A leading lifestyle magazine that promotes gay rights and same-sex marriage has named Pope Francis its “Person of the Year.”
The December issue of The Advocate features Pope Francis with a “NO H8″ message photoshopped on his right cheek. Next to his photo is a quote from the pope’s interview with reporters in July, while en route from Brazil to Rome.
“If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?” the pontiff told reporters.
Pope Francis, who opposes same-sex marriage and vehemently fought its passage while he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, was chosen as The Advocate‘s “Person of the Year” over Edie Windsor, of U.S. v. Windsor, the Supreme Court’s DOMA case, whom the magazine refers to as “a hero to LGBT Americans for taking the final punch in the fight against the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act…”
Regarding its choice of Pope Francis, The Advocate states:
Pope Francis is leader of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics all over the world. There are three times as many Catholics in the world than there are citizens in the United States. Like it or not, what he says makes a difference. Sure, we all know Catholics who fudge on the religion’s rules about morality. There’s a lot of disagreement, about the role of women, about contraception, and more. But none of that should lead us to underestimate any pope’s capacity for persuading hearts and minds in opening to LGBT people, and not only in the U.S. but globally…
Francis’s view on how the Catholic Church should approach LGBT people was best explained in his own words during an in-depth interview with America magazine in September. He recalled, “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? We must always consider the person.”
In this statement, however, as some bishops have explained, Pope Francis was simply reinforcing what has always been the teaching of the Church: that all persons are to be treated with dignity and respect.
The Advocate, nevertheless, attempts to contrast Pope Francis sharply with his predecessors, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI–who, the publication says, “commanded the influence of the Vatican – until this year.”
John Paul II, The Advocate says, joined then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in declaring homosexuality as “intrinsically evil.”
Ironically, however, the magazine refers to Pope Francis’ words as a “stark change in rhetoric,” though the future pope wrote in 2010 when the debate about same-sex marriage was at its peak in Argentina, “Let’s not be naïve: This is not a simple political struggle, but an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is not just a bill but a move of the Father of Lies, who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, recently emphasized that Pope Francis’ words about homosexuality simply underscore the call for Christians to treat all persons with dignity. At the same time, Francis has joined with John Paul II, whom he will be canonizing next year, and Benedict XVI “to clearly promote and defend marriage and family, recognizing that this is in everyone’s best interest as members of a common society.”
Cordileone said that while “Pope Francis has forcefully reminded us that we are to show love and respect to all people and to seek their greatest good,” it is also “disgraceful that some legislators would manipulate the words of Pope Francis to suggest that he would support marriage redefinition.”
The archbishop said the redefinition of marriage is a “serious injustice” and that marriage between one man and one woman exists to protect “authentic rights, especially the right of children to have a married mother and father.”
The Advocate, nevertheless, in honoring Pope Francis, states, “…LGBT Catholics who remain in the church now have more reason to hope that change is coming.”