Written by Quinn Bourret (News Writer)
The Vatican has issued a decree officially banning Catholic priests from blessing gay marriage. The decree, signed by the generally liberal Pope Francis, has brought both surprise and disagreement over the issue of homosexuality and the Catholic church. The decision, issued on the 14th early this March, has brought forth disagreement between conservative Catholic parties and those that seek to accept homosexuality and the LGBT movement in general.
The decision seems quite strange at first considering Pope Francis’s history with the subject. In 2013, he made a statement in support of homosexuality, stating “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?” Just last November, he made statements supporting the idea of protecting same sex couples.
His opinion of homosexuality seems more complex. In a seemingly opposing direction, he has stated in the past that homosexuality worries him, and that gay priests should be celibate, among other things. In 2010, while still a Cardinal in Argentina, he attempted to stop the legalization of gay marriage.
His position on homosexuality is a interesting and is occupies a tight place between acceptance and the lack of it that reflects modern liberal values intermixed with older religious values. He supports homosexuality, but does not support gay marriage, and certainly does not support gay sex. While he believes in accepting all people, at one point suggesting that homosexuality is a part of God’s plan and that accepting homosexuality follows the teachings of Jesus, he also follows religious texts that determine that marriage is only to be between man and wife.
His move has enormous ramifications for LGBT members of the church. German Bishop Georg Bätzing has made a statement suggesting that decree, although not refuted, will not be the end-all decision on the matter. For a more liberal member of the church, his decision will likely put an end to increasing acceptance of LGBT rights. Future Popes are likely to follow the decree especially if they are more conservative than Francis on the issue. LBGT Catholics and other liberal Catholics who oppose the decision are unlikely to leave the church, but may feel disenfranchised by the decision and distance themselves from it, especially as LGBT rights increase in countries all around the world.