OUT FRONT: Catholic Church has a gay problem

Divorce and birth control are both prohibited by the Catholic Church, but during my 12-year tenure as a Catholic school student, these issues were pretty much “don’t ask, don’t tell,” so long as the pews (and the collection basket) were full every Sunday.

Conversely, today’s Vatican — not to mention Philly’s own Archdiocese — has been almost maniacal in its denouncement of homosexuality, even as more Catholics publicly support issues like same-sex marriage.

Of course, being in step with basic human rights has never been the church’s strong point; women are still treated as second-class citizens and unable to hold the same positions as men. But the recent efforts to exorcize gay people from the flock has sparked considerable criticism.

It might explain why a new report offers uncharacteristically kind, yet cautious, words about gays, basically asking whether the Vatican should accept LGBT people, saying they have “gifts and qualities to offer,” despite long-held beliefs to the contrary.

This newest Band-aid, likely inspired by Pope Francis’ more “gay-friendly” pastoral approach, may offer a kinder, gentler tone when it comes to the big pink elephant in the room, but like much of what’s coming out of the Vatican these days – it amounts to mostly great PR with very little substance behind it.

In fact, a day after making the statement about, well, “maybe” accepting gay people (sort of), the Vatican backtracked – and fast – cautioning that this is merely a “working” theory. In fact, the statement was retracted in all English versions of the report. So rest assured, conservative Catholics, the Pope says it’s still okay to hate gay people.

In reality, behind these smoke and mirrors is an ongoing and very un-Christian-like witch-hunt against gay priests and the liberal nuns who serve the LGBT community. The church supports leaders who put gay people in danger every single day around the world. So other than maybe freshening up its image after being mired in unthinkable sexual abuse scandals in recent years, one may want to take these latest “efforts” with, well, a grain (or pillar) of salt.

Will the church ever get around to accepting gay people? Possibly. But don’t expect any real change to come as long as the Vatican – and men like Chaput – operate as the oldest, most secretive boy’s club in the world. And seeing as how women are still considered “unfit” for priesthood, I’m not holding my breath.

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