Much has been written about how the “Francis Effect” could indicate that the Catholic Church may be on its way to becoming a more affirming, or at least accepting, place for LGBTQI people. Most often cited are the Papal Plane comments, Francis’ question “Who am I to judge?” (July 2014) and his more recent comment that the Church should “apologize to the gay person whom it has offended” (June 26, 2016). However, I believe the most promising message for LGBTQ people (and for others marginalized by Catholic teaching and practice) may lie in another of the Pope’s provocative statements, and the fallout that is occurring a year and a half later.
In a December 2014 interview with the Argentine newpaper La Nacion, Francis addressed the issue of divergent opinions surfacing among Church leaders. Discussing the first phase of the Synod on the Family, the Pope said, “Resistance is now evident. And that is a good sign for me, getting the resistance out into the open, no stealthy mumbling when there is disagreement. It’s healthy to get things out into the open, it’s very healthy.”
Francis went on to say that it is entirely natural to have such disagreements in the Church. “Resistance means different points of view, not something dirty,” he said. “It is connected to some decisions I may occasionally take, I will concede that. … I am not worried. It all seems normal to me. If there were no difference of opinions, that wouldn’t be normal.”