Facing conservative backlash, Pope no longer “welcomes” gays

Who knew the word of God was subject to lobbying?

I’d reported yesterday on the “preliminary” draft of a new Vatican document that was downright surprising in its conciliatory tone towards gays, including some rather friendly comments about civil unions and cohabitation.

Under a section of the document titled “welcoming homosexual persons,” the gathering of bishops, hand-selected by Pope Francis, had this to say:

Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities?

The answer to their question is: No.

Under pressure from conservatives, the Vatican has now deleted any reference to “welcoming” gay people, and now simply asks whether we should “provide” for gays — whatever that means.


Pope Francis. neneo / Shutterstock.com

Pope Francis. neneo / Shutterstock.com

I’m not Catholic, but I am Greek Orthodox, and aside from the Catholics’s evangelism in politics, the religions aren’t that far off. But one thing that’s always intrigued me is the Catholics’ insistence that the Pope is infallible; i.e., he can never make a mistake.

Such claims may come as a surprise to Galileo, who was found guilty of heresy in 1633 for suggesting that maybe — just maybe — the earth revolved around the sun, and not the other way around.

The Catholic church eventually concluded in 1992, after a 13-year investigation into the matter, that Galileo was right. God, apparently, was never terribly good at astronomy.

So, it’s not like the Pope hasn’t made mistakes. Still, it is intriguing to find that the word of God is subject to political pressure, and that ecclesiastical “Welcome” mat can be summarily pulled out from under your feet, simply because some underlings disagree with God’s infallible mouthpiece.

One would think that God would hold the upper hand in such — well, any — such discussions or negotiations. But in fact, the Vatican, and this Pope, are subject to the prevailing political winds. Which I suppose isn’t surprising, but it is disappointing.

Apparently, God’s will, like sausage, is something you really don’t want to see made.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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74 Responses to “Facing conservative backlash, Pope no longer “welcomes” gays”

  1. andrea952AndreaREliasandrea952 says:

    my Aunty Eva got an almost new Nissan Maxima from only workin part-time on a pc at home…read…>> -> START FREELANCING!!! <-

  2. Indigo says:

    That sounds about right. I’ve wondered at times about George Washington. He stopped after two terms with high sounding words but he was also somewhat beleaguered and, I suspect, had had quite enough.

  3. UncleBucky says:

    It could be. Here’s a good question, however. Not to you, but to the audience.

    When was the last US President that was worn out or literally stopped in his tracks by conservatives? I will say that it was Lincoln, and, you know…

    I don’t think that it was Carter. Something else was going on there. I don’t even think that it was Kennedy or Truman, regardless of the events.

    On reflection, in any case where racism and southernISM was at the root of the problem, there has been and there will be this wearing out of a Progressive.

  4. Naja pallida says:

    It sure seems like some people like to think an awful lot about it, for something they claim to find abhorrent. Seems to me that if you’ve ever spent much time considering how a couple has sex, it’s you that is the ‘bizarre’ one, not two people just living their lives.

  5. 2karmanot says:

    “When you think about two men having sex via their rear ends its pretty bizarre” Maybe for you Professor kemosabi.

  6. Moderator3 says:

    I’m certain you will be happy with her.

  7. P. McCoy says:

    So what! Millions are happy to have abortions. Just because she so called ‘found religion’ doesn’t give her (or you) to impose feelings on everyone else.

  8. Janc says:

    And if you’re gay and consider you should have equality what about the rights of the unborn as well”?

  9. Janc says:

    The plaintiff known as Jane Roe says she was hurt by abortion.

  10. Janc says:

    Yes, his hopes for the synod have been overturned.

  11. Janc says:

    Obviously the moderators on this site cannot stand the truth.

  12. RhianFloreyeke says:

    Start earning extra income with online work from your home… Make extra $5000 every month by working for a few hours a day. You’ll need an internet connection and USA,UK,AUSTRALIA, CANADA or NEW ZEALAND residency and you are ready to start… You’ll get paid weekly… Start by checking the “HOME tab” on following page……>> -> MAKING MONEY WITH ONLINE JOBS! <-

  13. TheOriginalLiz says:

    As if anyone needed more proof that the Vatican has nothing to do with the teachings of Christ and everything to do with money and power.

  14. Moderator4 says:

    We think you would be happier at another blog. You are banned.

  15. P. McCoy says:

    Is there a way from preventing the Pope from visiting the United States? He belongs in the Netherlands in the Hague in the docket before the World Court. Why didn’t I get to vote to decide whether or not the U States has diplomatic relations with the Vatican?

