I need more proof. A Chilean guy named Juan Carlos Cruz claims that Pope Francis told him during a private talk in the Vatican, to wit, “You know Juan Carlos, that does not matter. God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say.” “Like this” is gay: Cruz is a gay man who had the misfortune of being one of the victims of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest in Chile. In journalism circles, an issue has been raised regarding reporting the name of alleged perpetrators of heinous crimes, especially those of mass murderers who go on shooting sprees; the reasoning goes that naming these individuals draws attention to them when what they deserve is to be forgotten in the dustbin of history. I have no compunction naming the alleged predator of Cruz and those poor Chilean kids: his name is Father—what a joke!—Karadima and he was found guilty of sexual abuse by the Vatican seven years ago. Now 87, he escaped prosecution only because of prescription, that is, the passage of time. In law, crimes may not be prosecuted beyond a certain number of years depending on the gravity of the offense, but in cases of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, even if the victims complain, the institution covers up the abuse and in many cases, as testified by survivors like Cruz himself, the Church itself tells them that they are likely “liars” or that they “probably liked” being abused.”
But like I said, I need more proof. Not that I disbelieve Cruz, it is more like I disbelieve the Church. Francis may be Pope, and even by the principles of Petrine succession, which renders him the rock upon which the Church is built, but judging from Cruz’s statement, Francis was only voicing a personal opinion. In other words, he is not speaking for the Church itself. That would explain the apology behind closed doors, thus officially, homosexuality is still considered a grave sin and an “objective disorder,” whatever the hell that means. All I know is that the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder last century, I think, so. . . .
And I need more proof because the Pope’s statement confuses me. Have you ever come across the word “paralinguistics”? It’s a branch of study whose focus is not on what was said but on how it was said. Most of us get hung up on the words alone and thus often miss verbal cues, so if we take the Pope’s words just as they are, they might be taken as representing a radical dogma, but like I said, unless the Church officially declares it so, it is not. Thus, even if Pope Francis’ words had their roots in human compassion, they are essentially meaningless. What interests me, therefore, is what word he stressed.
Did he say, “God made you like THIS”? If he did, that would be significant. The mainstay of Catholic teaching on the subject is that homosexuality is a choice of the individual, that is, in being lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or queer, that “lifestyle” is an expression of free will. The implication is that if they chose not to, homosexuals could lead normal heterosexual lives and be square with the Lord. A variation of that theme goes, okay, you may be gay, however, if you do not engage in homosexual acts and remain celibate, Saint Peter will open the Pearly Gates for you. So if Pope Francis put the stress on “this,” the clear subtext is that homosexuals are creatures of God and not an abomination of nature.
Regarding choice, well, I do not think it is as simple as that. Why would people choose to be a class of people that society regards with mingled amusement and contempt, discriminates against, marginalizes, and in the case of Adolf Hitler, exterminates like vermin? Being LGBTQ cannot be easy and if there is any “choice” to be made, it is the decision to be true to oneself and to come out as openly homosexual. Hiding behind facades invites a lot of trouble, something which the Church should know about because if priests were truly shepherds, they would not be anally violating their sheep, would they? I call a spade a spade.
Or did he say, “God made you LIKE this”? That would mean that God intended gay people to like being who they are. Reading between the lines, it means that assuming homosexuality is a choice, having made that choice, gay people need not live in a shadow of shame and self-hate, that they can like—even love—who they are and that it’s okay with God. Reading beyond the lines, it would say, too, that there would be no reason for others to DISLIKE gay people for being who they are. The difference in stress may be minuscule, but I believe it significant.
There are gay and lesbian people in my life who I love and respect. They are fine and upstanding people, each one, more so than some heterosexual people I know, that’s for sure, and I need no proof that God loves them just as they are.