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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

480 Watch Jacqueline's video about Alice's Birthday and a reflection on hope: "Who am I to judge"

Day 480 Friday, July 9th, 2021

Watch Jacqueline's video about Alice's Birthday and a reflection on hope: "Who am I to judge" - Francis

Link to Jacqueline's tribute video celebrating Alice (from her birthday party) Great work Jacqueline!

Daily Reflection: Who am I to Judge

The attitude towards gays and lesbians has taken a 180 degree turn since the election of Pope Francis in 2013.With just a few words -- "Who am I to judge?" -- the first pope to be born in the New World added another verse to "Born This Way", the 2011 hit single by Lady Gaga!

(Cardinal Dolan: Catholic Church Doesn't Hate Gays, Just Gay Marriage)

And since Francis made that now-famous remark, doctrinal hardliners within the Church and other social conservatives (and bigots) have raged against his warm embrace of "intrinsically disordered" persons, as the Vatican describes those of us who are not heterosexuals.

The Argentine pope angered his critics again last week when it was revealed that he had written James Martin to affirm the American Jesuit in his much-criticized ministry to the LGBTQ+ community. How fabulous! Francis is not exactly a gay rights activist. Not by a long shot. He's an 84-year-old priest from Latin America. You won't find men of his generation in that part of the world swelling the ranks of "Queer Nation" or leading chants of "Out of the closets and into the streets!"

And that's exactly why his non-judgmental attitude towards gays and lesbians is all the more significant. After the scolding and moralizing tone of his two most recent predecessors, this pope has substantially boosted the Catholic Church's image among the LGBTQ+ community -- though no one would go so far as to say it's anywhere near fabulous. John Paul II and Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) literally beat up on gay men, while promoting self-loathing, closeted and homophobic homosexuals up the greasy poll of the hierarchy.

It will take a long time to undo the harm these two men have done to gays by their gestures and the poison that flowed from their pens.

Benedict described homosexuals as being "intrinsically disordered" and calls "the inclination of the homosexual person" a "more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil". The letter states that the inclination is, itself, "an objective disorder".

Ratzinger wrote the script, but John Paul II took it on stage. The Polish pope's most famous rant against gays and lesbians came during the Great Jubilee of 2000. In July of that year Rome was host to World Pride, the global version of the annual Gay Pride celebrations. There was an entire week of events, culminating with a huge parade on the very hot Saturday afternoon of July 8th. Somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000 people joined in the slow, peaceful trek on a route that the city, under the Catholic hierarchy's pressure, mapped out away from Rome's most important monuments. The vast majority of those who came out were dressed in Bermuda shorts and polo shirts. Some estimate that half of the people in the parade that day were heterosexuals who were there to demonstrate their solidarity with the gay and lesbian community.

But John Paul and the organizers of the Jubilee were furious. Right from the beginning they had tried mightily, but unsuccessfully, to stop the city of Rome from hosting World Pride. John Paul demanded the parade route not be allowed to pass by any churches, saying this would be a sacrilege! They had no such objections when the Italian government, just one month before, revived a long discarded "tradition" of rolling out tanks and military hardware for the June 2 celebration of Republic Day.

During the Sunday Angelus the day after the World Pride Parade, an angry John Paul stood at his study window overlooking St. Peter's Square and took aim at what he called, "the well-known demonstrations held in Rome in the past few days". "In the name of the Church of Rome I can only express bitterness (amarezza) at the affront to the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and the offence to the Christian values of a city that is so dear to the hearts of Catholics throughout the world," he said. The Vatican translated amarezza as "deep sadness". But the look on the late pope's face and the tone of his voice indicated that he was more angry than sad.

Yes, Papa Wojtyla was bitter all right."The Church cannot be silent about the truth, because she would fail in her fidelity to God the Creator and would not help to distinguish good from evil."

The European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christian Groups gave Benedict an opportunity to address the issue anew in June 2011 when Rome played host to EuroPride. The group crafted a letter to him a month earlier in which it asked him to denounce laws criminalizing homosexuality, to reprimand Catholics who promote "reparative therapy", to stop opposing same-sex relationships and to fully rethink the Church's teaching on homosexuality. The pope obviously ignored this, too. The American expelled from the Jesuits for supporting LGBTQ+ Catholics.

The letter was posted in the mailbox by John McNeill, the American priest who wrote the seminal book, The Church and the Homosexual. McNeill, a Jesuit scholar with an impressive academic pedigree, published that book in 1976.But during a television interview he admitted he was gay. And a year later the Vatican ordered him not to write or speak further on the issue of homosexuality.

He obeyed the gag order for an entire decade, but then broke his silence. By doing so, he paid a high price. The Jesuits, under instructions from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in 1987, expelled him from their order. John McNeill was at EuroPride 2011 for the premiere of "Taking a Chance on God", a documentary on his life and work.

No pope, no cardinals, no bishops had his back or encouraged his ministry. It was a very different Vatican in very different times. But the courageous McNeill, in a wheelchair, was at the head of the large EuroPride Parade.

And in contrast to World Pride 2000, we were allowed to pass the Colosseum and other famous sites, ending up in that large field known as Circus Maximus for a huge concert. It featured Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, the pop star and gay icon known as Lady Gaga.

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