  16. P. McCoy says:

    The only women ‘hurt by abortion’ are those that have been brainwashed by religious fanatics to believe that a parasitic fetus is more worthy of life than the women themselves.

  17. P. McCoy says:

    Paterno was not a ‘homo-sexual’ rape is about abuse of power and that’s the onerous cult that is Catholicism

  18. Justice PonZee says:

    The issue really is; can any two people, without regard to sex, contract marriage in the USA? The simple answer is YES. If the Catholic Church believes that same sex marriage is immoral they can prohibit it in their churches. That is just fine. The government cannot decree to any church group wht is or is not moral. That is the church groups’ specific province. There are many people who think that gay or same sex marriage is bizarre and they think transgender people are even more bizarre. They can think that in America and even live their lives on that basis. In America we honor that. We certainly do not have to agree with it, but our agreement is not necessary for the contrary thought to exist and not be subject to government regulation or control in any way. When you think about two men having sex via their rear ends its pretty bizarre by definition. Unless being bizarre is normal, there is nothing normal about it. But normality does not control legality in America. Our Constitution controls legality where it applies. The general principle is very easy to grasp. Gays do not promote descriptions of two men having sex because the descriptions are offensive to many people. That is the whole problem with using the method of having sex describe a person. It is not a real smart category to use. Too many people think it is weird to base categories of people on how they have sex. A lot of people think that two men engaging in sex or other romantic activities is real weird. Where do you think the term ‘queer’ comes from? That’s right, weird behavior, as in queer behavior. That is what queer means, weird, bizarre, etc. Gays use the term to describe themselves. It is an accurate description that I am surprised gay people actually use. Its not a nice word to describe yourself with, very pejorative in my opinion. So what do you think?

  19. rmthunter says:

    The French and Spanish translations are also unchanged. Now we know where all the “conservatives” are.

  20. chanel3 says:

    I think you should read about the Roe v Wade case: The former plaintiff known as “Jane Roe” in the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court
    case that legalized abortion sought to have the case overturned in a
    motion filed Tuesday that asks the courts to consider new evidence that
    abortion hurts women.

  21. chanel3 says:

    When they weed out the homosexuals in the Church the problem will go away because the victims are mostly boys over the age of puberty.

  22. chanel3 says:

    It will be changed in the African document as well because African bishops are speaking out. Apparently there has been a huge backlash against Pope Francis but mainsteam media is not reporting it. The Italian media are trying to place the blame on bishops appointed by Pope Francis for the misstatements and errors in the original document.

  23. BloggerDave says:

    Actually, the American Catholic Church made that change in the English language version only… Rome was asked today whether they had changed their mind and they said that it wasn’t changed in the Italian version which is the official document…

  24. 2karmanot says:


  25. 2karmanot says:

    There is no surprise here. The Catholic Church is an enemy of humanity,

  26. jomicur says:

    No one has ever argued that Francis isn’t saying the right things. But saying the right thing doesn’t really count for much if you don’t actually DO the right thing as well. To take a pointed example, remember “I will not sign any health care bill that does not include a public option”?

  27. jomicur says:

    Slight correction: Infallibility not only applies to the pope but technically to church councils as well. There’s all kinds of legalistic wiggle-room- locus-pocus about what actually constitutes an infallible council and when a council is speaking infallibly. For instance, Vatican II, with all its sweeping reforms, is now not held to have been infallible, because that would be way too inconvenient for Holy Mother Church’s rulers. But back in the 60s, when I was in the seminary, we were assured that it was infallible. Nifty, huh?

  28. jomicur says:

    That’s the convenient thing about the “doctrine of infallibility.” It boils down to “I’m infallible when I say I am. Otherwise I have as much wiggle room as any other corporate executive.” Francis just seems to be better at doing PR than his predecessors, that’s all. And any savvy corporate type understands the enormous PR value to be gotten from a trial balloon.

  29. Houndentenor says:

    It took them 500 years to admit they were wrong to persecute Galileo, so yes they are slow on the uptake these Catholics. I don’t see how that’s an excuse since they are supposed to have all this divine guidance. Why are they so often wrong? Oh right, because it’s all about consolidating their own power and not at all about any truth, divine or otherwise.

  30. rmthunter says:

    I don’t think it was intended as a cheap shot, but it is sort of gratuitous. Besides, I’m an editor — fact-checking is a reflex. (Unless you work for a major news outlet.)

  31. nicho says:

    Well, they were out there with it. This guy is a Jesuit. You never know what they’re up to. Don’t take them at face value.

