Will the Pope’s new tone regarding homosexuality ripple into The Cornerstone Forum?

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

During a return flight to Rome following his visit to Brazil, Pope Francis seemed to set a new tone regarding homosexuality in the priesthood when he answered a journalist’s question about it thus: “If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and good will, who am I to judge that person?” He added that gays should never be marginalized: “The problem is not that one has this tendency (to homosexuality); no, we must be brothers. This is the first matter.”

David Badash of The New Civil Rights Movement described these words as “a shot—of tolerance and love—heard around the world.” The Rev. James Martin, a U.S. Jesuit and popular author, called the moment a “sea change.”

While it may be premature to infer from the Pope’s remarks that any substantive changes in the Church’s position on homosexuality are imminent, it’s safe to say that Francis’s disposition toward gay priests is more relaxed than that of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who said that men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” should not be ordained. Francis’s use of the word “gay” is a striking departure from his predecessors’ choice of the more impersonal term “homosexual.”

What interests me and many other Catholic-watchers, however, is the “penumbra effect” of these statements. “Tone” is the word being tossed around in the media. Francis is setting a different “tone” about homosexuality—one that is more inclusive than his predecessor’s.

We will  be watching Gil Bailie’s The Cornerstone Forum in the weeks and months ahead for any signs of a reaction to the Pope’s words. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has already denied that the pope’s message is anything new. (Like, “Oh, we’ve been saying this all along!”) This is setting us up for the historical revisionist tack that will play itself out over the next few centuries, i.e., “The Church never persecuted or ostracized homosexuals,” and even, “The Church was in the forefront of efforts to end discrimination against LGBTs.” We’ve seen it before, with slavery and anti-Semitism. The Church is already lining up its revisionist historians to flatly deny that the Church had any role in scapegoating homosexuals.

Will Gil Bailie follow Cardinal Dolan’s lead? Is anyone willing to venture a guess?

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1 comment so far

  1. The Cornerstone Forum Samizdat on

    […] is a follow-up to my recent post, “Will the Pope’s new tone regarding homosexuality ripple into The Cornerstone Forum?&#82… (7/30/13), where I invited speculations about Mr. Bailie’s reading of Pope Francis’s […]


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