He may have gathered enough liberal credibility to snag Time’s Person of the Year award, and even a citation from an LGBT magazine, but apparently Pope Francis draws a line in the sand when it comes to supporting some gay couples’ desire to adopt and raise children.
The pontiff reported himself “shocked” that the Civil Unions bill in Malta, which allows for two men or two women to marry, also allows for these couples to adopt children. At the encouragement of a pope widely touted as pro-gay enough to change the direction of the Catholic Church, Bishop Charles Scicluna delivered a heated sermon on the subject that stirred up some controversy within the Maltese congregation and around the world.
Scicluna reports that his sermon was “not about the rights of gay people, but about children’s rights,” but the sermon’s text is known to have included the observation that God chose a man and a woman to raise Jesus, not two men or two women. Thereafter, he urged the government “not to destroy the family based on the lasting bond between one man and one woman.”
And don’t be fooled – the rights of gay couples to adopt (and why those rights shouldn’t exist) are an issue about which Scicluna is passionate. He’s been speaking about it for a while. Earlier this month, he made news in Malta by calling for a study into the effects of gay adoption on children, saying:
This is not about the rights of gay people, but about creating a new type of family where the founding principle is not marriage between a man and a woman but any social partnership [. . .] The Church is against putting children in an environment where the common and natural experience of the conjugal love between a man and a woman is substituted by the quasi-marital relationship between a man and a man, or between a woman and a woman. Let us not play with the innocence of our children.
Scicluna seems to have an unnaturally hefty dose of innocence himself – rather too much to be commenting on the subject – if he believes that all straight marriages are naturally filled with love and virtuousness, and he’s downright ignorant if he’s unaware that gay relationships may also possess these qualities.
But this whole thing would hardly be worth remarking upon if not for the green light he reported from Pope Francis. Apparently, the pope who asked rhetorically “who am I to judge?” has found an answer. He may not be willing to judge the salvation or damnation of individual gay people, but he’s more than happy to judge their fitness to parent.
I guess a few choice sound bites do not an ally make.