Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pope Francis and Gay Marriage: More Valuable Commentary

And, to complement what I just posted vis-a-vis recent commentary about Pope Francis and the dirty war, here's a selection of recent statements on his response to the Argentinian government's implementation of marriage equality: 

Writing today in the New York Times, Simon Romero and Emily Schmall note that Bergoglio dealt with the Argentinian government's decision to grant same-sex couples the right of civil marriage in a pragmatic way, by proposing Catholic support for civil unions as the lesser of two evils:

Faced with the near certain passage of the gay marriage bill, Cardinal Bergoglio offered the civil union compromise as the “lesser of two evils,” said Sergio Rubin, his authorized biographer. “He wagered on a position of greater dialogue with society.” 
In the end, though, a majority of the bishops voted to overrule him, his only such loss in his six-year tenure as head of Argentina’s bishops’ conference. But throughout the contentious political debate, he acted as both the public face of the opposition to the law and as a bridge-builder, sometimes reaching out to his critics.

Romero and Schmall also quote a social worker who works in the communications department of the Argentinian bishops' central office, Roxana Alfieri, who sees Bergoglio's pragmatic stand about civi unions as an expression of his commitment to human rights: Alfieri says,

He didn’t want the church to take a position of condemning people but rather of respect for their rights like any vulnerable person.

At Religion Dispatches today, Elizabeth Drescher also reprises the discussion of Bergoglio's support for same-sex civil unions (as distinct from same-sex marriage) as marriage equality came to Argentina. Drescher notes that Christopher Hale has been discussing these issues at the Millennial blog site, and that Hale provides a number of links to reports on this topic. She also observes,

While Bergoglio followed the Jesuit practice of obedience in toeing the official line against any formalization of LGBT relationships, the doctrinal flexibility expressed in his initial approach to the issue seems yet another sign that Pope Francis is not wedded (if we may) to the doctrinal and pastoral rigidness of his predecessors. 

(Drescher's preceding statement has an embedded link that appears not to be working.) 

Finally, here's more valuable testimony from Argentinian priest Nicol├ís Alessio, who was suspended from ministry due to his support for marriage equality in Argentina: at her Iglesia Descalza site, Rebel Girl translates an article of Alessio's from Pagina/12. Alessio sees the election of Bergoglio to the papacy as a "masterstroke of Vatican diplomacy," which is all about projecting a new image to offset the tarnished image the Vatican now has due to financial and sexual scandals.

He thinks the concern to which Bergoglio's election points is now a concern to offset the ideas and influence of liberation theology in Latin America--and, in particular, to address the growing power of leftist ideas in Argentina, which has led the way in Latin America in accepting marriage equality. Alessio writes, 

Argentina is a model for the whole continent on these issues and also a model for all people who are victims of different forms of state terrorism and homophobia. Rome cannot forgive this, tolerate it, or let it go on -- it undermines its purported image of heavenly holiness. 
Many have been left with the feeling that something is beginning to change and they speak of having "hope". I think it's just that, a feeling. Or a great desire that has become an illusion. Furthermore, it's worth remembering that Christian hope isn't based on the Vatican, much less on the Papacy. It is only based on the Jesus of the Gospels.

More thought-provoking commentary on a topic about which I suspect we'll be hearing a great deal more in days to come . . . .

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