With over one billion members of the Catholic Church, worldwide, there is a great responsibility on the shoulders of its leader to guide in such a way that greatly resonates with multitudes. In a society where the subject of gay marriage is far past its previous taboo status, acknowledgement of such an issue begs a certain delicacy. Upon the one-year anniversary of Pope Francis’ election to office, he brings forth hints of tolerance and equality for the planet’s gay contingency. Although, still seemingly against gay marriage, the idea of civil unions between same-sex couples does not appear to be completely off the table. In fact, this past week’s utterances may reflect the first time a Pope has verbally committed to a lenient stance on such an issue, stating, “…marriage is between a man and a woman, however, we have to look at different cases and evaluate them in their variety.”
Perhaps, this may come from a concern over the overall welfare of those living in a lower socio-economic bracket. With the allowance of civil unions, comes more possibility of health care and economic security, especially in the current world where the cost of living may be at an all-time high. It’s seems, also, a reference to the concept of separation between church and state. While holding firm onto traditional Catholic beliefs, a Vatican consultant affirmed the Pope’s interest in the “…obligation of the state to fulfill its responsibilities towards its citizens.” The Pope has allegedly supported the idea of unions between same-sex couples since 2010, during his tenure in Argentina.
Not only is the Pope weighing in on modern day change and outlook, but Catholic Church officials in the US are also perpetuating the echo of current societal ideals. New York’s own Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who has also been granted the illustrious position of Cardinal, had a few things to add to Pope Francis’ notions on Sunday’s Meet The Press (video below). While the Catholic Church has somewhat softened on its stance towards homosexuality, there is still some “trepidation” he feels that intolerance could ultimately swing in such an opposite direction that the Church itself could be “frozen out”.
Still, Dolan went on to pontificate on the Church’s over all concern over “excesses on the right” and “excesses on the left”. This is a theme that continues to crop up lately regarding a view there is a middle ground to stand on. For example, on openly gay football player Michael Sam, Dolan stated: “bravo… good for him… God bless ya…” While he affirms the Bible’s theme of non-judging he, like Pope Francis, has not relented on the idea of marriage sanctity between a man and a woman. Dolan has been well received in New York, particularly due to his perceived accessibility, graciousness and fairly liberal tone. Here is a man of the cloth who has even made references to his penchant for festivity and affection for beer.
After a year in office, it seems the world has gained a true liking for Pope Francis and his views. His tone trickles down through other Church officials and followers. With his ideas on tolerance for all, including gay priests, his acts of kindness – such as personally washing prisoners’ feet, and his overall concern for the welfare of the poor and downtrodden, his popularity has soared. His presence on social media has been huge, which includes glorifying posts and pictures taken with fans and followers. Pope Francis seems to have found a key to success, and it may just be that he truly echoes the modern ideals on equality for all mankind, greatly expressed in today’s society.
By Josh Taub