In the Philippines, many prominent Catholic LGBT activists have embraced the appointment of Pope Francis.
Over 80 percent of the population in the Philippines supports the Catholic Church, leading to legislation greatly influenced by that religious affiliation. LGBT communities in the Philippines often find their identity at odds over their orientation and their religious upbringing.
“¨429Magazine sat down with Raymond Alikpala from the Ladlad Party, the world’s only LGBT political party, for a follow up interview.
Raymond is the Ladlad Party’s spokesman for conversations concerning religion and sexual identity.
“¨”¨429Magazine: What are your thoughts on the election of Pope Francis?
Raymond Alikpala: Probably like most Filipino Catholics, I was teary eyed to see a new Pope at the Vatican balcony. And the fact that he is an Argentinian Jesuit was amazing and I felt a strong kinship and affinity to him immediately.
429Magazine: Is it important to you that the new pope comes from a Jesuit order?
Alikpala: Having been a Jesuit novice myself briefly, I have tremendous respect for the Society of Jesus and its priests. Thus I feel this strong affinity for Pope Francis, and the early reports of his actions as Pope (paying for his hotel room and staying in the taking cabs instead of limos) and his early messages of simplicity and mercy are consistent with the Jesuit spirituality I know, giving me so much more hope about the future of the Catholic Church that Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) was never able to inspire.
429Magazine: Are you concerned about the history that Pope Francis has in relation to the LGBT community?”¨
“¨Alikpala: While his previous statements, critical of gay marriage and gay adoption, are unfortunate, and there are other question marks about his past, I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now and focus on his humility, simplicity, deep spirituality and pastoral experience and join the rest of the Christian world in hoping for real meaningful change that the Catholic Church needs today.
429Magazine: Are you surprised at the backlash that this appointment has had in the LGBT community worldwide?
“¨”¨Alikpala: I am not surprised at the skepticism of the LGBT organizations, considering Pope Francis’s past statements (as Cardinal Bergoglio), but as I had said, I am giving him the benefit of the doubt for now. I know that the Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways, and I have no doubt that his papacy will be infused with the Holy Spirit, and perhaps the spirit of compassion and acceptance will introduce a different approach to this issue, not the hateful, intolerant tone that Ratzinger employed.
Pope Francis was elected as the new pope last Wednesday in what has been a historic month for the Vatican. Pope Francis is the first Jesuit and the first non-European pontiff in church history.
Pope Francis broke with tradition and walked amongst the crowd in St. Peter’s Square, shaking hands with flabbergasted bystanders in a crowd of 30,000, before addressing them officially from his window. Moreover he chose Francis for his Papal name, in honor of Francis of Assisi, also a first.
“¨”¨Pope Francis, who as the former archbishop of Buenos Aires opposed the promotion of free contraceptives and gay marriage, is still held in high regard for his compassion for the poor and the disenfranchised. Many LGBT communities throughout the world are looking towards Rome with ambivalence and hoping that in time the Vatican will become a vehicle for change instead of a source of opposition.”¨