Pope Francis released a much-anticipated document on family Friday and cleverly called it “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love). When I briefly skimmed over a summary of it, I was incredibly happy with what was said. According to the BBC, the document said that “every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration.” As I read on, that happiness felt misplaced.
Even though Francis said every person needs to be treated with consideration, he discredited homosexual marriage almost immediately. According to the BBC, Francis wrote that “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”
How does this treat every person with dignity?
According to Slate, Francis justifies this because “according to the order of creation, conjugal love between a man and a woman, and the transmission of life are ordered to each other.” Some may see this as a valid reason, but seeing it as a valid reason in 2016 is hard to believe.
The document may be inconclusive in many areas, but the way he deals with violence toward women, sex education and divorce shows a shift toward assimilating with the times. In a hasty moment, I may argue that there has been no gradual shift in the view of homosexuality. However, that would be premature.
Claiming this would be ignoring Francis’ words on equal dignity. Despite the hesitation I felt after finding out that his views on gay marriage have not changed, I am still happy. A pope would not have been able to utter the words about equal dignity a few years ago. To our ideal, revolutionary and egalitarian minds, those words seem feeble and of no impact. I understand why, and in some global sense, I agree. For the platform of the Roman Catholic Church, however, those words mean a lot.
Those words mean equal recognition. They mean no admonition. It’s not enough, but it’s a start. The religious world will always be slower and hesitant to change, but Francis’ words mean that the church is recognizing change. The church is recognizing the world outside its own. Although it may seem minuscule, it is movement.
It still angers me that for the Roman Catholic Church, the union of two people relies heavily on biology that can be quickly discredited. With how much Francis focuses on love in his document, it astounds me that love is emphasized to solely be between a man and woman.
It is comforting to know that I am not the only person angered by this. It is the voices that spoke up about injustices that led to the acknowledgment of homosexuality in this document. Hopefully, voices will continue to speak up and fight for the acknowledgment of all marriages.