The Catholic church at large has a very rocky relationship when it comes to LGBTQAI+ issues; most everyone is familiar with some variety of priest joke, and most of those same people are familiar with the Catholic stance against marriage equality and non-heteronormative behavior, in general. All in all, not a very friendly case file. However, because of a delightfully candid instance on the papal aircraft, Pope Francis might be bringing about some change to that.
The pope, while flying back from a successful, week-long visit to Brazil on Sunday night, remarked to journalists aboard the plane, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" when questioned in regard to gay priests. The topic is a sensitive one, as it has caused much division within the Catholic church in recent years. The pope went on to say, "We shouldn't marginalize people for this. They must be integrated into society."
Though this surprising act of good will is a much-welcome change in comparison to the 2005 document signed by then-Pope Benedict XVI denying gay men the chance to become priests, there is little evidence that it will have any profound effect on church policy regarding LGBTQAI+ individuals. The pope did reaffirm that homosexual acts are still a sin, as according to Catholic law. He was, however, clear about "integrating" gay men into the priestly brotherhood, rather than "marginalizing" them. Pope Francis was quoted as saying, "The problem is not having this orientation. We must be brothers."
Media reactions, especially those on Twitter, regarding the breaking news have been overwhelmingly positive.
This is big. If there was a brand of vodka bottled at the Vatican, damn, I'd buy it & whip up a batch of Moscow Mules http://t.co/kjpTnFV4Y6
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) July 29, 2013
— Troian (@SleepintheGardn) July 29, 2013
Though the step is small, somewhat vague, and will ultimately not change much, it is still appreciated by many. This writer's sentiments are simply this; It's about damn time.