Queer Catholics React to Pope Francis

pope-francis_470Social media sites were immediately abuzz yesterday, as the world watched Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio — now Pope Francis — speak the first words of his papacy from the red velvet curtained balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square and the rest of the world. Here are a few reactions I received from
LGBTQ Catholics:

“There are a few issues that I’m not thrilled to hear Pope Francis’ stance on, but overall, I feel good about him. He’s humble and lives a life of simplicity. If he allows the Holy Spirit to guide his actions, I’m hopeful he can lead the Church in a positive direction.” —A.H., Chicago

“My hope as a gay Catholic is that someday my people will be treated as equally as Latin American Catholics or any other type of Catholics.” —M.B.M, Ventura, CA

“Some LGBTQ Catholics might have hoped for a pope who would have walked out in a pink gown while “We Are Family” was playing in the background! As someone who worked in the Roman Catholic Church for 20 years, I can assure you that will not ever happen. But I also know that sometimes God’s Spirit is full of surprises and I am hopeful that this might be one of them. While I don’t think you will see woman priests or gay marriages in the Roman Catholic Church in our lifetime, I do think we might see a greater willingness to have conversation about some of these important issues.” —Geoff Duffy

Epiphany Ecumenical Catholic Community

“I’ll admit it, I was born and raised a cradle Catholic. You can usually spot us, we appear around the holidays — mainly Christmas and Easter—when it really counts (or so we think it does). We know the prayers and rituals because they have been beaten into our heads it’s almost like brushing our teeth. For a long time church to me felt obligatory; the “guilt” of not getting out of bed on Sundays and missing Mass meant that I was “that girl” when I went to school on Monday morning.

In recent years my faith in the Catholic church dwindled and I stopped caring if I became “that girl” when I graduated and went to a public high school where it didn’t matter if I were Catholic or not. I wasn’t looked at any differently. I knew God was there and I prayed to the various saints when I needed some extra guidance or couldn’t find something — just like when I was little.

Then, I graduated and went to college, in college I came out. I, like most queer youth, always knew; but I didn’t safe enough in high school to come out. When I did finally wave my own rainbow flag I knew that eventually it would get back to the people that were still up where I grew up. (That was the birthplace of Facebook…joy!) But, what I wasn’t prepared for was a letter that I received from my old pastor from the parish that I grew up in —the same pastor that guided me through receiving every sacrament that a child could receive. In that letter I was told that I was never allowed back into that church again; that I should know better and that I was a walking abomination and a disgrace to our parish’s name. I lost it. I cried for days and didn’t tell anyone. Not even my girlfriend at the time. I didn’t understand how he could judge me, when it’s no one’s right to judge except God.

I’ve recently taken a job at a private Catholic school, and as ironic as it sounds, I teach Theology among other things that I’m certified to teach in. In my school, none of my kids are Catholic, but they choose this school for the faith based education and safety of a small campus. When I’m teaching them the Catholic doctrine, they don’t understand our rules, or how God could punish or judge people for who they are. In their faith, their denomination, love conquers all.

As sad as I was to see anyone retire, sometimes you just can’t handle the job that you’ve been given; that’s clear in the stepping down of the past pope. I truly do wish him well and a happy life; but the image that he’s left and the bitter taste in the mouth of over 12 million Catholics is hard to swallow. He’s taken us back to the time where woman were just used as baby-makers and property to be controlled by men. I’m happy he’s gone but I’m afraid that new Pope, Pope Francis is just the old/same man with a new costume on. The Catholic Church had a golden opportunity to show progress and evolution to truly walk in Christ’s path. They didn’t and that frightens me even more. Some of the words that Pope Francis has said about who I am, send me right back to reading that letter as a young queer.

The one positive are my students. These students have reignited the fire of faith in this burnt out Catholic queer woman. They may not know how much they have; but in time they will. I still call myself a Catholic and I’m a Christian through and through, but it’s not because of a man who doesn’t speak English who sits in Rome…it’s the 25 kids that sit in my Theology class 6th period that remind me that I am loved, regardless.”— Lisa Ramos, Chicago

“A Jesuit Pope, with the humble spirit of St. Francis, gives me hope for reform and repentance within the church. While his stance on Gay Marriage and Adoption is not great, if he is truly open to the working of the Holy Spirit, the hope for true dialogue lives within me.

St. Francis is viewed as a reformer of the church, answering God’s call to “repair my church in ruins.” This pope has not an easy task ahead of him. With all the abuse, sin and corruption in the church we need a humble reformer one who will love with the heart of Christ and will hear the cry of the poor, yet we also need one with the wisdom to let go of antiquated traditions that prevent the Whole Body of Christ from ministering in Jesus’ Name. Dear God, please be with Pope Francis, open his eyes and ears to the dignity of every human person, male/female, poor/rich, young/old, gay/straight…May he see the power of the Holy Spirit in the people and may he listen to Your voice in the people.”-Theresa Lukasik, MA Spirituality, Loyola University

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About Val

Valency was born in San Francisco to hippie parents, but is a Chicago girl through and through. Ten years of Catholic school helped her develop a finely-tuned bullshit detector, as well as a love of all sorts of Catholic kitsch. Valency isn't fond of labels. She is, however, fond of embracing her many paradoxes, and walking the fine lines between religion and politics, with an eye turned toward postmodern religion, feminist theology, and challenging patriarchy from inside religious institutions. She lives on the northside with her two daughters and two female cats, and is always looking for more ways increase the estrogen in her household.


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