  32. nicho says:

    There are a lot of “lady priests.” I think you meant to say “women priests.” :-)

  33. nicho says:

    Not a cheap shot at all. It’s a very common misunderstanding — even among Catholics.

  34. jm2 says:

    an article in the Chicago Sun-Times this morning states that they only changed the wording in the English translation and the original Italian and translations in other languages stay true to the Italian. what sort of game is this? appeasement to the Burke’s?


  35. jm2 says:

    compared to Benedict & JPII, he’s a moderate though…

  36. rmthunter says:

    I’m willing to give Francis the benefit of the doubt on this — whatever his motives, he’s making some right moves. Keep in mind, also, that, although he’s the final authority, he’s not a dictator: he has to accommodate the Cardinals — hence the Synod.

    And it helps to keep in mind, as well, that the Church is an institution with nearly 2,000 years of inertia to overcome. Nothing’s going to happen overnight. I think this preliminary document takes a fairly extreme position deliberately, to move the discussion farther to the left. Gods know, we’ve seen that tactic enough in our own politics, although here it tends to move in the other direction.

  37. rmthunter says:

    There’s a little more to it than that. Jim Burroway has a very good post that offers some insights into the whole process involving this document and the synod: http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2014/10/15/67496

    This relatio is a preliminary document, a basis for the cardinals’ discussions at a preliminary meeting, and nothing with any real effect is going to come down until the general synod next year. I also found it interesting that the Pope has summarily removed Cardinal Burke (whose nasty coments everyone, it seems, has quoted) from his position at the Apostolic Signatura, which I take, among other things, as a warning to others. As much as he comes across sometimes as Mr. Nice Guy, the man is the final authority in the Church and obviously has no compunctions about using his power.

    Burroway also makes a significant point about the reporting on this. Most of what I’ve seen has been from CNN (a/k/a Fox News Wannabe) and various blogs, and needs to be taken with a grain of salt. As for the press in general, it relies on controversy, whether there’s really a controversy or not. Burroway thinks this story has been blown way out of proportion, and looking at it, I think he’s correct. We’re looking at a preliminary working paper, and some perhaps ill-considered responses to it, before discussions in the curia have even started. (And does anyone think Francis gives a flying flip what Tony Perkins or Maggie Gallagher think?)

    What’s most interesting to me is that this discussion, still in its early stages, is taking place much more publicly than I would expect from the Vatican.

    Oh, and about the pope’s infallibility: even I, a non-Catholic, know that papal infallibility is limited to when he is speaking officially — ex cathedra — on matters of doctrine. That’s it. Any other pronouncement or comment is outside that realm and subject to error. Although I love this blog (it’s the first thing I read in the morning, after e-mail, and have for years), that comes across as a cheap shot.

  38. Indigo says:

    I would add Obama the Worn Out to that list.

  39. AdmNaismith says:

    Talk all you want about the attitudes of this latest pope, until I see lady priests there is nothing to really say.

    Have they stopped fucking the children, yet? Because I have not heard a definitive ‘yes’ on that yet. Have they even decided it’s wrong?

    Again, they know what they need to do not to be considered utter wastes of space.

  40. The_Fixer says:

    It’s pretty obvious that, from the beginning, this so-called kinder and gentler presentation of the Roman Catholic Church is just that and no more; a PR job. I think that the Pope Francis knew that the Catholic Church has quite an image problem, and set out to attempt a repair. His task was to do said PR job without actually changing their beliefs to mesh with a modern understanding of humanity.

    Of course, the intent was never to change their basic beliefs, it was just nice words (and those were retracted). Sure, there may be people in that organization who genuinely want to see a change and perhaps even have a scriptural basis for believing so. But they are a minority to be steamrolled by the old guard.

    It’s not like it would be hard for them to change their views based on their holy book. Start with re-reading the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and understanding what was written. Point out that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. Make mention of the fact that human beings did not know what homosexuality was in biblical times, and that a lot of their God’s supposed words were misinterpreted. Also, they might want to talk about the fact that the church has been wrong in the past, and correcting past wrongs is the kind of justice that their Jesus talked about.

    Instead of moving forward in a logical manner, the old guard is digging in. While it’s supposed to be admirable to “stick to your guns”, it’s really nothing but simple stubbornness in this case. When the world keeps pointing out how wrong you are, at some point you have to re-evaluate.

    I don’t expect them to do that anytime soon.

  41. UncleBucky says:

    OK, I’ll run with that.

    But the last real presidents (as you describe it) might have been Roosevelt, Truman and maybe Eisenhower, although there is always a backroom for anyone with limited power. I imagine that the times when we really had a “secret president” was during Reagan, Bush, and Bush the Lesser.

