How Pope Francis Is Proving Religion Is More Flexible Than You Think

Above: Pope Francis

Religion is often used as a means of proving what is right and wrong. Homosexuality is one thing that has been supposedly condemned by the Bible, and God, for a long time. Christians, in particular, use their religion as a justification for discriminating against all LGBT people, because they believe they cannot maintain their faith while also accepting anyone they think the Bible does not consider “normal”. Although society as a whole has made advancements for the rights of the LGBT community, there is still a long way to go.

Christians all over the world look to the Pope for guidance, support, and an example of how to be the best Christian they can be. The current Pope, Pope Francis, was elected in March 2013, and he is the first ever Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas (he is from Argentina), and the first Non-European pope in over 1000 years. Needless to say, Pope Francis achieved a lot just by being elected in the first place. Over the last 2 years, he has made headlines for his willingness to address political issues, and his sometimes wavering stance on formerly ironclad Church ideology.

Although Pope Francis is still officially opposed to homosexuality in practice, he has said many times that he doesn’t believe gay people should be discriminated against. He emphasizes that the Church itself requires that everyone is treated with dignity and respect. There have been reports, which have neither been confirmed nor denied by the Vatican, that Pope Francis recently met with a transgender man who wrote to him asking for guidance. The man, Diego Neria Lejarraga, was struggling with the Church’s rejection of his decision to transition and hoped Pope Francis would be able to help him. According to reports, the Pope met with Lejarraga face to face, heard his story, and embraced him without judgement.

Pope Francis, who has been called the “cool pope”, has chosen not to live in the traditional papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace that his predecessors have occupied, and he travels around the city in a Ford Focus instead of the standard chauffeured Mercedes limo. He spends significant amounts of time greeting the public, and often makes jokes, including ones poking fun of himself. Right after he was elected he joked, “May God forgive you for what you have done.”

The most shared Pope Francis quote is from a press conference last year where he responded “Who am I to judge?” when asked about the issue of homosexuality. This sentiment sums up his attitude on a lot of issues. While he still thinks certain acts are evil (abortion for example), he does not, and will not, judge people who commit these acts. He also believes in equality, and has done a lot of work to help the poor. These are some of the things that have led American politicians to call his message “pure Marxism” (Rush Limbaugh), and “kind of liberal” (Sarah Palin). He has been accused of being too political in his motives, but he has also been the kind of pope that accepts that the world is changing.

The leader of the Christian community has a duty to teach people about the Bible, and offer words of wisdom. Pope Francis has proven that he is committed to helping everyone, and not picking and choosing who deserves his help based on past ideas about what is right and wrong. Acceptance should be a basic human right, and the pope is one of the perfect people to convey that message through his own actions.

He may not be sitting down trying to rewrite the Bible, but he is using his influence to give the world hope that ideas can change, and they should change. If God gave us the ability to evolve, then we should embrace it. Religion should be about faith, acceptance, and community, not exclusion and pointing out everything that is wrong with the world.

Some have suggested that the Church and State should remain separate. Pope Francis opposes gay marriage, but he has suggested alternatives, and is willing to compromise. It is difficult to do a complete 180 overnight, but by being open to the experiences of everyone, Pope Francis is showing the world that just because you are Christian and you have believed one thing for a long time, does not mean you can’t change. All you need is time, acceptance, and a little faith.

Tags: LGBT

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