The Church, in my view, is an outdated, chauvinistic club where old guys go to hang out together, put on fabulous outfits and point a judgmental finger at the rest of the world. The more the media gives the club attention, the more sway it seems to have over both the important and trivial things in our lives.
But, I realize that millions of people are impressed and even swayed by the rhetoric of the Church, especially when it comes to LGBT issues and homosexuality. So, of course, I’ve been asked my opinion of the Catholic Church’s recent decision to not hate same-sex couples as much as it used to, then it’s about-face return to “oh, wait, we didn’t mean that, it’s still okay to not be okay with gays, just don’t be so loud about it.”
Early on during an October synod—a gathering of Catholic bigwigs in Rome—discussing familial matters, there were indications that the Church would lighten up a bit on same-sex couples and divorced parishioners and those who have remarried. Divorced Catholics, you see, can’t take communion unless their previous marriage is annulled. They literally can’t have a church cookie if they’ve been divorced.
But conservative Catholics collectively lost their minds when there was a hint of softer language when it came to these two groups. So much so that after the 200 men in attendance voted, language that originally applauded the “precious support” sometimes found in same-sex unions was dropped and replaced with a sentence saying gays must be “welcomed with respect and delicacy.”
It’s okay, I don’t see that much of a difference in the two statements either. One recognizes that gays do, in fact, have relationships with other people and the other just simply says that gay people exist.
On the topic of remarried Catholics, the final document seems to express a need for more study on that situation, so no solution has yet been officially posted.
Many LGBT Catholics are optimistic about the change regarding gays, saying that it’s a step in the right direction. Those of us who aren’t so religious or a member of the denomination see very little movement here, but then again, the Catholic Church isn’t known for its aggressive and speedy inquiries into discrimination cases, errors or scientific studies.
Take, for example, the 1633 case of Italian physicist, mathematician, engineer, astronomer, and philosopher Galileo Galilei. The Church condemned the scientist for the “heresy” of his discovery that the solar system as we know it today existed, and that the Earth was not the center of it, which was taught by the church.
To believe differently, the Church said, was to refute a strict biblical interpretation of the Creation that “God fixed the Earth upon its foundation, not to be moved forever.
Galileo was given a choice by the Church: recant his beliefs and remain under house arrest or get burned at the stake. Of course, he chose the former.
In 1757, the Church unbanned Galileo’s “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems,” which argued against the Earth-is-the-center-of-the-solar-system belief. In 1984, the Church began a 13-year investigation into whether or not it screwed up in a case three centuries old!
In the 1990s, Pope John Paul II shared with the world that the Church was wrong to condemn Galileo.
It took the Catholic Church more than 350 years to admit that a scientific discovery it loathed and condemned because it contradicted it’s teaching was, in reality, a factual statement.
So by comparison, to take a minute step toward the direction of tolerance of LGBT worshipers is a huge progressive step for the ancient institution.
But if the case of Galileo is any indication, it will be decades, if not longer, before the Catholic Church finally embraces LGBTs and our families.
To many of the world’s faithful, the Church’s belief system is an important model and moral code by which to live. But for me, I’ll continue to keep that system in mind as a reference for the next Hollywood offering featuring an exorcism.