    Checks and balances is the ideal, true, but the last century has been ridiculous.

  42. nicho says:

    Come on. He and his roommate Georg are just good friends.

  43. nicho says:

    1. Wotyla also participated in the deck stacking.

    2. Francis is not a moderate. Just ask the priests he betrayed to the right-wingers in Argentina. He’s just a good con artist.

  44. Indigo says:

    I don’t know that we’re in Puppetland, exactly, but your comment puts me in mind of a clever line from Adult Swim’s series, Venture Brothers. Occasional reference to “the Secret President” helps maintain the level of satirical conspiracy theories. And you know, I’m not so sure we don’t have a “Secret President” since, as far as I can see, the White House Resident doesn’t look to be in charge, not really. And ditto the Papacy. Obviously there’s a Gray Eminence in the background, we just don’t know who it’d be. I bet Benedict has a finger in that pie. Puppetland, no so much. Planet Misdrection? Very much so.

  45. Indigo says:

    That sounds likely.

  46. jm2 says:

    Francis, in fact, did not speak. it was a committee that did in a draft statement. that being so, there is no question of infallibility. the pope has to address an issue formally. i believe it also has to be in the written form of an encyclical or from the office of the Doctrine of the faith with his ‘imprematur.’

    that being said, Benedict stacked the deck with many ultra conservative bishops. Francis, a moderate at best, was a shock. i would bet they are kicking themselves. Africa & the U.S. are the main problem. Africa because of the inherent ultra ultra conservatism & the U.S. not only because of the conservative louts but because at least 80% of the laity of the RC here don’t follow most church teaching. they can’t be bothered what Burke or Dolan or the others say & the laity knows they aren’t listened to so they don’t speak up.

  47. BeccaM says:

    The formal modern definition of papal inerrancy dates to the First Vatican Council of 1868.

    Prior to that, the Vatican had this weird informal system where sometimes people couldn’t be sure what was and what wasn’t intended to be a “you may not contradict this, ever”-type pronouncement from the Pope. Through the Middle Ages though, it was pretty much situational — powerful Popes got to say just about anything and have it have the force of law; the weak ones couldn’t. But once the Roman Catholic Inquisition really got rolling, there was little they couldn’t command as a basic tenet of required faith, morality, and behavior.

    The Council of Trent, which was overseen by three successive popes resulted in a whole list of decrees, deviation from which would bring charges of heresy — and either imprisonment or execution, which is what happened to Galileo (imprisonment in his case).

    Anyway, the idea of “the Pope, when speaking as the voice of the Church, is NEVER wrong” was already well established during the Counter-Reformation and was even discussed by Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century.

  48. Wilberforce says:

    It makes me so sad to think that we don’t have one leader smart enough to put these nutjobs in their place. But of course, our leaders are chosen for their looks, and membership in various identity groups, not for their knowledge or skill. So it isn’t surprising.

  49. Houndentenor says:

    It’s not as if there’s any need to get the story right on tv “news”.

  50. Houndentenor says:

    Which shows you why tv news is not worth watching. No one could be bothered to read what was actually said. They bought into some superficial PR and ran with it, talking out their collective asses, as they are overpaid to do. I couldn’t be happier not to be paying for cable any longer. “Where do you get news?” people ask me. From actual news sources and not from idiots on cable tv, is my response.

  51. Houndentenor says:

    There were actually riots in Rome when that doctrine was announced.

  52. Houndentenor says:

    There has been no “nudging forward”. Just an attempt to put a smile on the same sexist and homophobic bullshit. Shame on anyone naive enough to be fooled by this con-job.

  53. Houndentenor says:

    Including the last (still living) pope.

  54. Houndentenor says:

    I can’t believe that a church that continues to shield child rapists from criminal prosecution is still treated as a moral authority.

  55. Houndentenor says:

    I can’t believe anyone was stupid enough to fall for this. The media has decided that this is the “nice” pope. He says some meaningless feel good things and everyone acts like he’s changed church teachings when no such change has happened or even been implied to happen. it’s like the abusive spouse who’s so nice to you when he’s not beating the shit out of you. What will it take for people to see through the Francis PR machine? I really expected more from John of all people than to buy into this bullshit.

  56. UncleBucky says:

    Well done!

  57. UncleBucky says:

    I told y’all. The Pope is obviously NOT in control of the RCC. We are in Puppetland.

  58. Bill_Perdue says:

    There’s nothing new here. Bergoglio is as right wing as his predecessor, Ratzinger, who was a Nazi. Bergoglio is an enabler of the mass murders that occurred in Argentina during the 1969’s-70’s.

