Despite recent clamoring that Pope Francis might be making the Catholic Church more inclusive of gay people, he made very clear this week that isn’t the case.
According to local media, Francis warned a group of Italian bishops on Monday that they should very carefully vet applicants to the priesthood to make sure they weed out anybody who might be gay. “Keep an eye on the admissions to seminaries, keep your eyes open,” he reportedly said at the closed-door meeting. “If in doubt, better not let them enter.”
It’s perhaps the quickest pendulum swing back in Francis’ ongoing tease that he might be more accepting of gay people than past pontiffs. A day earlier, Juan Carlos Cruz, a gay Chilean man who was also a survivor of sexual abuse from a Catholic priest, said the pope told him his sexual orientation doesn’t matter. “Juan Carlos, that you are gay doesn’t matter,” Cruz recounted him saying. “God made you like this and loves you like this and it doesn’t matter to me. The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are.”
For many, this echoed Francis’ infamous 2013 response, “Who am I to judge?” when he was asked about allowing gay men to become priests. Spoken shortly after becoming pope, the comment gave many hope that he would take the Church in a new direction.
In 2016, Francis also issued a sweeping apology for the wrongs the Church has perpetrated against the LGBTQ community, but the apology rang hollow for many Catholics concerned that his actions did not measure up to his rhetoric. And while his positive comments have received more attention, he has made his share of negative comments as well, such as calling the rise of transgender rights “ideological colonization.” In late 2016, the Vatican issued a new document declaring that men who either have “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” or who “support the so-called ‘gay culture’” cannot be priests.
Fancis’ latest comments suggest that — contrary to his 2013 remark — he’s remaining on the side of discrimination.
Amanda Kerri, a contributor to The Advocate, argued this week in the wake of Francis’ supposed comments to Cruz that people should just have patience regarding the pace at which the Church is changing on these issues. It’s not clear, however, that it’s changing at any pace whatsoever.