The push for a meeting of same-sex-attracted Catholics with Pope Francis runs contrary to one of the main reasons for the Pontiff’s first American visit. The last event on his five-day schedule will be in Philadelphia: the closing Mass for the World Meeting of Families, a triennial event meant to strengthen the natural family founded on the marriage of a man and woman. The Church and many Catholics have been supporting such initiatives as a way to counter the growing acceptance of “alternative” relationships and families.
That’s not stopping some from pushing a different agenda, of course. The Times reports that about 14 families with gay or transgender members have registered to attend the World Meeting of Families. Deb Word, president of Fortunate Families, a support group for Catholic parents seeking full inclusion of their gay children in the church, said her group applied to have a table in the exhibit hall, but was rejected.
As the Times pointed out, though the Pope’s words during an in-flight interview, “Who am I to judge?” have been interpreted to mean that he is open to a new understanding of homosexuality in the Church, he has perhaps more often spoken out strongly in support of orthodoxy. On a visit to the Philippines in January, Pope Francis said that “the family is threatened by growing efforts” to “redefine the very institution of marriage,” the Times noted. He also criticized wealthy Western countries for imposing their ideas about gender on developing countries, calling it “ideological colonization.”
A month later, he was quoted in a book saying that “gender theory,” which holds that gender is a social construct, is one of the great modern dangers to humanity, like nuclear weapons.