Catholicism isn't exactly the most tolerant religion when it comes to LGBTQ issues. Although Pope Francis has been relatively amenable to gays and queers compared to previous leaders of the faith, his most recent comments about "gender theory" and transgender people prove that he's still rather behind the times in a lot of ways.
A few days ago, Francis was asked to explain his position on sexual minorities. Catholic News reports that the direct conduit to God claimed that "Catholics who are homosexual, confused about their sexuality or convinced they were born in the wrong body deserve the same attentive pastoral care as anyone else." But, confusingly, he also stated that he was opposed to the "indoctrination of gender theory," and that the idea that gender is a choice is "against nature."
"It is one thing for a person to have this tendency, this option and even to have a sex change, but it is another thing to teach this in schools in order to change mentalities. This I call ideological colonization," he said, adding that "gender theory" is “the great enemy of marriage ... the whole world is at war trying to destroy marriage.”
The pope also condemned priests who "would shout at [a transgender person] from the sidewalk, ‘You will got to hell!’”
Confused yet? Wait, it gets worse.
"We must be attentive, not saying all are the same," he continued. "Every case: Welcome it, accompany it, study it, discerning and integrating. This is what Jesus would do today."
But then later: "
"Please. Don't say, 'The pope will bless transgender people,' OK? I want to be clear. It is a moral problem. It is a problem. A human problem. And it must be resolved the best one can — always with the mercy of God, with the truth" and "always with an open heart."
The pope's statements have been widely criticized by LGBT people of faith. Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA, an organization of Catholics "working for justice, equality, and full inclusion of LGBTQ Catholics in the Church and society," had this to say: “Pope Francis sets up a false dichotomy in pitting people’s basic human right to be who they are against marriage. We know marriage to be a sacred and beautiful thing. We believe marriage, and all of society, will be strengthened when people are no longer pressured to bring false selves into a marriage, and can make this profound commitment honestly. Too many lives have been ruined by gay people trying to live in heterosexual marriages, or by people being forced to live in a gender that is not authentic for them.”
It seems unfortunate that the emphasis of this counter-argument is on marriage and not on the fact that the pope just called transgender people a "problem." Get it together, you guys.
[Photo: Getty Images]