The pope compared to Beyonce′?
Yep, that’s right. Jezebel.com, a website and blog for women, declared Pope Francis “the coolest Pope ever” and compared him to Beyonce′, the superstar pop singer, who sang at President Obama’s second inauguration ceremony. Erin Gloria Ryan wrote:
“Twitter is exploding with Papal adoration today. It’s bizarre.
“Francis is basically the Beyoncé of organized religion.”
Pope Francis’ interview in America magazine has triggered a deluge of positive responses from Catholics, Catholic organizations, and LGBT leaders. New Ways Ministry’s response was posted on this blog yesterday. Here’s a sampling of some responses from others.
Sister Jeannine Gramick
Sister Jeannine Gramick, New Ways Ministry’s co-founder, appeared yesterday on MSNBC talking about the pope. You can view her interview here. In the segment she is asked for her reaction to the pope’s remarks. In part, she stated:
“Actually I cried when I first began to read it because in the beginning he is asked who are you…He was stunned by the question, but after a moment of reflection, he said, to describe himself, ‘I am a sinner.’ His humility is just overwhelming. He realizes no person is perfect, and yet, as is so clear in his message, God loves each and every one of us. . . .
“He wants to make it clear these [abortion, marriage equality, contraception] are not essential. He’s trying to get us back to the Gospel, to the real essential message of Jesus. The essential message is that Jesus came to proclaim God’s love, God’s love for each and every person, no matter if we agree with them or not.”
Equally Blessed (coalition of four Catholic organizations–Call To Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, New Ways Ministry which work for justice and equality for LGBT people in church and society):
“The pope’s statements are like rain on a parched land for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics and their supporters. We yearn for the day when the Catholic hierarchy can simply acknowledge the holiness of our lives and our relationships, as the majority of Catholics in the United States already do, and we pray that this pope will move us closer to that goal. In the meantime, Pope Francis has sent a clear signal that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and organizations like the Knights of Columbus need to end their multimillion dollar campaign to marginalize LGBT people in the church and the wider society and commit themselves to gaining a deeper understanding of the lives, beliefs and ministries of LGBT people, their families and their friends.”
Father James Martin SJ
Fr. James Martin, SJ (noted spirituality author and associate editor at America magazine), from the blog “In All Things” :
“During his in-flight media conference from World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro this summer, Pope Francis made headlines when he uttered his now-famous words, ‘Who am I to judge?’ when asked a question about gay priests in the church.
“At the time, several commentators opined that the pope’s words were not only uninteresting (since the pope did not change any church teaching on homosexuality), they were also limited, applying only, they said, to gay priests. But in our interview, Francis speaks at some length about gay persons in general, and even notes that his comments during the in-flight conference referred to gay persons, not simply gay priests: “During the return flight I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge.’
“The new interview continues his open and pastoral stance towards gays and lesbians. Notice, too, the gentle tone of the rest of his response to the question posed by the interviewer: ‘Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanied persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy.’ While none of this changes church teaching, the Pope’s words have changed the way that church speaks to and about gay persons. And that is new.
“There is a reason why many gay Catholics have told me that they feel more welcome in the church these days. There is a reason why people like Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the archbishop of Mumbai, recently told his priests to be more ‘sensitive‘ when speaking to gays and lesbians.
“Pope Francis leads with mercy. Mercy has been from hallmark of his papacy from its earliest days. The America interview shows a gentle pastor who looks upon people as individuals, not categories.
Fr. Martin’s blog post is an excellent read, analyzing a variety of the pope’s statements in the very extensive interview he gave.
Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director, DignityUSA (national organization of LGBT Catholics):
“We find much to be hopeful about, particularly in the Pope’s firm desire that the Church be a ’home for all people,’ and his belief that God looks on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people with love rather than condemnation.
“LGBT Catholics and allies will rejoice in the Pope’s call for Church leaders to focus on being pastors rather than rule enforcers. We hope that the bishops will heed this call and immediately end their anti-LGBT campaigns, the firings of church workers for who they are, the attacks on people who challenge or question official teachings, and the exclusive and judgmental rhetoric that comes too often from our pulpits. The Pope is unambiguous. Leave the bully pulpit, and accompany your people. . . .
“This could be a moment of deep renewal for our Church, and for its LGBT members. We hope, pray, and work to ensure this is so.”
Michael O’Loughlin (blogger at Religion News Service), from “Faith Fix”:
“As a Catholic, who happens to work in the church, and who writes extensively about the church, and who is also gay, I am fairly desensitized to the veiled bigotry employed by so many Catholic leaders. Sure, the cardinals and bishops who seem obsessed with issues of homosexuality usually begin their statements recalling the Catechism of the Catholic Church that reminds us all people are to be treated with dignity. But in the next breath, their words turn to sin, disorder, unnaturalness, and general judgment and condemnation. Under Pope Benedict XVI, combined with rapid advancements for LGBT people in the West, the church’s attitude and language toward gay people reached a nadir. . . .
“Pope Francis is so revolutionary, so engrossing, because he is living out Gospel values of love, mercy, and compassion. These values are often antithetical to those of the world, so it moves us when people in power embody them.
“People sometimes ask how I can remain in the church when it’s so hostile to gay people. I explain that the church is simply an instrument I use to understand and attempt to live out the Gospel. Pope Francis recognizes this. The Gospel is so much bigger than we often give it credit for, which is why Francis rejects those who would reduce it to a few hot-button social issue. . . .
“And the pope is simply reminding us that we all are in need of God’s forgiveness, and how much better it is for us to accompany one another on this journey with love. And mercy. If the pope has the humility to ask, ‘Who am I to judge?’, can’t we?”
Jim FitzGerald, Executive Director, Call To Action (Catholic justice organization):
“. . . We are heartened by Francis’s openness and candor, willingness to dialogue with all, and his attempts at transparency and consultation. We’ve long held more inclusive, open conversations to be healthy for our Church. . . .
“We were encouraged to hear Pope Francis speak of continued discernment and reform. As this spirit of change begins to reach up towards all levels of our Church, we look forward to working with all those who seek to embody a more accountable, inclusive, and just Church. While there is more work to do, we remain hopeful transformation is afoot.”
Chad Griffin, Director, Human Rights Campaign (LGBT political action organization):
“With these latest comments, Pope Francis has pressed the reset button on the Roman Catholic Church’s treatment of LGBT people, rolling back a years-long campaign at the highest levels of the Church to oppose any measure of dignity or equality. Now, it’s time for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to catch up and drop their opposition to even the most basic protections for LGBT people. Otherwise, they risk being left far behind by American Catholics and this remarkable Pope.”
Jon O’Brien, President, Catholics for Choice:
“We welcome what Pope Francis said today when he called for the Catholic church to be ‘home for all’ and not a ‘small chapel’ focused on doctrine and limited views on moral teachings. . . .
“We truly hope that this is just the start; that Pope Francis doesn’t only talk the talk, but also walks the walk. We hope he takes steps to ensure that his more open view of how the church should deal with people trickles down to his brother bishops around the world. . .”
We will keep you posted on further reactions as they become available to us.
–Francis DeBernardo and Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry