Pope Francis has gone on record with national media sharing his support for same-sex unions and while Archdiocese of Agana Archbishop Michael Byrnes says the Pope’s statements carry little ecclesiastical weight, the statements have brought joy to the LBGTQ community.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis was reported by national media yesterday to have said: “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God. You can’t kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.”
The statements were made as part of the new documentary, Francesco, which debuted on Wednesday at the Roman Film Festival.
Archbishop Michael Byrnes in response points out that the Pope’s comments are from the documentary and not a papal pronouncement. He says the Pope’s statements have little ecclesiastic weight and the Catholic Church has not changed its stance on marital unions being that of a man and a woman.
Although Pope Francis’ statements may have caused confusion in the Catholic community, the LBGTQ community is happy the Pope is spreading love.
Radio personality and member of the LBGTQ community Deshandra Washington, also known as “Shimmy,” says it’s a bold statement coming from the Pope which shines a different light on religion.
“It shows he’s practicing what he preaches and although you may not agree with someone, you may not condone their behavior, but you have to love them,” Shimmy said.
She added: “So I respect his statement a hundred percent. It kind of takes away a weight off our shoulders, you know, we won’t be judged when we walk past him, you know what I mean. We’ll be like it’s okay for me to be me if I want to talk to the Pope.”
She added that the Pope’s statement created a judgment-free zone and she thanks the Pope for being tolerant and inclusive. Recognizing that tradition plays a big part in the perception of those in same-sex unions, she also respects Archbishop Byrnes for standing his ground, stating that sometimes in religion you have to tiptoe.
Shimmy is the daughter of a Christian minister and believes there will always be some type of controversy with the LGBTQ community when it comes to religion. But she also believes the Pope’s statements welcome more people into the house of God. Shimmy recalled that when she first came out, she was hesitant to go to church.
“They’re going to be like, oh, you know Shimmy you like women so you’re going against the teaching of the Bible, you’re going against the teaching of your father and your father’s a minster so I think hearing those words from the Pope, you’re going to get a lot more people secure with walking into the House of God,” she said.
Archbishop Michael Byrnes will address the issue further with the Catholic Community through a pastoral letter.