“Who am I to Judge?” – The Pope, Gays and the Church.

“Who am I to Judge?” – The Pope, Gays and the Church

tellem2.featured-150x150By Susan M. Tellem, Partner, Tellem Grody PR, Inc.

In yet another surprising outreach to a group marginalized by the Catholic Church, Pope Francis continued his 21st Century communications by telling reporters, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?”  He added, “The problem is not having this orientation. We must be brothers…You see a lot written about the gay lobby. I still have not seen anyone in the Vatican with an identity card saying they are gay,” he joked.

Pope Francis March, 2013 (Source: Wikipedia)

Pope Francis
March, 2013
(Source: Wikipedia)

While it’s too early for LGTB groups to celebrate a radical change in church teachings, it is another example of the Pope’s deviation from his predecessors’ “princes of the church” approach to talking at the faithful rather than to them.  Pope Francis went on to say that homosexual acts are a sin, and that’s where society and social media has not influenced his position or the Church’s teachings.

It’s important to remember that this is a 2,000 year old institution and change will not happen overnight or even in most of our lifetimes.  But not since Vatican II have we had a pope willing to listen to his faithful and talk with them rather than at them.

What is interesting is the fact that this does not appear to be the result of a Vatican public relations strategy, but rather a heartfelt conversation from a man far different from previous popes.

My father, daughter and one son are graduates of Jesuit education.  Jesuits are far different than priests from other orders.  In an article on Jesuit education, Jack Butler, mission and ministry vice president at Boston College, says,” Jesuits are networkers…but their networking is to be better able to engage society…Jesuit education prepares men and women to go out into the world.”  He added that Jesuit education should inspire students to want more and to seek to live with enthusiasm.

After his recent trip to Brazil where he kissed hundreds of children, exchanged his white papal skullcap with others thrown at him and embraced sports jerseys tossed at him by the crowd, “enthusiasm for life” sounds a lot like our new pope.


 About the Author:  Susan Tellem, APR, RN, BSN, is a partner with Grody Tellem PR, Inc. Los Angeles.  She was a member of the media advance team during Pope John Paul’s visit to Los Angeles.  A cradle to grave Catholic, she leads the crisis practice at TGPR.