    The only time he’d be in danger is if he visited the neighborhoods of the families of the thousands of student and union leaders who were ‘disappeared’ and he’s probably too smart to risk that.

    “It dates back more than three decades to Argentina’s so-called “dirty war”; the 1976 to 1983 military dictatorship that killed an estimated 30,000 people. The most serious allegation against Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio (as Pope Francis was known until last week) is that in May 1976 he allowed the junta to abduct two Jesuit priests, Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics. According to Bergoglio’s chief accuser, Argentine journalist Horacio Verbitsky, he withdrew protection from the two men, effectively enabling the junta to kidnap and torture them.” http://www.theglobalmail.org/blog/what-did-pope-francis-really-do-during-the-dirty-war/579/

  59. Rambie says:

    And they won’t, they’ll ignore this just like they do any other retractions/backtracking from anyone.

  60. mwdavis says:

    That’s my understanding also. And it’s a realtively recent doctrine – in it’s formal form dating to the late 1800s (it was a common belief as early as the middle ages but wasn’t a formal doctrine until about last 150 or so years.)

  61. FLL says:

    Nice to know that the final word on civil rights in democracies is the constitution of your country of residence, not the Vatican or some other religious authority.

  62. Indigo says:

    That’s entirely believable.

  63. nicho says:

    First the Vatican has to square itself with the large numbers of gays in the priesthood, episcopate, and College of Cardinals.

  64. Fireblazes says:

    It was all a translation mistake. Apparently it is easy to mistake “welcome” in Italian for “welcome” in English. The proper translation is “fuck you”.

  65. Colin says:

    As I have said time and time again. It aint over yet. The hate mongers are not done. Am I happy that gay marriage is winning some battles? Absolutely. I was happy about Roe v Wade also.
    Am I happy that this Pope has attempted to slowly nudge progress forward. You bet. But I feel that we are generations away from being accepted as equal human beings. Our black brothers and sisters have yet to get there. And I hate to keep going on about it but as I have stated before my wonderful Sister , we should be joyful in some of these small victories but keep our armor well polished and be surprised at nothing that the small minded come up with next.

  66. dommyluc says:

    Gee, it’s just wonderful that kiddie rapists can be so morally superior.

  67. Badgerite says:

    The last sentence was superb. I don’t see how the RCC is going to square itself with the general acceptance of gays as people among their ‘flocks’ in Europe and the Americas unless they start to alter some of their ‘infallible’ beliefs and soon. This one is at the top of the list. But, of course, they still haven’t accepted the use of contraceptives yet. So……….

  68. BeccaM says:

    I grew up Roman Catholic and spent many Sundays in catechism classes…before the pastor asked my parents to remove me for asking increasingly impertinent questions and possible demonic influence. (Yes, he used those words.)

    First of all, a council of Bishops, which what this conference was, isn’t the Pope. As Nicho correctly notes below, infallibility is only invoked when the Pope is making an official ‘ex cathedra’ declaration. Discussions and debate on what is and isn’t considered ‘infallible’ was the top topic at the First Vatican Council of 1868.

    Even once this paper is delivered, it is highly unlikely it’ll be given ex cathedra status. But we should also not be at all surprised the Church isn’t gonna change its stripes anytime for the foreseeable future.

  69. nicho says:

    An acquaintance who spends a lot of time in the Vatican — Vatican gossip is so delicious — says that the word in the hallways is that Francis has hired the Mafia to protect him. He doesn’t want to go the way of John Paul I — who poked the bear and didn’t last very long.

  70. nicho says:

    You grossly misunderstand infallibility. It does not mean that the pope is never wrong. It means that the pope — when speaking on matters of faith and morality and, more specifically, when he makes a formal declaration “ex cathedra” or from the throne of Peter — is considered infallible. That has only happened twice, since the doctrine of infallibility was defined. If the pope says, “I think it’s going to rain tomorrow,” he can be wrong.

  71. Jackie Hill says:

    Wow, I thought change was a comin, guess not!!

  72. dcinsider says:

    The pope is infallible, except when he’s not.

  73. Max_1 says:

    I rest in Peace knowing God will judge us all… even the Pope whose supposed to be infallible, but isn’t. I’ve long held, as an ex Catholic, that the RCC is the best example of what hate looks like.

  74. timncguy says:

    Several MSNBC pundits spent considerable time congratulating the church and the Pope on their new position and progressive thinking when this first hit the light. I don’t recall seeing any of them now reporting on the backtracking based on the backlash.

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