The Pope Says Nope to Marriage Equality

It’s been one hell of a week.

First, the good news. Vaccine distribution is going great! Hooray! Go get stabbed when it’s your turn! I can’t wait! So many exclamation marks!!!

Then the bad news. More state Republicans are pushing forward with anti-trans athlete bills and anti-voting rights bills. Republicans are counting on Americans to find transgender people far more threatening than the in-broad-daylight racism and anti-Democracy bullshit Republicans are all about. And, sadly, in some cases its working.

And then there’s the Catholic Church. On March 15 the church declared that they were not stans of same-sex marriages — the day after PI day! Like, can we not have some time for celebration? According to USA Today, “The two-page statement published in seven languages was approved by Pope Francis.”

Yeah, that Pope Francis. The guy who was declared as a kinder, gentler pope and even a friend to the gays. In 2019 he said, “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God. What we have to have is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.”

But it seems like the church thought that it was a good time to clarify that whole “civil union” thing by making clear that the “civil” part was as far as it went. The Church itself wasn’t going to bless these sinners, but it was OK if they had rights under the law.

“The blessing of homosexual unions cannot be considered licit,” the Catholic Church’s statement says. “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.”

Gosh, thanks for that! I’m not a Catholic. I don’t even believe in God. But I also know that the Pope has a lot of social significance because it matters to a lot of people, even people who are not Catholic, what he says.

But don’t worry. The statement clarifies that this is not “intended to be a form of unjust discrimination.”

Oh, thank goodness. The declaration by one of the most powerful religious institutions in the world doesn’t INTEND for their declaration that same-sex marriages are sinful to result in unjust discrimination. So, any resulting discrimination must be just. Cool.

The statement continues, “The Church does not have, and cannot have, the power to bless unions of persons of the same sex.”

Interesting that the Catholic Church is declaring that, gosh darn it, they just don’t have the power to do this thing they don’t want to do. As if everything the Church DOES have the power to do isn’t power that it just, like, decided to take for itself.

And this kind of seems to have come out of nowhere? I mean, it’s been over five years since the Supreme Court’s pro-marriage decision allowed same-sex couples to get married.

My guess is that this announcement is a response to a shift in the political climate in the U.S. When Trump was “in charge” — as if he ever did his job well or at all — there was no need to scream from the rooftops about issues like marriage equality because the Trump Administration was hard at work chipping away those rights and denigrating LGBTQ+ people.

President Biden, however, is open about his acceptance of LGBTQ+ people and marriage equality. And he’s a Catholic.

Last year, Crisis Magazine, which dubs itself “A Voice for the Faithful Catholic Laity,” proclaimed that “Biden spent a good chunk of the last century promoting such anti-Catholic policies as systematic infanticide, government-sanctioned sodomy and high taxes.”

In other words, Biden supports reproductive freedom, marriage equality, and, uh, the price we all pay to live in a civilized society?

The Crisis article claims that Biden is “a squish who prioritizes the temporal and sentimental over the eternal and the sacred. Sooner or later, we’ll have to reckon with that fact.”

Perhaps this new anti-marriage equality declaration is part of that reckoning?

Very curious, though, how and if the Church is reckoning with the fact that members of their flock voted for Donald Trump? A man who literally couldn’t name a single Bible verse during an interview in which he professed to be a big fan of the book? A man who was accused of sexual harassment, assault and rape by many women? A man whose open racism inspired white supremacist rallies and riots? A man who divorced multiple times? A man who literally worshipped himself? A man who ignored the death and suffering of hundreds of thousands of people during his last year in office?

If any Catholic voted for that one, let alone twice, it really begs the question of that whole prioritizing the eternal and the sacred thing. Certainly a lot more than wanting to bless two people saying, “I do.”

D'Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living life with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter.