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Time Will Tell. Reaction to Pope’s Comments.

pope-quoteOn his way back to the Vatican from World Youth Day in Brazil, Pope Francis opened a conversation about the Catholic Church’s stand on homosexuals.

Differentiating between sexual orientation and sexual behavior, the pope commented, “You can’t marginalize these people.” In many ways, Pope Francis has approached his papacy from a social justice position, shunning material wealth and advocating for the outcast, the poor and suffering.

The Montrose Center’s Clinical Director, Christopher Kerr, MEd, LPC, says it’s a positive advancement for the church and an extension of his calling toward, “treating people with dignity, respect and free from discrimination.”

The pontiff asked rhetorically, “Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?”

Kerr says, “We encounter people here at the Montrose Center who are deeply spiritual and have strong religious beliefs, and many of them carry the wounds of not being able to belong to the church they want or attend a denomination that they were raised in. They are searching for a community of faith to accept them and allow them to be who they are and to love whom they love.”

Members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities want to be respected and treated fairly, just like everyone else. “Being of good will is about how you behave and how you treat others, and not your sexual orientation or gender identity,” says Kerr.

Executive Director Ann J. Robison, PhD, draws an analogy to when Ronald Reagan finally said the word “AIDS” in 1987, six years after it emerged as a health crisis and claiming tens of thousands of American lives. “It’s a little thing, a little step, but it can help make changes. Pope Francis’s compassion toward the LGBT community may help laity and clergy all around the world to take another look and be a little more open, or at least be able to feel that they can be more open.”

We hope that the pope’s comments will result in a more hospitable and conciliatory position. Dr. Robison adds, “I think it’s a big step forward in saying the words. We’ll see what happens in practice and whether or not the church becomes more welcoming to the LGBT communities.”

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