FFRF to pope: The ‘sin’ is the church’s, not LGBTQ individuals

Pope Francis PR credit Mazurcatholicnews

Many observers, even pro-LGBTQ groups, are falling all over themselves to congratulate Pope Francis on his remark during a recent interview that “being homosexual is not a crime.”

In a world where 67 nations in fact criminalize homosexuality, as well as in a church which has made anti-LGBTQ policies and laws a global campaign, the pope’s comment is certainly newsworthy and clearly a positive step. Given the disproportionate attention the pope receives from international media, his statement that no one “should be discriminated against” and agreement that the church should work toward repeal of these laws is potentially a game changer.

However, the pope followed up this sentiment with the obnoxious affirmation that homosexuality itself is a “sin.” In the same interview with the Associated Press, he continued: “First, let us distinguish sin from crime. But it is also a sin to lack charity with one another.”

It is really stating the obvious for the Freedom From Religion Foundation to point out that being gay or engaging in homosexual acts is not a “sin.” The “sin,” to borrow the church’s terminology, lies with the Catholic Church and other fundamentalist religious groups that have doggedly continued to discriminate and lobby to enact discriminatory laws and policies.

Clearly, Francis is trying to move his church forward on this issue. He’s tussled with other Vatican officials in making previous semi-conciliatory statements on being gay, such as in 2020, when the Vatican stepped in to clarify that the church’s position on civil unions had not changed after he seemed to endorse same-sex civil unions. In 2013, in speaking about priests who are gay, Francis ambiguously asked: “Who am I to judge?”

Francis has continued to soften the Vatican’s black-and-white pronouncements, contrasting with the bludgeon wielded by his predecessor, the recently deceased Benedict XVI. Yet, little has changed. The Doctrine of the Faith under his watch in 2021 barred priests from blessing same-sex unions, calling them “not licit.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, working alongside Protestant fundamentalists, is currently winning the war against abortion rights in the United States, as well as Poland, successfully reversing decades of legal abortion in both nations.

The pope has in the recent past made some progressive-sounding remarks about the church’s crisis of sexual abuse against minors by priests and other Catholic officials. He has vowed for more transparency: “With transparency comes a very beautiful thing, which is shame.” He continued: I prefer a church that is ashamed because it discovers its sins, which God forgives.” Although Francis then added that “God does not forgive [the church hiding its sins],” his pronouncement that the church’s sins can be “forgiven by God” is morally bankrupt, just another excuse to minimize the church’s unforgivable ethical and legal transgressions.

“Forgiveness of sin” is a theological construct the church has hidden behind for decades to sweep sexual abuse under the rug. Sadly, this comment is yet another instance of the Catholic Church being all talk and no real new action when it comes to reform. Francis is a frontispiece for a church whose hoary doctrines against abortion and women’s and LGBTQ rights stand still, just like the bible they’re based on.

While Francis’ comments affect “hearts and minds” of laypersons within his flock, don’t expect to see any time soon the Vatican or the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to begin lobbying for decriminalization of anti-LGBTQ laws.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 39,000 members across the country. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Photo copyright: Mazur/catholicnews

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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