It’s been a slow news day today, so let’s talk about religion. Pope Francis, four months into his new gig, made headlines yesterday.
Normally when a prominent Catholic figure is in the news, it’s for pretty bad reasons. Not only because of the sexual abuse scandals that seem to pop up all too often, but elderly priests and pontiffs are often viewed upon as conservative, stubborn and simple-minded. They take the Bible too seriously, and their views are more in-line with traditional thinking of yesteryear.
But Francis made the newsstands for a more liberal and refreshing reason — his support for gays.
Aboard an airplane on his way back from Brazil, the 77-year-old expressed a very compassionate viewpoint. Here’s his full quote:
“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge? You can’t marginalize these people.”
Wait a minute, so … what the Pope is saying is that people should not be judged solely by their sexual orientation, but by how they behave as people? That’s outrageous! That’s heinous! That’s — oh wait. That’s exactly how it should be.
The fact that this quotation is being so celebrated is an indictment on the Catholic Church, because what he said should be extremely obvious to everybody.
Most people aren’t too interested in the pope, mainly because he’s old and wrinkly, and out of touch with today’s youth. And of course, most people don’t care because not everybody is Roman Catholic. Well, it’s finally nice to see that there is a leader out there who just seems like a normal dude.
And you know he’s being genuine because there’s nobody that he has to pacify. Unlike an elected official, he doesn’t need to say the right thing to appeal to potential voters. A pope serves a life term. He answers to no one but the almighty itself. He could have responded to that question by urinating on the reporter’s face, and there would be nothing that anybody in the world could do about it.
People laud presidents — like Barack Obama — when they come across as “normal people.” A common phrase is that they are someone who you’d like to have a beer with. Well, when is the last time somebody said they would like to have a beer with the pope? Well, with a quick statement on an airplane, Pope Francis just bumped himself up a few notches on people’s beermate list. On my list, he’s now somewhere between Ringo Starr and Celine Dion.
So again, it’s refreshing to see the pope in the news for a positive reason. And a reason that will actually catch the attention of young people, at that.
Of course he spoke the quote in Italian, and not English, so he may have said something completely and totally different and it could have gotten lost in translation. For all we knew he was making a comment about hot dogs.
But what should also be noted is how good of a summer it has been for gay people. First you had Neil Patrick Harris killing it as Tony’s host in early June for the third straight year, then there was the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on June 26 that same-sex couples are entitled to federal benefits, and now this.
Will this matter in the grand scheme of things? Probably not. Will people be rocking “I ❤ the Pope” tee shirts while donning a camuaro? Highly doubtful.
But it’s still hopeful to know that we have people in high power in the world who get it.