Monday, August 19, 2013

Is it victory for us?

It all started with a simple reply to a reporter's question. He replied with a question: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Pope Francis asked. And it was a question/reply that generated a lot of buzz, even excitement. And that included me.

My oftentimes conflicted Catholic soul was yearning for some 'official' acknowledgment of my sexual identity. Although I have made some peace with my self, I felt joy with that non-judgmental tone of the Pope, very different from all the others.

The Grim and Determined Jonas Bagas, however, was less than excited:
Pope Francis' conciliatory tone towards gays is a welcome change, but here's why i'm not jumping for joy: harm was done, is being done vs LGBTs and women by the Catholic leadership. If he truly believes in this non-judgmental stance, then he should correct the harm done by the Church hierarchy against LGBTs: the Vatican & the CBCP should apologize for taking part in the establishment of a climate of stigma, discrimination, & abuse against LGBTs; it should stop supporting so-called gay conversion therapies; it should stop undermining evidence-based and human rights-informed HIV programs; and it should report to police all cases of sexual abuse involving priests and church officials.
JonasBagas on Facebook July 29

My first reaction to him and all the nega others was disappointment. How could he not find the statement something to rejoice over? Imagine this millennia-old institution finally prohibiting itself from "judging" after having done that for... forever? Why be so negative about it and not consider this a victory, albeit a small one?

However, reading through other comments and even talking to my priest-friend calmed me down. The Pope really didn't say anything new. The Church has always officially said to not 'condemn' the sinner but the sin. But the tone and manner just made it lighter. The op-ed article in Time magazine gave a very balanced view, to my mind. And yet it ended on a note of cautious optimism.

This exchange going inside my head reminded me of one discussion between Jesse and Celine (Before Midnight). I think it was something about Celine's work, in an environmental NGO. And Jesse was expressing that much progress has been made in this regard. Celine was aghast! She couldn't disagree more vehemently. And she pointed out that such attitudes were responsible for perpetuating the status quo. They had such contrary opinions.

And on hindsight, that is fine. We really live in a world of plurality and diversity. Very, very rarely would there be a singular, common voice or position. And it is this constant tug-of-war that makes the discussion alive, and actually starts to make something happen. Tension builds as, slowly, more voices join in, and it starts bearing towards one direction. A lot of this happens as undercurrent. And sometimes, there would be circumstances and events in the outside world that would just massively influence the way the discussions go. Then suddenly, there is change. Look at gay marriage in the U.S. Who would have thought we would see that in our lifetime?

I love comparing this to the constant movement of tectonic plates. These plates are either moving away or bumping against each other. But because of the massive size, it would seem nothing is happening. But tension continually builds. Until one day, tension is released through an earthquake.

I will disagree with Jonas and all the others. I will be elated by such pronouncements, even if they do not actually mean much. But I also need to embrace his grim determination to never give in, to remain steadfast in the cause until total victory is achieved. His kind will be relentless. And that is needed, as much as optimism is.

The key is to remain engaged. And to infect others to hold opinions, sometimes opposed. To never let the momentum slacken. Then, change could happen.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


FiftyShadesOfQueer said...

Haiy, ayoko na magbasa ng comments tungkol dyan. Minsan naaffected ako. Gusto kong basahin para malaman opinion ng iba pero di pata ako strong enough?

Geosef Garcia said...

What a thought-provoking entry! I do believe that after Pope Francis gave that remark, things might gradually start to progress. Evolution isn't an overnight process, so we must be very patient and civil if we want the world to fully accept us. I hope that's not the last good thing the Pope will say for the LGBT community. :)

joelmcvie said...

We all need a gamut of engagement for change to happen. Vive la difference, ika nga ng the people who beheaded a woman who wanted them to eat cake. LOL

Anonymous said...

It just shows how the Pope regards people, not based on their status in life nor their race, color and gender. I also believe what he says that more than intellectual theologising, what is needed is for priests and Catholics to be with the people. How I wish I can e-mail you to answer/reflect/discuss some of your questions.

chink said...

I do not wish to water down or over exaggerate whatever value Pope Francis' statement may find in each person, BUT as a catholic myself, i do not think that his statement may matter that much to change a person's value system. In this particular case, I believe that he is speaking from his own point of view and not from a position of magisterial office. Therefore, although his statement might excite others to respond on the positive and/or negative, I believe that we should understand the more important message beyond the desire to have affirmation from any authoritative figure.

Pope Francis placed two criteria, seeking God and good will. As a gay person, if we have these two criteria, even if the Catholic institution condemns us, I know in my heart that everything will be justified by the Lord. So instead of waiting for someone to affirm what we are, why not work on ourselves to nurture our relationship with God and to cultivate our wellspring of good will. Thus, in this way, we can be true Catholics, not only by title or association BUT more importantly thru concrete actions. Never mind if we are not considered Catholics; so long as we show signs of love and unity, people will see that in us, God is present and working in our lives.

Victor Saudad said...

not much of a victory... but definitely something to rejoice about.

Anonymous said...

He is a kind and humble Pope but nothing has changed. The Church doctrines and teachings are exactly as they were.

Anonymous said...

let's face it, religion and modern day ideas almost always clash. deal with it!

Anonymous said...

Chink could not have said it any better :-)