Last week, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, wrote he was “a little bit disappointed” that Francis hadn’t addressed abortion since being elected. Pope Francis acknowledged that he had been “reprimanded,” but responded:
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible,” he said. “The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”
To me, the more important statement made occurred several months ago.
“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?”
Having been personally condemned by the Catholic Church, I concur with Pope Francis that the church’s pastoral ministry cannot be insistently obsessed with a disjointed multitude of doctrines. The church must find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to crumble, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The Catholic church should be thinking we are the home of all, not just small group of selected people.
Someone recently queried my thoughts of homosexuality and abortion. To dodge the question, I carefully stated neither is a true, ‘black or white,’ ‘yes or no’ answer. But in truth, I genuinely sail my ship to a more holistic path. So when I look at someone who may have had an abortion or someone who believes that gay and lesbian couples should have similar rights, I often think of John 8:7, “…let he who is sinless cast the first stone.”
Like Jesus, I won’t condemn a woman or homosexual relationship. It’s not because I am some free thinking whacked out liberal nor is it because I condone either. The real truth of what I see is that the men and women who make such black or white arguments are hypocrites. And hypocrites use the Bible to drive home hatred, bias and ignorance. As such, Americas’ churches are filled with such hatred. We believe more in hatred and guns than love and integrity. Don’t believe me? Then research Scott Lively, the Westboro Baptist Church or Terry Jones, who was recently arrested with thousands of kerosene-soaked copies of the Muslim holy book in his possession.
The most important goal for Buddhism is to awaken, to realize one’s true nature, putting an end to suffering. Pope Francis has thrown an olive branch of sorts by making it abundantly clear that we need all members of society. Not because there is some magic in numbers or the loss of time and dignity spent fighting personally partisan issues. But more so because all of us are interconnected. We always have been and always will.