In his first major work released since being named the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis attacked free market capitalism as “the new tyranny,” and named superficiality and consumerism as the major threats to social bonds such as marriage, leaving out any mention of the “LGBT threat.”
“Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric,” writes Pope Francis in his “Envangelii Guadium” (Joy of the Gospel), available online here.
He states that the growing inequality between the rich and the poor, on a global scale, leads to violence borne out of the frustration at the inability to satisfy basic needs, a violence which cannot be resolved by “simply…. blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles.”
The pope names the modern culture’s emphasis on individual consumption and personal gain as the biggest threat to personal relationships and family bonds, making a completely different argument than the one made by many religious politically conservative groups, which blame the rise of same-sex unions for the weakening of the institution of marriage.
The pope expresses support for the Christian ideal of mutual respect for all, and supports organizations that defend human rights as an expression of that intent.
“Christians remain steadfast in our intention to respect others, to heal wounds, to build bridges, to strengthen relationships and to “bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2).
“Various associations for the defence of rights and the pursuit of noble goals are being founded. This is a sign of the desire of many people to contribute to social and cultural progress,” he continues.
What noble goals and rights the Pope is referring to go unnamed; though, from previous sentiments the Pope has expressed in favor of respecting the LGBT community, it could be a reference to the fight for same-sex unions as a “noble goal,” and as a contribution to social progress worldwide.
Finally, the Pope calls for openness in the Church to all people seeking communion with the Spirit.
“The Church is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open. One concrete sign of such openness is that our church doors should always be open, so that if someone, moved by the Spirit, comes there looking for God, he or she will not find a closed door. There are other doors that should not be closed either.”
While outright support for LGBT issues is not expressed in the document, the move away from blaming the queer community for social ills, instead focusing on the oppressive power of unfettered capitalism and its malignant effect on interpersonal relationships, is a strong statement of changing values and direction for the Catholic Church.
Some have hope that this new direction signals hope for the inclusion of the LGBT community in the Catholic congregation in the future.
“While sexuality is not discussed in this new document, there are many topics in it that can pave the way for the church hierarchy to renew itself in regard to these concerns,” the executive director of New Ways Ministry, Francis DeBernardo, said in a blog post.
A focused listing of all excerpts that pertain to LGBT issues can be found on the New Ways Ministry blog here.