Nothing in the world can last forever — and that includes our love affair with the Pope. In a new book released in January, Pope Francis compared transgender people to nuclear weapons, claiming that it was unnatural for men and women to "shun" their natural gender and likening it to a new sin in the eyes of God. And while it's not the only slight by papal leadership against the LGBTQ community in recent days, it certainly stings.
The segment began benignly enough, with Francis urging followers to protect the environment, but turned sour quickly when Francis cited multiple "Herods" throughout Biblical history, who he claimed had attempted to "destroy creation", including the natural "face" of man and woman:
Let's think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings. Let's think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation.
With this attitude, man commits a new sin, that against God the Creator. The true custody of creation does not have anything to do with the ideologies that consider man like an accident, like a problem to eliminate.
Francis also indicated that the transgender community violates the trust placed on mankind, destroying the sanctity of creation for future generations.
Until recently, Francis had been slowly winning popularity with many outside of the Catholic Church for his seemingly progressive stances on a smattering of current social issues (something his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI had trouble with, due to a slew of alleged scandals involving the cover-up of various child sex-abuse charges). In an interview with Argentinian publication La Nacion back in December, Francis discussed his counsel to Church leaders and families of gay and lesbian children to be supportive, despite their "unusual situation":
What we did talk about was of how a family with a homosexual child, whether a son or a daughter, goes about educating that child, how the family bears up, how to help that family to deal with that somewhat unusual situation. ... We come across this reality all the time in the confessional: a father and a mother whose son or daughter is in that situation. This happened to me several times in Buenos Aires. ... We have to find a way to help that father or that mother to stand by their son or daughter.
While critics pointed out that the move meant little if the Church refused to revamp its stance on gay marriage, many saw the gesture as an olive branch meant to repair distrust between papal leadership and the rest of the world. Only a few months earlier, in July 2014, Francis had also attempted to undo the damage left by previous leaders by meeting with six child sex-abuse victims to offer a personal, heartfelt apology for their suffering, and set up a 16-member committee to oversee child protection in the Church.
Previous to his latest statements, Francis had also gained favor with the LGBTQ community for his plea with church leaders to create a "fraternal space" for them within the religious community, issuing a statement to church bishops to teach that gay and lesbian members have tremendous "gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community".
The latest assertion by the admired leader has certainly set the public back on its heels again, leading many to question the authenticity of his previous declarations.
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