An Informal Reformation

By: Rohan Lewis

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Pope Francis changed many stances on gender variant life, saying that “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” This declaration came on the heels of several countries of Catholic majorities voting for marriage equality: Colima , a state in Mexico, has recently allow for civil unions alongside the southern state Coahuila, while Mexico City and Quintana Roo allow for equal marriage rights (although either allowance has yet to be federally recognized;) Uruguay , in April, had approved a similar bill, having previously allowing for trans* individuals to have their identification cards corrected to fit their appropriate gender. Even in the United Kingdom, a country of great Christian variety, including Methodism, Presbyterianism, Catholicism Protestantism and of course Church of England, the Church of Wales and the Church of Scotland, secured gender variant marital rights for both England and Wales. Of course one cannot forget France, with its huge Roman Catholic majority; Parliament’s approval of gender variant marriages had sparked a huge wave of protest; previously, French gender variant couples were allotted civil unions, but not adoption rights. Even in the Republic of  Ireland , where the Catholic Church has had a great reign for centuries, a referendum is set for 2014 to determine the marital rights of gender variant couples.

While it is indeed wonderful that the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church, a powerful figure in the religious domain, this must be taken with a slight grain of salt. When Pope Francis was still Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Argentina, a country also with a large Catholic population, had deeply criticized the country when it gave gender variant couples marriage equality, arguing that adoptions made by same-sex couples discriminate against the rights of the child, under the argument that it is the child’s choice to be adopted by parents of same-sex or not.

While this hypocrisy is to be noted, it cannot be denied that people have the right to change. Pope Francis’ changed opinion reflects several things to his character. With his revolutionary nature, from asking people to bless him on his trip to Brazil and washing the feet of Muslim women  prisoners on Holy Thursday, the day before religious-historical death of the Christian Savior Jesus Christ on Good Friday, which also commemorates His Last Supper, the Pope is inarguably nowadays progressive. Such novel movements might suggest that Pope Francis, when he was merely an Archbishop, was unable to express his true opinion, that he could not include women on such a sacred day, that he could not humble himself by petitioning others for their prayers, because the human authorities above him would not allow it.

As a Nordic Neo-Pagan, whose faith is in the pre-Christian pantheons, particularly the Viking, Celtic, Greek and Egyptian, and a polytheist who values all religions to some extent, I have great respect for the Jesuit man who finally came out as progressive when elected to papal throne. Not only is he revolutionary, but also practical. When the Church first ignored the shifting ways of the people, it fractured. People, such as Martin Luther, who disagreed with its values, diverged from it, and the organization lost numbers. So, just like that one day when a man nailed a piece of paper to a door, Pope Francis has reformed the Catholic Church’s methods of exclusion. This may be grounded on the argument that a religion cannot exist without its followers. It would thus become a mythology, a word I find offensive because it reflects that a religion can no longer be considered valid because of society’s disregard for it (which does not mean that it is without value.) Pope Francis, aware of the changing times, has directed the Church in for the sake of survival, rather than repeat history.

The Catholic Church has been undergoing a new and informal reformation, this time concerning the right to love. Nations of significant Catholic populations, like France, have dissented from such values, regarding the rights of their diverse peoples rather than be influenced by an exterior nation that is built on only one faith. Pope Francis, while once having to reflect the values of archaic men, has made great steps towards preserving the Catholic Church.

I am a person whose sexuality is deeply intertwined with spirituality. I have been critical of the Church for many things, such as their stance of sex. However, it is unfair for people to constantly criticize and assume negative things about Christianity as a whole, rather than acknowledge the fact that such as religion has been besmirched by its leaders for centuries now. It is not divinity that we should blame, but the people who claim to represent it. The Pope’s actions finally adhere to the stories about a man who performed miracles for pagans, who showed love to the poor of spirit and the sick, who fed the masses with only five loaves of bread and two fish, and turned no away, regardless of their identity. People cannot frown down upon such a person and claim to be decent. Of course, I have friends who disagree with the idea of same sex marriage, yet it is not my place to judge them, just how it is not the Pope’s place to judge me as we both strive for love and happiness in our own ways.

Now, if only he could explicitly take a more egalitarian stance with women….

 

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