Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
20 September 2013
Was That The Cracking Of A Rock We heard?
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
This is what Pope Francis said while talking to reporters on a flight back to Rome: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” (He spoke Italian but used the English word “gay.”) His predecessors judged. Pope Benedict wrote that homosexuality is “a strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.” And Pope John Paul labeled homosexuality “an ideology of evil.”
The Vatican quickly explained that Pope Francis did not repudiate the Church’s stance on homosexuality. It is still wrong, but the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, the head of all the Catholics in the world send a message of humility, “who am I to judge,” and so extended the most tentative of invitations to LGBTs around the world to join him and help reconcile dogma with reality.
This is big! Religious intransigence is a formidable obstacle on the road to equal justice and the monolithic religions, Catholicism and LDS Church, are the most formidable of all. This may be bigger than the Supreme Court’s decision allowing same sex marriage in California. We need laws to legitimize our actions toward inclusive justice and equality, but the work is in convincing people the law is just and fair and eliminating prejudice is the goal. That change requires the changing of a dialogue that has deep roots in religious dogma and acquired social values. It is arduous work; it will take generations.
Paula Deen is an example. She was born in 1947 and came of age when the 1964 Civil Rights Act became law. She has signed books all over the country and must have seen people of color in occupations other than servant. Yet almost 50 years after the law was passed, this former “queen” of the Food Network uttered the unbelievably racists comments in public without realizing just how racist they were. Remember the interview when she introduced Hollis Johnson, the young man in her life who is “as black as this board” gesturing toward a black backdrop and whom she invited to step forward, because “we can’t see you against that black board.”
Like Paula Deen, religious homophobes live in cocoons where their hateful speech is accepted, where regardless of the law they can fanatically dedicate themselves to political goals or religious beliefs that are the antitheses of a free and just community. But now a humble Pope cracked their protective cover ever so slightly and put their dogmas and beliefs in doubt. His message is do not judge, do not command, just try to understand. It is a small step, but large enough to measure and grow.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride: www.apifamilypride.org