Yesterday I spoke of the courage of Pope Francis in making the significant—albeit modest—step of allowing priests to bless gay couples (though not acknowledging gay marriage as such).
I speak of courage because the pope was up against powerful forces within and without his institution. Regarding the latter, some American non-Catholic “Christians” called the pope an instrument of Satan.
Within his own church, Pope Francis is taking on his predecessors, Popes JP II and Benedict XVI who wrote dastardly things about homosexuals.
One friend of mine who is Jewish/Buddhist wrote me about the pope’s opening to gays: “Well! Will miracles never cease! (Let’s hope!) Now, how to make up for all of the past suffering…”
Today homophobia is on the rise from Christo-fascists as hellbent on controlling homosexuals’ choices as they are about controlling women’s bodies. Over 500 anti-gay laws were introduced last year alone in America and over 75 of them passed.
The pope finds himself between a rock (St. Peter’s rock?) and a hard place as they say, trying to maneuver a giant patriarchal institution weighed down by centuries of dualism vis a vis sexuality and the body laid out by Neo-Platonist theologians such as St. Augustine 1,600 years ago. At least Pope Francis did not run from the challenge altogether nor simply cave to those who imagine that doctrines—or anything else that humans concoct—last forever unchanged and that science cannot penetrate them in any way.
Homosexuality is a question for science, just like the weather is or the question of the sun moving around the earth was 400 years ago. The Vatican got that question very wrong back then and JP II apologized— promising it wouldn’t happen again. Gays and lesbians today have no intention of waiting 400 years before, among other things, getting married.
So the Roman Catholic Church seems to be entering a bit, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century. The Anglican Church also last week allowed blessings of gay marriages (though its American version, the Episcopal Church, has been doing that for decades including ordaining gay clergy and bishops). The Methodist Church is witnessing an exit of 40% of its churches over homosexuality and many African churches are rebelling also.
Thus, Pope Francis has demonstrated some courage. But the future of religion is not with giant institutions that, like humongous ships, can barely stop or turn around. It is with spirituality and conscience and the living out of our graced natures, as Jesus and other prophets have always taught.
See Matthew Fox, “The Spiritual Journey of the Homosexual…and Just About Everyone Else,” in Fox, Wrestling with the Prophets, pp. 243-266.
And Fox, Original Blessing, pp. 51, 222, 266, 268-271.
And Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest, pp. 93,142f., 184, 202, 255f., 345f., 355, 382.
Banner Image: “Love is Love, Love Wins.” Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash
Queries for Contemplation
How are you living out your graced nature, whether gay or straight, and assisting others to do the same?
Wrestling with the Prophets: Essays on Creation Spirituality and Everyday Life
In one of his foundational works, Fox engages with some of history’s greatest mystics, philosophers, and prophets in profound and hard-hitting essays on such varied topics as Eco-Spirituality, AIDS, homosexuality, spiritual feminism, environmental revolution, Native American spirituality, Christian mysticism, Art and Spirituality, Art as Meditation, Interfaith or Deep Ecumenism and more.
Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality
Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology): the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.
“Original Blessing makes available to the Christian world and to the human community a radical cure for all dark and derogatory views of the natural world wherever these may have originated.” –Thomas Berry, author, The Dream of the Earth; The Great Work; co-author, The Universe Story
Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest (Revised/Updated Edition)
Matthew Fox’s stirring autobiography, Confessions, reveals his personal, intellectual, and spiritual journey from altar boy, to Dominican priest, to his eventual break with the Vatican. Five new chapters in this revised and updated edition bring added perspective in light of the author’s continued journey, and his reflections on the current changes taking place in church, society and the environment.
“The unfolding story of this irrepressible spiritual revolutionary enlivens the mind and emboldens the heart — must reading for anyone interested in courage, creativity, and the future of religion.”
—Joanna Macy, author of World as Lover, World as Self