30 September 2015

Pope Supports Kim Davis

Pope Supports Kim Davis
Finally, after several days of avoiding the issue, most probably at the request of the American government, Pope Francis has express his support to Kim Davis' decision not to violate her religious belief by catering to the whims of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) people. He waited until his historic U.S. visit was over to make this most direct comment so far on the nation's debate over gay marriage.

That statement came in response to a reporter's question on the papal plane about the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed earlier this month for refusing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage in all 50 states.

"Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right," Francis told reporters, speaking in Italian. "If someone does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right."

Francis alluded to the Roman Catholic Church's objections to gay marriage during some of his U.S. talks, citing concerns about "juridical" changes to the definition of the family. Still, he largely avoided the issue, the subject of intense debate.

"He wanted to be bridge-building and not divisive, and that's one of the most polarizing issues in contemporary American society," said Boston College theology professor Stephen Pope.

While Francis has brought a humble, nonjudgmental approach to his office, he has not changed Catholic dogma, which holds that homosexual activity, extramarital sex and abortion are sinful.

Even as his change in tone has raised Francis' popularity among liberal-leaning Catholics, his de-emphasis of the Church's opposition to gay marriage and abortion in favor of calls for action on climate change and criticism of the excesses of capitalism has lowered his approval among conservatives, polls show.

Papal spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters shortly before his departure last 27 September that the pope had not commented extensively on gay marriage during his visit because his views on the subject were obvious.

"He comes here hoping to deliver a positive message," Lombardi said. "He does not want, I think, to get into polemics or discussion because he comes for a positive message."

Bill Donohue, of the conservative-leaning Catholic League, said he believed that however guarded, Francis' message of the Church's continued opposition to gay marriage and abortion was clear to devoted Catholics.

"He didn't want to use divisive language ... but at the same time it was pretty clear that he was denouncing radical Islam, that he was denouncing same-sex marriage," Donahue said. "He was very clear on abortion. I don't think anyone failed to hear what he was talking about."