Pope Francis has always had a relatively progressive opinion on LGBT issues, however his most recent statements regarding transgender people are somewhat questionable.
The Vatican released a transcript in early August from a closed-door meeting Pope Francis had with a group of Polish bishops. Segments from these transcripts included Francis calling transgender people an “annihilation of man as image of God.” He also stated his dissatisfaction with children being taught about transgender identity.
Confusing, right? Considering our apparent “Cool Pope” has been the most LGBT friendly Bishop of Rome we’ve seen. Especially after his “Who am I to Judge” quote regarding gay priests.
Many rights groups have not taken well to these statements. Director Marianne Duddy-Burke of DignityUSA, a leading organization of LGBT Catholics, said these comments represent a “dangerous ignorance.”
“It’s very troubling that the Pope would say this,” said Duddy-Burke. “It also shows that the Pope doesn’t understand the danger that his words can mean for gender-nonconforming people, particularly those who live in countries with laws or cultural pressures that put these people at risk for violence.”
This isn’t the first time Francis, has made remarks regarding the transgender community. Earlier this year, the pope, was published comparing transgender rights to nuclear weapons.
“Let’s think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings,” stated Pope Francis. “The true custody of creation does not have anything to do with the ideologies that consider man like an accident, like a problem to eliminate.”
The question we should all ask ourselves, is this a big deal? Should we just look the other way? Religious or not, what does it mean to have a person cast into a light of progressiveness turn around and make such conservative statements?
I caught myself trying to give Francis, a free pass. He’s a modern pope, so we should give him a break, I thought. But where is the line drawn? It shouldn’t be ok to shame the acceptance of transgender individuals.
These are people in our community and we can’t give this one a free pass. Not this time.
Statements casting negative light on the transgender community not only negates the statements previously made suggesting reconciliation between the LGBT community and the Catholic church, but these mixed messages are causing much uncertainty.
Author of The “Great Reformer,” Austen Ivereigh, said that the statements made by Francis, the pope, regarding transgender individuals were not representing prejudice, but a “dismissal of the so-called gender identity.” However when the word “annihilation” is used, what other choice is there than to associate all of it with prejudice?
Having a progressive leader as head of the Roman Catholic church was considered by many a godsend, no pun intended.
In my opinion, the fact that there is recognition of the LGBT community in the Catholic church, and the rhetoric surrounding it has the slightest positivity is a step forward.
However, when a single section of that community becomes singled out in a negative way, I can’t help but feel disappointed, as if we’re starting all over again.