Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis this past Wednesday, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He’s a Jesuit from Argentina — the first pope from the Americas. It will be interesting to see if any changes come as a result of his different background compared to his predecessors. But for me, the more pressing question to be asking is: How will Pope Francis affect my sex life?
So maybe the pope won’t have a direct impact on how I fuck here in the U.S., but he is an international figure, so he must contribute to some influence, right? Media sources in the U.S. went wild on Wednesday to publicize Pope Francis’ history of homophobia and anti-gay marriage campaigns. I mean, is anyone really surprised? Were people honestly expecting the pope to emerge for the first time and say “Hey gurl hey?” I’m more worried about the juxtaposition between a rapidly-changing, progressive world and a conservative pope who is resistant to change.
I’m used to dealing with the conflict sexuality and the church. Being from a religiously-driven hometown, at times I felt as if I was one of the only liberals there. I am the oldest of four kids, so in high school having sex wasn’t the most ideal thing to do in my house. My partners and I would have stereotypical car sex, but with a twist: at a church. Although my farm town had only a mini-mart and gas station, we had churches on nearly every corner, so why not have kinky sex in church parking lots? Thinking back, it now seems coincidental that me, the gay atheist was having hot sex at a hate-filled church. Why does there exist a clash between the disapproving church and queer people?
Such a tension is epitomized by Pope Francis through his clear disapproval of gay marriage, gay adoption and gays in general. My problem with this is not the homophobic remarks, but rather the homonormative remarks. Media sources are only referring to statements regarding “gay” individuals, and not the general queer population, implying that if one isn’t heterosexual, one is homosexual. Media perpetuates the falsified sexuality binary between these two orientations. Sexuality is not a spectrum between heterosexual and homosexual, it is something that cannot be categorized at all by institutional binaries.
Because Pope Francis is Argentinian and Jesuit, many believe that this selection is a step in the positive direction, hoping for inclusion of the Church in the modern world. In addition, his unusual choice of the name Francis caught the public’s eye. If that wasn’t enough to shock the conservative, he began his first official speech with “good evening” and concluded with “good night,” something unheard of. But where is the progression away from conservative sexual repression, pope?
Francis said in response to a bill regarding marriage equality in Argentina: “Let’s not be naive, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.” How about pedophilic abuse within the Catholic Church? I am so sick of the church shaming queers from misinterpretation of their holy book. Let’s talk about the double-standard churches use when abusing their own youth.
In all faith, it is important to accept people for who they are, regardless of identity, sexuality or piousness. My purpose is not to spread hateful discourse on the religious at all. However, I don’t think that we can look up to the Catholic Church for a progressive answer to religious oppression. Although it is wonderful that the Church is working towards implementing a more diverse enclave of pontiffs by choosing Pope Francis, I wasn’t too thrilled to see the white smoke.
Image Source: Catholic Church (England and Wales) via Creative Commons