Can we stop praising Pope Francis for being “progressive?”
When it comes to social issues, the Catholic Church still bars women from taking leadership roles within the church, still opposes marriage equality, and still opposes changes to employment discrimination laws worldwide.
In 2010, when his home country of Argentina was debating whether or not to pass legislation that would allow same sex marriage, then Cardinal, he condemned marriage equality as a “destructive attack on God’s plan.”
In an attempt to prevent this law from going into effect, the future Pope penned this letter to Argentina’s cloistered nuns:
In the coming weeks, the Argentine people will face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family…At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.
Let’s not be naive: This is not a simple political fight; it is a destructive proposal to God’s plan. This is not a mere legislative proposal (that’s just it’s form), but a move by the father of lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God… Let’s look to St. Joseph, Mary, and the Child to ask fervently that they defend the Argentine family in this moment… May they support, defend, and accompany us in this war of God.
To be clear, what then Archbishop Bergoglio did was attempt to use his religious clout to turn the public against a law that had greater than 70% public approval at the time. This is a far cry from the “who am I to judge” attitude the Pope has shown as of late.
Also in 2010, Bergoglio spoke out against gay adoption, claiming that it was a “form of discrimination against children.” This statement earned the future Pope a rebuke from Argentina’s President, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
Even in Pope Francis’ fluffier of statements, he never walked back any of the anti-transgender statements made by the previous Pope (Benedict) in his Christmas 2012 speech. In that speech, Pope Benedict railed against anyone who would dare “manipulate nature” in a way that, in his eyes, leaves the very humanity of transgender people in dispute.
What has Pope Francis does on social issues that could be considered progressive? Aside from saying, “who am I to judge?” and saying that the church should stop talking about their oppressive views, he’s done absolutely nothing. He hasn’t advocated for changing these policies, he’s simply chosen to hide those policies under the rug, all while the church continues to fund anti-LGBT initiatives worldwide.
When I saw that the Human Rights Campaign, an LGB-rights organization increasingly out of touch with anyone but their white, middle-to-upper-class, cisgender base, praised Francis’ decision to do nothing in terms of reform, I couldn’t help but hang my head in shame as I read their joyous exclamation that the Pope has just “hit the reset button on LGBT issues!” He hasn’t, nor will he ever.
Want to actually hit that reset button, Francis? Start by condemning the words of your predecessor who told millions of people that transgender individuals are less than human.