LGBT Catholics cautiously encouraged by pope’s tolerance

In comments made during an impromptu interview aboard the papal plane on Monday, Pope Francis inspired hope among myriad LGBT Catholics that there might be a place for them in the Church.

Several organizations representing both LGBT people and Catholics around the world jumped at the chance to welcome the pope’s statements, saying they indicated a more tolerant and accepting tone for the leader of the Catholic Church, which considers homosexuality a sin, and requires gay Catholics to remain celibate.

“Pope Francis today uttered some of the most encouraging words a pontiff has ever spoken about gay and lesbian people,” read a statement from LGBT Catholic organization Equally Blessed. “In doing so, he has set a great example for Catholics everywhere. The pope has rejected the harsh language of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, for a compassionate approach and a pastoral tone. Lesbians and gays are no longer a ‘threat to civilization,’ rather they are people of faith and good will.

“Catholic leaders who continue to belittle gays and lesbians can no longer claim that their inflammatory remarks represent the sentiments of the pope,” the statement continues. “Bishops who oppose the expansion of basic civil rights — such as an end to discrimination in the work place — can no longer claim that the pope approves of their discriminatory agenda. Pope Francis did not articulate a change in the church’s teaching today, but he spoke compassionately, and in doing so, he has encouraged an already lively conversation that may one day make it possible for the church to fully embrace gay and lesbian Catholics.”

The Advocate, July 29, 2013

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