If you woke up this morning to the news of Pope Francis saying that same-sex couples should be covered by civil union laws, this is your reminder that you were not dreaming.
With the Catholic church known for its staunch conservative beliefs, news of Pope Francis supporting the union of same-sex couples came as a pleasant shock for many, though some remained skeptical. Sure, his statement might not have been as progressive as it may have been hyped up to be, but it’s still progressive enough for the Catholic church. And this wasn’t the first time the pope said something that seemed at odds with the church’s conservatism. Since his time in 2013, he has said numerous progressive statements that have shaken the Catholic church. Here are some you might have missed.
His current vocal support to gay people
In 2013, Pope Francis caused a stir when he said, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge?” This was a pro-LGBT statement that, while admittedly tepid, was leaps and bounds ahead of the popes before him. He followed this up in 2016 when he condemned homophobia and discrimination against queer people, saying in an in-flight conference in 2016, “[Gay people] should not be discriminated against. They should be respected, accompanied pastorally.”
Of course, there’s also the statement he made that’s been making waves recently in which he apparently endorsed same-sex civil unions. In the documentary “Francesco,” he says, “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.” He continued by stressing that queer people deserve to be in a family like anyone else, “Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it.”
He denounces the gender pay gap between men and women
The gender pay gap, aka the unequal salaries that women and men receive, continues to be a real thing that women around the world have to struggle with. The pope himself called it out in 2015 in an address about the “radical equality of men and women.”
“Why should it be taken for granted that women must earn less than men? The disparity is pure scandal,” he said. I would like this tattooed on my forehead.
Hearing that from any other authority figure is great, but the fact that’s coming from the leader of a global institution largely run by male leaders that’s historically shut out women is something else. (In the same address, he also said that blaming women’s movement for declining birth rates is a form of male chauvinism, which, yes.) What would’ve made this better, though, is if he followed it by supporting women to join the priesthood.
He’s building towards a more inclusive church
Within his time as pope, he has attempted to reshape the College of Cardinals (the members ranking directly after the pope) by “making it less white, less Italian and less representative of the Roman curia, the bureaucracy that governs the church.” He’s done this by looking for cardinals from different churches around the world, specifically those from Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Currently, some of the new members of the college are prelates from Morocco, Indonesia, Guatemala, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. As well as appointing Filipino Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle as the head of one of the Vatican’s top congregations.
His passionate fight to curtail climate change
Since the beginning of his time as pope to the Catholic church, Pope Francis has expressed on several occasions his passion to combat climate change. In fact, his first papal encyclical of 180 pages entitled “Laudato Si”was focused on “integral ecology,” the bond between humans and nature. Ever since then, he has been very vocal about acting for a better Earth now, appearing on talks like the recent “Countdown” event by TEDx on climate change just this month.
His stance against capitalism
Amidst the COVID 19 pandemic, Pope Francis has been sharing his strong views against capitalism in his recent encyclical “Fratelli Tutti” that tackled on how capitalism is failing humanity in this pandemic. He noted, “There is little appreciation of the fact that the alleged ‘spillover’ does not resolve the inequality that gives rise to new forms of violence threatening the fabric of society.” This isn’t the first time he’s spoken out against capitalism. As early as the late 90s, the then-archbishop criticized capitalism, and in 2015 he called unbridled capitalism “the dung of the devil.”
While these steps towards a more progressive and inclusive Catholic church is great, there’s still a lot of work to be done, both from the pope himself and his community. We’ve only just begun and we hope it’ll be an uphill climb from here.