Even the Pope Has Progressive Views on Same-Sex Unions. What About India’s Churches?

Love and Sex

Even the Pope Has Progressive Views on Same-Sex Unions. What About India’s Churches?

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

Pope Francis has been one of the most outspoken and forward-thinking men to hold the position when it comes to the topic of homosexuality. The Pope has spoken up about acceptance for members of the LGBTQ community several times in the past, and in a recently premiered documentary, did so once again. In the documentary, titled Francesco, which premiered on October 21 at the Rome Film Festival, the Pope says, “Homosexual people are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.” However, despite the Pope’s statements, the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) dismissed the documentary as “misleading”, saying there had been no change in the Church’s stance on same-sex marriage.

Fr Jacob Palakkappalli, a spokesperson for KCBC, said, “The Catholic Church has not diluted its stand on family life and homosexuality. The Church does not make exhortations about marriage and family life through documentaries.” He also specified the Church’s stand that “same-sex inclinations should be differentiated from same-sex acts”.

The KCBC, an organisation that includes bishops from the Syro-Malabar, Latin and Syro-Malankara Churches, reading down the Pope’s progressive statements is discouraging for those who thought Pope Francis’ progressive outlook might influence a change in the Church’s attitude toward homosexuality. The KCBC issued a statement saying, “The Pope’s official stance is the pastoral concern that is raised in ‘Amoris laetitia’, the note prepared following the synod on families. The Pope has not made any change in that stance.” This maintains that the Church will not recognise same-sex civil unions, but encourage people to be accepting of those from the LGBTQ community.

The reluctance of some bishops to commit to complete acceptance of same-sex relationships drew its share of detractors on social media.

The times might be changing, but some would like things to change at a slower pace.