What's critical to realize -- lest we believe that Christian doctrine actually compels its adherents to condemn gay people -- is that anti-gay religious sentiment has always been a matter of tone and focus, so a change here is both the best we're likely to get and possibly all that's really needed.
In saying "I have never been a right-winger" in the same interview in which he's criticizing the church for being too "obsessed" with gay marriage and abortion, Francis is hitting at those Catholic leaders who use gay rights and abortion to wield political power, putting them on notice.
How can liberal politicians remain a part of an institution that labels homosexuality an "intrinsic disorder," refuses to ordain women as priests and calls abortion a "moral evil," even in the case of rape or incest?
If Bill Donahue traveled a little more he'd know there are many countries where attempts to censor criticism of religion -- as the Catholic League attempts to do -- are rightly considered archaic and repulsive.
In making the decision to remove a controversial work of art from one of the Smithsonian's museums, Clough has shown that he cannot adequately uphold the mission and the legacy of this American institution.
As a Presidential Appointee in the 1980's to the National Council of the National Endowment for the Arts, it pains me enormously to see a replay of the Culture Wars that were played out so destructively in those years.
The path from David Wojnarowicz's struggle with AIDS to a Smithsonian museum announcing, ironically on World AIDS Day, that Wojnarowicz's artwork might spoil someone's Christmas, says a lot about American politics.