trans person get familiar with the lives and struggles of trans people, it’s helping push media gatekeepers to report on our lives with a more just and true lens (though it still seems to be struggling when it comes to Bruce Jenner’s alleged transition). What we can’t expect this visibility to do is cure our society of its longstanding prejudice, miseducation and myths surrounding trans women.

Even on the most liberal shows, trans women are still often punch lines (see any lazy joke targeting Jenner’s femininity and body). Even in our moment in the media spotlight, one fallen white trans bodygarners mainstream headlines over the consistent murders of those that are black and brown. Even in movements organizing against violence against women or black and brown bodies, trans women of color’s bodies are not prone to mass mobilization and I watch as my sisters and siblings speak with one another about protecting trans bodies with hashtags #blacktranslivesmatter and #translivesmatter.

I point out these disparities in an effort to better frame this moment we’re existing in, as someone who has been privileged with access to visibility, as someone who grew up with little access to mirrors that represented me. I am humbled that I can be one such mirror for girls growing up like I did. Representation is an affirming start, but it’s not everything.

There’s much we should be applauding, yet as we applaud, we must also be aware of those women existing outside of the media’s narrow lens, the women organizing, the women on the streets hustling, the women rejected from shelters and improperly placed in men’s detention and prison facilities, the women volunteering their limited resources to support communities of trans folk who’ve been overwhelming neglected by movements.

The names of our sisters shouldn’t only make headlines when we walk a red carpet or lay in a casket. Our visibility shouldn’t be subject to such extreme circumstances. We’ve grown too accustomed, in the past year, to speaking the names of Laverne Cox and Janet Mock, and giving ourselves social justice cred for doing so. This is dangerously tokenizing and speaks to the hypervisibility of women of color who are expected to not only carry their dreams but the dreams of an entire race and people with them.

It’s part of the reason why I am weary of amplifying these women’s deaths because it often feels like these women’s names are only spoken by the majority of us when they can no longer respond. But I must speak their names and when I do, I am aware that my sisters do not need to be reminded of their vulnerability and the threat of violence that looms over their lives.

*Much gratitude to Mitch Kellaway who has been consistently reporting on each of these women’s deaths with an intersectional lens.

New York Times bestselling author of “Redefining Realness & Host of MSNBC’s “So POPular!” Tweet me

It is about time for the church to name and shame religious extremism targeting LGBT human being, here is what the Pope stated below:

Pope Francis: Church cannot ‘condemn anyone for eternity’


Pope Francis’ Homily to New Cardinals Echoes Themes Dear to LGBT People

Pope Francis delivering homily to cardinals

While Pope Francis may not have spoken about LGBT themes in his Sunday homilyto the Cardinals gathered in Rome for a consistory this past weekend, his message certainly can be easily applied to this community which has too often been ignored or ostracized by Church leaders.  His talk is filled with echoes of how LGBT people have too often been mistreated in church and society. (You can read the full text by clickinghere.)

Speaking about Sunday’s Gospel where Jesus heals a leper (Mark 1:40-45), the pope exhorted the new cardinals to conduct a ministry of outreach to the marginalized.  He began by noting:

“Compassion leads Jesus to concrete action: he reinstates the marginalized!”

While Pope Francis did not mention LGBT people by name, the details of his description of marginalization will surely ring true to many of these people who have experienced suffering and oppression during their lifetimes:

“Imagine how much suffering and shame lepers must have felt: physically, socially, psychologically and spiritually! They are not only victims of disease, but they feel guilty about it, punished for their sins! Theirs is a living death; they are like someone whose father has spit in his face (cf. Num 12:14).

“In addition, lepers inspire fear, contempt and loathing, and so they are abandoned by their families, shunned by other persons, cast out by society. Indeed, society rejects them and forces them to live apart from the healthy. It excludes them. So much so that if a healthy person approached a leper, he would be punished severely, and often be treated as a leper himself.”

