In an essay for Crux, Passionist Father Edward Beck expressed the sentiment that many LGBT Catholics and supporters felt after hearing of Pope Francis’ call for apologizing to lesbian and gay people two weeks ago: words are empty unless followed up by actions. In a separate essay for Religion News Service, John Gehring, Catholic program director for Faith in Public Life, suggested some actions that bishops can take to make the apology more substantial.
In “Saying ‘sorry’ to gays a good step, but change still needed,”Beck, an author and commentator, shows how Vatican documents, and even statements from the pope when he was Argentina’s Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, have time and again offended lesbian and gay people, particularly around the issue of marriage equality. Beck noted that, despite the pope’s call for an apology, “Church opposition to same-sex unions and marriage remains intact.”
Apologies entail more than words, though, Beck observes:
“Apologies are a good thing. They imply a realization that we have wronged someone and are sorry for our words or actions that have offended.
“In our Catholic tradition however, forgiveness is also dependent upon a commitment to strive not to offend in the same way again. In the Act of Contrition recited during the Sacrament of Reconciliation the penitent states: ‘I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.’
“Is it evident that the Church (or Pope Francis, for that matter) has made that kind of commitment with regard to gays?”