I have a dream.
I have a dream that one day all of the cardinals will be selected not based on their service to the Catholic Church, but on their performance as contestants on “Ru Paul’s Drag Race.” I have a dream that the Swiss Guard will be adorned in pink boas. I have a dream that a new pope will be announced by a billowing cloud of glitter. The papal staff will be bedazzled. I have a dream that onlookers will someday be greeted on the balcony not by a stuffy, old, white man, but a perky, perverted pop star. Lady Gaga for Pope!
OK, let me slow down. This scenario is not in line with the identity of the Catholic Church. The Church is a powerful institution mired in thousands of years of tradition and doctrine and it will not change so drastically overnight, nor would its adherents want it to do so. That being said, the election of Pope Francis is a giant step backward for the Church in its treatment of gays and lesbians. His election illustrates the distance of the church hierarchy from modern social values. His comments on homosexuality appear to be taken directly from the Spanish Inquisition scene in Monty Python. Not only is homosexuality a sin, but according to Pope Francis, it’s “destructive to the plan of God.” I guess now that he was elected Pope by a group of human men known for protecting child molesters, he’s technically allowed to speak for God, but doesn’t his statement seem a bit heavy-handed?
The most disturbing view of Pope Francis is his belief that not only should gay couples be prevented from adopting children, but that this practice is “discrimination against children.” Such a statement not only touches outside his jurisdiction as a religious leader, as adoption is regulated by secular governments, but dehumanizes the couples looking to adopt. This statement is disrespectful to gay men and women attempting against all odds to give their children the best lives possible. Among lesbian parents, the rate of child abuse is less than 1 percent. Although there are poor parents of all sexual orientations, gay couples that set out to raise a child often have more resources to dedicate to child-rearing. Giving a child a safer, more stable life can hardly be considered discrimination. Pope Francis is not basing his statements on empirical evidence but his own bigotry.
Fortunately the good news outweighs the bad; we don’t need the Pope. Representing an antiquated ideal, the Pope lacks monolithic power in today’s modern world. Even in his native Argentina, Pope Francis was unable to prevent the legalization of gay marriage. The deviants of society no longer have to beg the Pope for mercy or a tiny grain of recognition. If anything, it’s the other way around. If the Catholic Church refuses to promote a more tolerant policy when given countless opportunities, it will inevitably find itself on the wrong side of history.