The allusion to LGBT people is particularly strong, since so much of the oppression and marginalization that they experience is due to church institutions, structures, and leaders.  Pope Francis criticizes such ritualistically pure actions:

“Jesus, the new Moses, wanted to heal the leper. He wanted to touch him and restore him to the community without being “hemmed in” by prejudice, conformity to the prevailing mindset or worry about becoming infected. Jesus responds immediately to the leper’s plea, without waiting to study the situation and all its possible consequences! For Jesus, what matters above all is reaching out to save those far off, healing the wounds of the sick, restoring everyone to God’s family! And this is scandalous to some people!

“Jesus is not afraid of this kind of scandal! He does not think of the closed-minded who are scandalized even by a work of healing, scandalized before any kind of openness, by any action outside of their mental and spiritual boxes, by any caress or sign of tenderness which does not fit into their usual thinking and their ritual purity. He wanted to reinstate the outcast, to save those outside the camp (cf.Jn 10).”

Church leaders, he adds, must make it their priority to go beyond their comfort zones and approach people they might not otherwise be inclined to associate with:

“The Church’s way, from the time of the Council of Jerusalem, has always always been the way of Jesus, the way of mercy and reinstatement. . . . The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone for eternity; to pour out the balm of God’s mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart. The way of the Church is precisely to leave her four walls behind and to go out in search of those who are distant, those essentially on the ‘outskirts’ of life. . . .

“Dear new Cardinals, this is the ‘logic,’ the mind of Jesus, and this is the way of the Church. Not only to welcome and reinstate with evangelical courage all those who knock at our door, but to go out and seek, fearlessly and without prejudice, those who are distant, freely sharing what we ourselves freely received. ‘Whoever says: “I abide in [Christ],” ought to walk just as he walked’ (1 Jn 2:6). Total openness to serving others is our hallmark, it alone is our title of honour!”

While in other talks,  Pope Francis has revealed that he does not support marriage equality, there was one section from his homily today, which could easily be applied to an argument in support of marriage equality.  Too often, we hear from marriage equality opponents the false threat that extending marriage to gay and lesbian couples will harm heterosexual couples. Pope Francis’ logic in the following section shows that such thinking is inconsistent with Gospel values:

“In healing the leper, Jesus does not harm the healthy. Rather, he frees them from fear. He does not endanger them, but gives them a brother. He does not devalue the law but instead values those for whom God gave the law. Indeed, Jesus frees the healthy from the temptation of the ‘older brother’ (cf.Lk 15:11-32), the burden of envy and the grumbling of the labourers who bore “the burden of the day and the heat” (cf. Mt 20:1-16).”

Let me be clear that I do not think that Pope Francis is criticizing the gay-marriage-threatens-straight-marriage argument.  What I am saying is that the logic and Gospel values he extols in this homily contradict the type of thinking that such an argument carries.

And, as I mentioned, I don’t think that the pope was necessarily speaking of LGBT people in this homily. The descriptions he offers, however,  very much apply to the LGBT experience.  I believe that Pope Francis was discussing all sorts of marginalization experienced by a wide variety of human groups.

Pope Francis has not been as forthright about supporting lesbian and gay relationships as was once thought by

many.   But his call to new cardinals to reach out to the marginalized can be thought of as making it possible for church leaders to initiate much greater outreach to LGBT people than they have been doing.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Still, the New Ways leaders and many gay Catholics see real reasons for hope, and not just for themselves.

Since the start of his papacy, Francis has sought to shift the hierarchy’s focus away from what he said is an “obsession” with sexual issues and toward a greater concern for the poor and all those rejected by the church and society, a social justice priority that many gay Catholics also share.

In addition, LGBT Catholics see the shift toward open discussion of a range of topics as good for the church, and themselves.

“While LGBT Catholics hope for changes, they are realistic enough to know that Francis may not make those changes,” said DeBernardo. “But he is doing things that will help their spiritual lives.”

DeBernardo said many gay Catholics are not looking for approval from the church as much an acknowledgment of their existence and a willingness to “treat them as human beings.”

A photo-op or shout-out at Wednesday’s audience might be one such acknowledgement. “We take the long view,” Gramick said, “and every step is progress.”


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