I believe the words we use have immense power. A powerful individual can create great and powerful movement just through speaking the right words.
“When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized,”
“A church without women would be like the apostolic college without Mary. We talk about whether they can do this or that, can they be altar boys, can they be lectors, about a woman as president of Caritas, but we don’t have a deep theology of women in the church,”
I think to myself: these are the right words. Or at least, this is language inching the Catholic Church in the right direction. No breakthrough has occurred on the social positions that drive so many of us crazy. Far from it. When Pope Francis says “The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem” we still know what he thinks the problem is: actual gay and lesbian individuals living fulfilling lives as gays and lesbians.
But we should recognize what change may be possible. When the Pope, the man in the highest seat of the most populous religious organization in the world says: “Who am I to judge?”, it means something. That I am not a member of the fold does not mean I ignore the power of the words that come from the Pope.
What the head of the Catholic Church says about how the Church sees gays and lesbians and its limited (to say the least) theology of women is worth being recognized. That’s true if the statements are lovely and open or oppressive and cruel. The Catholic Church has mountains to move if they are to begin righting what wrongs exist within those walls regarding their centuries of oppression of women and homosexuals.
Maybe that slow movement is underway? Or maybe there’s just more media savvy in the Vatican. Either way, these are the right words.