Ludwigshöhe, Rheinland-Pfalz, GERMANY – Does the Catholic Church change? Many would probably say no, with its old stone buildings that withstand wars and the weather and a book as old as our calendar system.
But what if I told you that angels only started playing a role in theology in the third to fifth century and are still mentioned in the Bible?
What if I told you that “man shall not lie with man” was originally “man shall not lie with boy,” referring to pedophilia rather than homosexuality?
Pope Francis recently said that all Christians, including homosexuals and all members of the LGBTQ+ community, are children of God, valid, accepted and loved.
Naturally, many conservative believers argue against this, referring to the aforementioned Bible verse and claiming that homosexuality is wrong, sinful, or unnatural.
Homophobia within the Catholic church is not, like these people would argue, something that has always been there.
The late historian John Boswell, who was a professor at Yale, attributed it to the increasing intolerance in 12th century Europe.
It can thus not be denied that the Church does change over the years. It has been changing and will continue to change.
And change is what Pope Francis is bringing with him.
Francis seems to be the most liberal pope ever, definitely the most liberal pope recently. He is unusual in that Pope Benedict XVI, his predecessor, is still alive but stepped back from a papal role, hadn’t happened in centuries.
And even though Benedict is alive, Francis is choosing to evolve with time, and to do things differently, which takes courage.
Many conservative Christians grew up with the belief that homosexuality is wrong. They call it sinful and unnatural and do not realize that they are contradicting themselves, preaching that God does not make mistakes and that God created us all and then condemning those who happen to differ from their norm.
They do not see science either, apparently, because homosexuality exists in many species and is obviously a natural occurrence.
Francis is just as old or older than these conservative people and yet he does not seem to be set in his ways. He recognizes that all people deserve human rights and that those should never be up for discussion.
He does not only preach kindness, he is kind. And by that, he is making a difference. He is bringing change.
This change is not a negative thing. The values of the church are not being lost, though some conservatives might fear that.
This change leads to young, Christian LGBTQ+ people feeling accepted instead of hating themselves, feeling welcome in this huge spiritual environment instead of becoming depressed and turning away from religion entirely.
This change is a big deal for everyone who has been ashamed of their own identity.
And more than that, this change is positive for the church as well. The LGBTQ+ community has not been welcome in the Catholic Church for centuries.
Even if gay people were religious, they turned away from religion or found different ways to practice because they were being judged, looked down upon and oppressed. Not anymore.
Francis no longer allows for homophobia to be justified with the Bible. Homophobia will never cease to exist, but now it can no longer be attributed to the Vatican. The pope represents God on Earth and he accepts my community.
So those who choose not to support my community are arguing against God – or the one closest to God – against Christianity, not for it
Francis has made being homophobic a choice, while recognizing that being gay is not one.
Annalena Stache is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.