Yesterday’s news release by The Associated Press following an interview with Pope Francis is worthy of cautious celebration. Sitting down with AP News, the Pope publicly criticized laws that criminalize homosexuality around the world, stating quite clearly “being homosexual isn’t a crime.” The article goes on to say:
“Francis acknowledged that Catholic bishops in some parts of the world support laws that criminalize homosexuality or discriminate against LGBTQ people, and he himself referred to the issue in terms of ‘sin.’ But he attributed such attitudes to cultural backgrounds, and said bishops in particular need to undergo a process of change to recognize the dignity of everyone. ‘These bishops have to have a process of conversion,’ he said, adding that they should apply ‘tenderness, please, as God has for each one of us.’”
Harmony celebrates and acknowledges this critical milestone in which a prominent, international Christian leader publicly, intentionally, and explicitly chose to use their influence to save Queer/2SLGBTQIA+ (Queer) lives. While the Pope unfortunately continues to clearly define homosexuality as “sin,” he simultaneously creates a clear distinction between criminal acts (civil code) and sin (scriptural interpretation).
We understand that these comments by Pope Francis remain deeply problematic for members of the Queer Community, and we continue to pray for wisdom and change within the Catholic Church in order that more welcoming and affirming position statements continue to be released. However, we also note that even this seemingly simple statement is incredibly significant in its own right. For far too long, criminalization and sin have been viewed by Christians as synonymous when it comes to Queer issues. Having the leader of a major Christian denomination using their power, privilege, and influence to unequivocally condemn the criminalization of homosexuality worldwide is disarming to religious conservatives claiming to be carrying out God’s work through violence, physical harm, conversion therapy, and murder against members of the Queer Community. This statement has the ability to save lives and change hearts on a global scale.
Today, we call on Community of Christ leaders to publicly, intentionally, and explicitly call for an immediate end to the criminalization of and violence toward Queer persons around the world.
Holy work is often nonlinear. It requires cyclical revisions grounded in restorative justice. We recognize that our own unique institutional histories are anything but simple. Regardless, we continue to offer our support to prioritize this life-saving, holy work in order that we never miss an opportunity to offer sacred specificity: that God loves their Queer children just as they were created to be and that the Church has often made misguided decisions concerning the care of some of the Creator’s most vulnerable in the name of compliance and conformity.
Let us continue to courageously appeal for the very best for one another. If we don’t - who will? As the hands and feet of Jesus - we must.
Your Harmony Board of Directors