On Thursday, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco participated in the homophobic March for Marriage across from the Supreme Court, leading thousands of protesters in prayer against same-sex marriages.
The rally, organized by National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, promoted the idea that LGBT relationships are somehow lesser than heterosexual relationships, and it had the full support of the Catholic Church. SF Gate reported that Cordileone told the crowd that he has "'the support of Pope Francis for what we are doing today,' citing approval by the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See to the United States, the Vatican's diplomatic mission in Washington."
Pope Francis has certainly brought some good PR to the Church when it comes to LGBT equality. In response to a question about gay priests in the Catholic Church, he replied, "If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?" He was later named The Advocate's Person of the Year for setting a new tone of compassion for LGBT people within the Church.
But as incidences like the Church's approval of the March for Marriage shows, Pope Francis is not the LGBT rights hero that some media groups have made him out to be. It's important to note that the "who am I to judge" comment was made in reference to celibate gay priests, not about loving, non-heterosexual relationships, therefore remaining consistent with Catholic doctrine. The pope was not saying that LGBT families are just as sacred as heterosexual families, although you wouldn't get that impression from some of the media reports about his remarks. Rather, homosexual relationships are still "intrinsically disordered," as the Catechism of the Catholic Church so eloquently states.
In an interview with America magazine last August, the Pope also said:
A person once asked me, in a provocative of homosexuality. I replied with another question: 'Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?' We must always consider the person.
Perhaps if the Pope lived up to his words, he would truly consider the millions of LGBT persons his Church's teachings have harmed throughout the decades. And perhaps he wouldn't continue to endorse such teachings at hateful events like the March for Marriage.
Unfortunately, the Church's recent efforts to dehumanize LGBT people do not just have to do with marriage. Earlier this year, Catholic bishops of Arizona publicly endorsed the state's LGBT-discrimination bill, urging all Catholics to contact Governor Jan Brewer and encourage her to sign it into law. The official endorsement on their website was taken down after the governor refused to sign the bill. It's easy to see why the Church would support such an abhorrent bill, given that Catholic schools have regularly fired teachers due to their sexual orientation. Where was the Pope's outcry concerning this matter?
While it is certainly important to acknowledge the progress the Pope has brought to the Church, it is also important to keep such progress in perspective and criticize the institution's numerous failings. Until efforts are made to put a stop to the Catholic Church's involvement in hateful efforts that intentionally harm LGBT families, the Pope's words about love and acceptance are just that -- words.