On March 15, 2021, Pope Francis of the Catholic Church announced that the Church cannot and will not bless same-sex unions since they cannot “bless sin”. This statement of the “progressive” Pope made it to various leading news outlets garnering different reactions and responses.
So what if the Church won’t bless gay unions? No big deal, actually.
I may be naïve, but in my few years of involvement in LGBTQ advocacies, I haven’t encountered a group nor an individual who advocates for the same-sex union under the Catholic Church since it would be stupid to do so. Why would you expect an institution to recognize your marriage when in the first place, it invalidates your very existence and sees you as an abomination?
The Progressive Pope
Pope Francis should be given enough credit for his strong and “radical” stance on LGBTQ acceptance. In 2013, he was named the Person of the Year by the LGBTQ magazine Advocate for another newsworthy statement in July 2013, wherein he said:
“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?”
The Catholic LGBTQ community welcomed this pronouncement of the Pope himself. Even I myself was happy to hear the Pope fulfilling the promise of the Catholic Church to nurture the last, the least, and the lost of our society.
Aside from LGBTQ-related statements, I also personally admire Pope Francis for his radical encyclical letter on climate change and environmental protection “Laudato Si or Care on Common Home”. In this letter by the Pope, he showed that the Church and science could go hand in hand in criticizing an anthropocentric and technocratic paradigm that destroys and pollute the environment, attacks biodiversity and excludes the poor and indigenous from living a dignified human life.
Pope Francis is so progressive that he is even called a “third-worldist and communist” by both members of the clergy and the lay faithful.
Hypothetically, let’s assume that Pope Francis wants the Church to recognize and officiate same-sex union. Can he? Maybe. But what we know is he will be faced by a massive chunk of Catholic conservatives who will try their best to lobby against it.
Like other major religious denominations, the Catholic Church is built in hundreds, if not thousands of years of homophobia. It is deeply rooted in their ecumenical dogma of their moral theology and social teachings.
What I always say to idealist and aggressive LGBTQ activist friends who want to destroy the Catholic Church’s social teaching, is that they cannot easily change a tradition that is extremely institutionalized and deeply etched into Church teachings.
While there are certain sects that officiate gay marriages in the Philippines, the government does not recognize it. LGBTQ groups around the world aim for a state that a.) respects their identity and b.) recognizes their love and marriage.
The recognition of the state of the union of two persons of the same sex goes beyond the abstract concept of love and affection. It is a fulfillment of basic human right and the fundamental freedom to marry and build a family.
Moreover, it will allow gay couples to enjoy the privileges that heterosexual couples enjoy, such as laws concerning property, affinity, and family. It will allow them to live a life of dignity with the promise of a secure and enjoyable future.
In the Philippines, the struggle of LGBTQ+ advocates is really far from the finish line. The country has yet to pass a bill that prohibits discrimination, a bill that recognizes the diversity of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression, and of course, a law that recognizes gay unions (not for lack of trying).
To conclude, first, let me say that I respect and I validate the sentiments of some Catholic members of the LGBTQ community. Secondly, let me emphasize that gay unions don’t need “church blessings” but “state-recognition.” Third, the LGBTQ+ community deserves better as active contributors in our ever-evolving and ever-developing society.
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