The Pope has Changed his Mind on Same-Sex Marriage…What is Next?

By: Sam Ross

Edited by:  Julia Neves

“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22). 

This is one of the most infamous excerpts from the Christian bibles. It is often shouted in hate or displayed on picket signs. This line can be found in the Leviticus section, which was created to instruct people on maintaining holiness within their lives so that the Lord may dwell upon them. That being said, this line very directly implies that there is no place for homosexuality in holiness.  

This line of scripture, combined with the teachings from early Church fathers, played a significant role in shaping the negative ways in which the Catholic church perceives homosexual relationships. This negativity is seen across the board, from homophobic rhetoric by members of clergy to protests by adherents to the faith. 

Recent news from the Vatican shows some promise in the development of these outdated homophobic beliefs from the Catholic church. Pope Francis announced that Roman Catholic priests could now bless same-sex couples. Marriages in the Catholic faith are blessed, because it gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church.

The Vatican’s rationale for allowing gay marriages to be blessed is that they believe that those who seek God’s love and mercy should not be subjected to an exhaustive moral analysis to receive it. The reason why this is such a monumental event to have happened is that, according to a Psychologist at the University of Manitoba, Dr. Altemeyer, the most difficult hostile views on gay people to change are those whose views derive from their religion. That being said, having the pope, one whose opinion is respected above all else by the millions of Catholics in the world, is a significant step in the right direction to changing the minds of many homophobic religious people. 

It should be made clear that this changing of ruling does not necessarily mean that the Catholic church is allying themselves with the LGBTQ community. Along with releasing their statement of change, the Vatican also made clear that these blessings “should not be confused with the sacrament of marriage between men and women.” While blessings will be allowed for gay marriages, they are not to be considered as sacred as a straight marriage. While this is still undoubtedly riddled with homophobia and is far from being politically correct, it does show that progress is possible. This ruling provides a significant stepping stone for the future of queer people and the goal of ultimately eliminating homophobia from society. 

While this statement from the Pope was monumental, it has not been well received universally by adherents to the Catholic faith. Many people have expressed their unhappiness with the pope’s decision. While I was reading more on this issue, there were discussion threads and comment sections filled with heaps of negativity towards this progression, one comment stating, “Very sad and sickening; however, we are in the last days. We are witnessing the great falling away.

However, individual members of the faith are not the only people who have expressed their discontent with the pope’s new rule, and this hesitation can be seen through clergy members. Some conservative bishops in Africa, in particular, are prominent examples of those who will be boycotting the Vatican’s decision. Much of the logic behind their decision to stick with what they know is not only to respect tradition but also per the laws of their country; Zambia, in particular, has acts of homosexuality punishable by 15 years to potentially even life in prison. 

As stated previously, this change in the decision of the pope is not the be-all and end-all solution to homophobia amongst the Catholic church. However, by doing so it will hopefully encourage more progressive dialogue to take place and  promote genuine acceptance and equality for LGBTQ+ individuals within religious communities as well as society as a whole. 

Works Cited

Host Catholic. Marriage | Host Catholic. (n.d.). https://www.hostcatholiclynn.org/marriage 

Goleman, D. (1990, July 10). Homophobia: Scientists find clues to its roots. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/1990/07/10/science/homophobia-scientists-find-clues-to-its-roots.html 

Goodyear, S. (2023, December 18). This Catholic priest is looking forward to blessing same-sex couples  | CBC Radio. CBCnews. https://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/same-sex-blessings-reverend-1.7063051

Imray, G. (2023, December 22). Some Catholic bishops reject Pope’s stance on blessings for same-sex couples. others are confused. AP News. https://apnews.com/article/vatican-pope-francis-samesex-blessings-baabeaf96ad180aa20e1df9fb4b4657e 

5NEWS. (2023, December 18). Pope Francis approves same-sex blessings. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yy3KbxSft7Q  

Image source

Theodoranian. (2004). Flying rainbow flag at Taiwan Pride. WikiCommons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flying_rainbow_flag_at_Taiwan_Pride_20041106.jpg