Pope Francis reportedly encouraged an LGBTQ+ Catholic group to build a church “that excludes no one.”
According to L’Avvenire, the pope met with Italian LGBTQ+ Catholic group The Tent of Jonathon in a Wednesday (21 September) conference to discuss the organisation’s plan to build a hospitable church that would cater to LGBTQ+ people.
The group, which was founded in 2018, works with various religious organisations to provide “sanctuaries of welcome and support for LGBT people and for every person affected by discrimination.”
In an effort to convince Pope Francis, organisation members gave him a collection of letters from the parents of LGBTQ+ children who have faced “isolation and suspicious within the Christian community.”
Having urged religious parents to “never condemn your children” in a 26 January address, adding that parents should “not hide behind an attitude of condemnation,” the conferences appeared to convince him as he told the organisation to continue with the church’s construction.
Despite upholding traditional church teachings that claim homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered,” the pontiff has been surprisingly forthcoming about introducing LGBTQ+ members into Catholic proceedings.
In 2013, he famously said: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”
But there is still a long way to go for LGBTQ+ acceptance in the Vatican. During the same address, he condemned what was cryptically described as lobbying by the LGBTQ+ community.
“The problem is not having this orientation,” he claimed. “We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worse problem.”
Pope Francis has also repeatedly shut down any hope of same-sex marriage in the Catholic Church, most recently in 2021 when he said he “doesn’t have the power to change sacraments.”
“I have spoken clearly about this, no? Marriage is a sacrament. Marriage is a sacrament. The church doesn’t have the power to change sacraments. It’s as our Lord established.”
Excommunications for LGBTQ+ positive paraphenalia is still incredibly common in local Catholic communities. In June, a middle school was kicked out of the Catholic fold after officials refused to remove Pride and Black Lives Matter flags from school grounds.
In a statement, Massachusetts bishop Robert J. McManus, who chose to excommunicate the Nativity School of Worcester, said: “I publicly stated in an open letter…that ‘these symbols (flags) embody specific agendas or ideologies (that) contradict Catholic social and moral teaching
“It is my contention that the ‘Gay Pride’ flag represents support of gay marriage and actively living a LGBTQ+ lifestyle.”
In response, school president Thomas McKenney said that the flags “represent the inclusion and respect of all people” and that they simply state “that all are welcome at Nativity and this value of inclusion is rooted in Catholic teaching.”