Everybody loves Pope Francis. It’s hard not to like the guy, what with him letting dogs into heaven, buying sleeping bags for homeless Romans, pissing off white supremacists, speaking in support of environmentalism and evolution, and even dropping the occasional f-bomb during a Sunday blessing. As far as popes go, he’s pretty cool — so cool, in fact, that media outlets have started referring to him as Cool Pope. Sure, he’s still a little old-fashioned — he is, after all, the head of a 2000 year-old patriarchal religion — but he’s way cooler than the last pope. We love you, Cool Pope!
Unfortunately, Cool Pope does not love the LGBT community back. His latest slap in the face came this Tuesday, when Cool Pope declared trans people are an “annihilation of man”, and made a vague reference to the indoctrination of children via textbooks “supplied by influential donors and countries,” to use the words of the New York Times. Cool Pope neglected to identify any of the particular textbooks he objected to — or any of the donors or countries, but… you know.
Of course — this isn’t shocking. In September 2015, Cool Pope’s Vatican ruled that a transman can’t be a child’s godfather. The Vatican’s ruling stated that “transsexual behavior itself reveals, in a public manner, an attitude opposite to the moral imperative of solving the problem of sexual identity according to the truth of one’s own sexuality.”
Unfortunately, there’s more.
Remember when France sent a gay ambassador to the Vatican? That was pretty great. Well, Cool Pope met with the ambassador personally to reject him for being gay. Way harsh, Cool Pope.
In Slovakia during February 2015, Pope Francis supported a referendum denying same-sex couples the right to marry and adopt children. That’s not just bad for gays: it’s bad for all those orphaned children who could miss out on a chance at a new family because of regressive social mores. Not cool, Cool Pope! Fortunately, Slovakia ignored Cool Pope’s decidedly uncool endorsement. The referendum failed. It’s time to start referring to Slovakia as Cool Slovakia.
In November 2014, Cool Pope opened an anti-gay marriage conference that invited representatives of many different faiths to meet up and talk about how much they didn’t want to let same-sex couples get married. He even invited members of an anti-gay organization that has been declared a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. What the hell, Pope Francis? That is literally the opposite of cool. We’re going to start calling you Weaksauce Pope if you keep doing this.
The Catholic Church’s attitudes regarding LGBT people haven’t made any progress under Pope Francis. The Vatican still believes that homosexuality is wrong and that marriage can only be heterosexual.
So why does everybody seem to think Pope Francis is so LGBT-friendly?
The reason, Pink News says, is that the Guardian ran a story claiming that Pope Francis praised a gay children’s book. That story turned out to be false. And yet Pope Francis’s cool guy image persists. Why? According to Pink News:
This is how the Pope’s gay-friendly image grows: because people will it to be so. The liberal media wish there were a gay-friendly Pope, and the Catholic media wish there were less gay rights pressure on the Pope, and the misinformation meets somewhere in the middle.
His infamous ‘Who Am I To Judge?’ comments are as prevalent as ever – but context-free snippets omit his endorsement in the same sentence of the existing Church Catechism, which says gay people are “disordered”.
As much as we want to like him, Pope Francis’s apparent tolerance for LGBT people is nothing but lip service. In practice, the Vatican still supports anti-LGBT policies and beliefs. Pope Francis may be a breath of fresh air in some ways, but as far as queer folks are concerned, he’s an old friend in a new mitre.
(article originally published on September 10, 2015)