View From Rome
06 October 2016
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Francis was the first pope to use the word “gay” in its modern sense and now he’s become the first to talk openly about transgender issues, using the phrase “he who was she but is he”.
But discussing transgenderism doesn’t mean he’s finding it an easy issue to tackle. While in Georgia last weekend he called gender theory – that sees gender as a social construct – a threat to marriage, that was part of “a global war out to destroy marriage … not with weapons, but with ideas”.
On the plane home, he seemed to soften his stance, explaining that those struggling with whether they are male or female should never be turned away from the Church, but should be “accompanied” and “integrated” into parish communities.
It’s all part of the delicate approach that Francis is taking to hotly debated issues in his papacy which in the past might have simply met with a negative judgement from Rome. This Pope refuses simply to condemn what some feel is a confusing new development, instead putting individual people at the centre while maintaining the teaching of “male and female He created them”.
Last year, for example, he met with a Spanish transgender man and the man’s wife in the Vatican. Speaking on the plane on Sunday, he said this person “suffered much because she felt like a young man” although physically had been a woman (this was before undergoing gender reassignment surgery). “Life is life and things must be taken as they come,” the Pope added.
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