Catholic priests’ body insists Pope’s views on same sex union misinterpreted
In the wake of reports of Pope Francis endorsing same sex relations and civil union, the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) has issued a statement saying there is no change in the stance of the church on family life or same sex love.
KCBC, a powerful body of the Catholics, claimed the Pope’s interview in the documentary was misinterpreted and his position-- that the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community should be dealt with humanely and brought into the mainstream-- is not new.
After the details of the documentary directed by Evgeny Afineevsky, a Russian-born American producer, came out, the LGBT community members have taken out processions in various parts of the state lauding the position of the Pope.
But the KCBC said exhorting people to show compassion and love towards the LGBT community doesn’t mean the Pope has approved same sex marriage.
“The church doesn’t announce its doctrine on marriages and family life through documentaries. He had earlier also said that people in LGBT community deserve more care, consideration and love. The church is of the view that homosexual tendencies and homosexual action should be viewed separately,” said the statement issued by KCBC spokesman Father Jacob G Palackappilly.
He said reports that Pope had sought equality under law for same-sex marriage and relations were wrongly interpreted. He said the church still gives emphasis on familial life involving opposite sex. “There is no change in our stance. The church doesn’t see the living together of same-sex lovers as marriages. But this has been recognised by some countries as a civil union. The church is considering adding those in such relations to the flock. This was announced earlier also,” he said.
Reformers in the church said KCBC has enough reasons to worry over the Pope’s reported observations. Believers’ numbers are dwindling badly in the state, forcing the church to announce rewards for parents who give birth to more children (procreate more and win rewards campaign) a couple of years ago. In many dioceses, education is free for children of big families. According to the last census, Christians form 18.38% of the 3.48 crore state population. Earlier the Christian population was more than 20% and experts said it will come down to 15% by 2030, going by migration tendencies and smaller family norms of believers.
But LGBT community members said they strongly feel Pope has endorsed same sex relations. “Pope is known for taking revolutionary steps. We believe in what he said. Of course, priests will have problems acknowledging it,” said LGBT activist Ranjini.
Kerala is the first state to introduce a separate policy for third sex and LGBT community and set up a welfare justice board to address their grievances. Despite these steps, members of the community said their woes were far from over and they still struggle to get acceptance in society.