Now, as I said, nothing he has said or done runs counter to what the Catholic Church has preached all along; everyone knows that Jesus loved prisoners: it's totally in the Bible; Catholics are told on our first Sunday school that God gave his Son to the World, not just Catholics; and John Paul made it very clear that homosexuals are to be treated with sensitivity and welcomed into the Catholic community. It is just so nice to see a leader of the Church actually practicing the Catholic faith instead of running their mouths about their own personal fears and biases.
Frankly, the active antipathy among Catholic leaders against homosexuality is ridiculous. I understand that the Catholic Church sees homosexuality as "disordered" and sinful, but divorce also sinful, and Catholic leaders are not holding rallies against that. Archbishop Timothy Dolan, head of the American Conference of Bishops, who stated in a sermon that divorce is the greatest threat to marriage, still forbid a LGBT group into St. Patrick's Cathedral. He doesn't ban divorced people from entering the Church; why all the focus on homosexuals? I kind of hope that the Pope's recent statements will expose homophobic rhetoric and action of the leadership for what they actually are: pompous statements made by very old men.
It's just really too bad that aforementioned old homophobes get so much media exposure. Catholics do not hate gays; really. Okay, so the Pope John Paul's "disordered thinking" encyclical does not get us off on the right foot as far as our public image,but the truth is that Catholic doctrine is very nuanced in its approach to homosexuality (No other group of people get a "sensitivity" clause). Most American Catholics support gay marriage and there are plenty of Catholic leaders who are completely supportive of gay rights, and speak out against the homophobic elements of the Church.
My church actually just participated in the Gay Pride Parade. Amani and I went, but we didn't end up marching; after waiting two and a half hours, our portion of the parade still hadn't moved anywhere near the starting point, so I had to take Amani home. Still, it was really great knowing that there was a vibrant Catholic community that didn't embrace hate. (And Amni learned to say "pretty costume" which was awesome.) I was moved by what my pastor wrote in the bulletin explaining why he marched in the parade. The whole letter is worth the read if you have the time, but this is my favorite part:
"...We are chosen in love and called by love to tell others that they, too, are chosen and loved, not because they can become like us but because they already are like God".
Now that is a message I can get behind.