September 24, 2015 at 12:24 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Pope: ‘Basis of marriage’ being called into question
Pope Francis, gay news, Washington Blade

Pope Francis addresses a joint session of Congress. (Image courtesy of C-SPAN)

One day after promoting the idea of a “tolerant and inclusive” society, Pope Francis I hinted at the Catholic Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage, saying “the very basis of marriage” is being called into question.

The pope expressed his concern over the state of marriage during his speech on Thursday before a joint session of Congress and months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide.

“I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without,” Francis said. “Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.”

Francis never explicitly condemned same-sex relationships in his remarks, but that viewpoint would be consistent with the Catholic Church’s opposition to marriage equality. Even though Francis has taken a more moderate tone on LGBT rights, he has called same-sex marriage a “destructive pretension against the plan of God.”

Francis’ comments on marriage were but one part of a speech in which he generally promoted inclusion and helping the marginalized, invoking the Golden Rule that calls for individuals to treat others as they wish to be treated.

“Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves,” Francis said. “In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.”

Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, said the Pope should apply this same logic of the Golden Rule to same-sex marriage and reproductive rights.

“We welcome Pope Francis’ advocacy for the ‘Golden Rule,’ which calls on everyone to ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you,'” Carey said. “But this doesn’t seem to apply to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people and our families. Nor does it apply to the millions who need vital access to reproductive health services. We urge Pope Francis to use his position of immense power to create a truly welcoming and affirming church for all LGBTQ people — and to treat our families with dignity and equal respect.”

In other portions of his speech, Francis called for action on climate change, income inequality as well as compassion for immigrants and aid for the refugee crisis in Europe. Francis received significant applause from the pro-life majority in Congress when he issued a call to “protect and defend human life at every stage of its development,” but less applause when he took that logic to call for global abolition of the death penalty.

Francis spoke against fundamentalism “whether religious or of any other kind” in the context of violent extremism throughout the world.

“But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners,” Francis said. “The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps. We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject.”

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, said he thought Francis’ words on marriage were positive because the importance of family he stressed is the basis of same-sex marriage.

“I think the Pope’s declining to criticize gay couples seeking the freedom to marry and aiming to take part in and celebrate our own family life, and his pointed refusal to use right-wing buzzwords such as ‘one man-one woman’ is what really speaks volumes here,” Wolfson said. “The ‘very basis of marriage and the family’ Pope Francis speaks of is love — and it is time for our opponents to stop threatening and fighting against the love we all, gay and non-gay, aspire to and deserve.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • Emily Dotson

    We’re not asking to change the definition of marriage. We’re asking to expand it. Open your eyes to all of your parishioners.

    • sJames6621

      lets remember he’s probably going bonkers – in may of this year the most catholic nation in the world voted (62%) to change the constitution so gays can marry

      btw the most hatefull anti gay group -frc was founded by closet case biatgch george rekers

      http://tinyurl.com/qe2xyux

  • bayhuntr

    Allowing gays the same rights to marriage, strengthens the extended family, it doesn’t weaken it. Just talk to nieces and nephew’s about their uncles, they are not just their uncle and his friend, they are family. That recognition strengthens everything.

    • Willy Healer

      Bull crap. Homosexuals don’t make families they throw them into chaos. If you like being a homosexual, fine. Just don’t try to come off that it is Okay.

      • bayhuntr

        I know it’s you culture, but your lies get boring. There is no “chaos” in my family, you are a liar. Now, if you’re talking about the few evangelical creeps that the rest of the family avoid now, because they’re tired of hearing all of their hate and lies, yes, their lives are in chaos, and should be with all the hate that is oozing from them, but that is by their own doing.

        LOL I love this “If you like being a homosexual…” …If you like being a Jewish …If you like being left handed …If you like being Asin blah blah blah, how close to 50 is your IQ?

        I don’t try to come off as anything, I am just fine, I’m even fine with freaks like you, as long as I’m in America where the constitution keeps you sticky hands out of my life, as well as my extended family lives.

        Now take all your oozing and lying, and go party with your kind.

        • DocWilly

          Just keep pushing on that closet door you will finally make it out. Why are you all angry with me, you made the choice. I will be more than happy to let god sort out your choices.

          • bayhuntr

            No anger, just stating the obvious. BTW… Which god are you pushing? There are so many, it’s hard to keep track. I’m especial amused by people that think a god is hanging around to be their enforcers. Like a loan shark and his leg breakers. “My god will show you I’m right” LOL. It’s amazing how many liars and hypocrites have a god doing their bidding.

            And of course, I find it entertaining to troll bad people.

          • Willy Healer

            preparation h will not help your love life. You really must find and follow Jesus.

          • bayhuntr

            Preparation H? You think about butt holes more than gays do, especially gay women.
            You’re a bad person, I’m not following anything you do.

          • Willy Healer

            I would not follow anything I do either. My dogs don’t think I am a bad person, Easy to scam but not bad.

  • TheBelltower

    This is disappointing coming from a Pope who I thought was attempting to change the climate within the Catholic church. His statements will not be helpful. They won’t diffuse the radical fundamentalist religious twats that we see on Fox news. Clearly, with a 55% divorce rate among straight couples, the preponderance of single mothers, fatherless children, childless couples… gay men and women who want to get married are hardly a threat to his definition of marriage. The worst thing that gay marriage will achieve is what?… To increase real estate values?

  • S. Gander

    It sounds as though the Pope is advocating for one acceptable kind of marriage only, between man & woman, and one kind of acceptable family – male/female with natural offspring. As he says, “there is richness and beauty of family life”, but can he not appreciate the fullness of love between same sex partners and the richness and beauty of their families as well?

    • sJames6621

      what can he know about marriage for real – he’s a bachelor as are his sex starved priests, many of whom, in this unnatural state raped children

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