With a ‘pragmatist’ pope, LGBT hope?

A recent front-page New York Times article called Pope Francis a “pragmatist” on LGBT issues, detailing his support of civil … Continued

A recent front-page New York Times article called Pope Francis a “pragmatist” on LGBT issues, detailing his support of civil unions while cardinal in Argentina.

Along with many Catholics, I hope our new pope brings that pragmatic streak to Rome as the worldwide leader of the Catholic Church.

Michael O’Loughlin of the Religion News Service writes about some good steps Francis could take in the first days of his papacy. Most notably, O’Loughlin suggests that Francis publicly condemn legislation that puts the lives of gays and lesbians at risk, like those being considered in Uganda and Russia.

My suggestion isn’t as bold or innovative. It is simply a first step: neither an attempt to break any new ground theologically nor a plea for church authorities to change its political stances.

On homosexuality, we simply, and urgently, need a pastoral shift from our new universal shepherd.

For over 25 years, through speeches, letters and memorandums the Vatican has made it abundantly clear where it stands on homosexuality and issues surrounding it, most notably same-sex marriage. The faithful know the teachings well.

Sadly, throughout these years, I have yet to see anything come from Rome in regards to this issue that has done enough justice to some of the most fundamental truths of the Christian faith, namely, that God created and redeemed humankind out of love and that this love overflows for every human, regardless of sexual orientation.

The American bishops, noticing this phenomenon, published a pastoral letter in 1997, titled “Always Our Children.

In it, they write: “God does not love someone any less simply because he or she is homosexual. God’s love is always and everywhere offered to those who are open to receiving it”

It also encourages pastors in the church to “welcome homosexual persons into the faith community, and seek out those on the margins. Avoid stereotyping and condemning. Strive first to listen.”

To welcome, to seek, to listen and to love: this good advice must be the starting point for Francis’s outreach to those who oftentimes find themselves on margins of the church, especially members of the LGBT community.

Some say this approach of preaching God’s love is too soft.


This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the very point of our faith.

Pope Benedict said it well: God’s love for all of humanity is the “summary of the Christian life”

Sadly, many of our gay friends don’t feel welcome to enter into the life of the church.

That must change.

Pope Francis—as the Vicar of Christ—will wash the feet of 12 young prisoners this week to demonstrate what he’s preached: that “true power is service [to those who are on the margins].”

In this spirit, I hope he also takes time over the first months of his papacy to break bread and begin dialogue with gay Catholics who with great love of Christ and of the church are trying to find a home in this universal faith community.

His message can be simple, but can once again proclaim the fundamental truths of our faith: You are children of God. He loves you. Christ walks with you. The pope cherishes you, and the church welcomes you.

Christopher Hale is a co-founder of Millennial and did national Catholic outreach for President Obama’s re-election campaign. You can follow him on Twitter @chrisjollyhale.

  • albertcooper

    The Roman Catholic Church or/and a new Pope will not change to the whim of modernism.Homosexual men are not excluded from the faith,but buggery/sodomy is sinfull and will never be accepted as anything els. I am a sinner and I have sinned.We all have a cross to bear on life,some greater some smaller,but excuses in sin is a false ideal

  • TulsaV

    Hate the sin, love the sinner. This is not new for the Catholic faith.

  • Watcher1

    Well, they’re obviously not excluded from the priesthood.

Read More Articles

Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

An Untold Story of Bondage to Freedom: Passover 1943

How a foxhole that led to a 77-mile cave system saved the lives of 38 Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust.

Friend or Foe? Learning from Judas About Friendship with Jesus

We call Judas a betrayer. Jesus called him “friend.”

Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism

The all-or-nothing approach to the Bible used by skeptics and fundamentalists alike is flawed.

Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.