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Gay Catholics size up new pope

In this phomade available by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano Pope Francis delivers his speech as he meets Cardinals for first

In this photo made available by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis delivers his speech as he meets the Cardinals for the first time after his election, at the Vatican, Friday, March 15, 2013. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho) ORG XMIT: OSS105

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Updated: April 18, 2013 6:29AM



Before he became pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote something that became church doctrine: “Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.”

In 2013, Cardinal Francis George said in a letter to parishioners that it was “physically impossible” for two people of the same sex to “consummate a marital union,” but “families and the church still love those . . . who are same-sex oriented.”

And this year, the Chicago archdiocese will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its Gay and Lesbian Outreach, which involves a mass every Sunday followed by a social at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.

So it’s not surprising that many gay Catholics feel the church is sending out mixed messages on homosexuality.

“All the Near North and some parishes on the South Side are welcoming to LGBT Catholics, that’s happening from the pew up,” said Joe Murray, executive director of the Rainbow Sash Movement, a group working for a formal acceptance of gays into the Catholic Church.

“But if you ask church leaders point-blank whether they support the church teaching on the homosexual person, they would have to say yes,” Murray said. “So it’s a wink-and-nod situation but it’s movement nonetheless and it’s a positive sign that speaks volumes for the Catholics in those parishes.”

Indeed, on the issue of same-sex marriage, Catholics are more liberal than the population as a whole. Some 54 percent of Catholic voters favor same-sex marriage vs. 48 percent of all voters, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll.

And Murray hopes that a new pope, with his attitude of humility and identification with the underdog, could make a difference.

“Anytime a person genuinely focuses on the poor, it will affect us. He’s not going to change the doctrine of the church, but I think there’s going to be a change in tone and how he applies that doctrine.”

Chris Pett, president of Dignity Chicago, another gay Catholic group, was a little less optimistic. While Pett applauds Pope Francis’ humility and commitment to social justice, “There’s this huge disconnect that because of his sense of commitment to orthodoxy he cannot see beyond the contradiction that, is it also an injustice to tell gay people that they’re immoral and disordered?”

Yet, Pett believes that Francis’ elevation to the papacy may open his mind to new things. “His life is transformed instantly. That always offers the opportunity to step back and to learn.”

And “No matter what’s going on in the church, we will continue to be in the church, we will continue to be a community of faith,” Pett said.

“No matter who’s the pope.”



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