The Pope released an apostolic exhortation reaffirming the Church’s beliefs regarding traditional marriage between a man and a woman while simultaneously loosening the restrictions for divorced couples. He also called for more acceptance of gays and transgendered individuals believing that we must show more mercy and acceptance and not be so judgmental.
While I’m not surprised the Pope has decided to focus more on inclusion of all people within the Catholic faith regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, I can’t say that I’m shocked that the Pope would upend over two-thousand years of Church doctrine when it comes to marriage and sexual orientation.
The Pope has obviously been trying to help the LGBT community gain acceptance since he was chosen to the high office. However, his personal views on acceptance have never given rise for anyone to think that he might make radical changes to Church teachings and beliefs. It would literally require re-education of hundreds of thousands of cardinals, bishops, priests, nuns – and many others who subscribe to the orthodoxy – certainly a feat that could not be accomplished within a few generations.
It has been interesting to watch social media commenters from the LGBT community express frustration that the Pope is, essentially, just mere words that lack meaningful actions. Society has always changed faster than the Church, and the Church will always struggle on how best to get its message across to all members while plodding slowly. Yet, despite this crawl towards wholly accepting values of the LGBT community, the Christian tenets of compassion and acceptance towards the gay community are growing.
It’s hard to imagine that the Church will ever change its position on gay marriage in anyone’s lifetime. At least the Pope is trying to bring acceptance within the community; Islam considers being gay or transgender punishable by death under Sharia Law. And the Muslim community is slower at adopting change.