Tag Archives: Pope Francis

Catholic Schoolteacher Fired For Being A Lesbian To Meet The Pope

In June, Pennsylvania Catholic schoolteacher Margie Winters was fired after some parents discovered she had been married to another woman for eight years.

Her termination triggered an outpouring of support from students, parents, and the local community, who helped her petition for reinstatement at Waldron Mercy Academy.

Margie Winters

However vindication for Winters — who taught religious studies and remains Catholic — seemed a long way off, as the Catholic Church still refers to homosexual relationships as “objectively disordered.”

Frustrated, she told reporters she would “love to get the ear of the pope” during his visit to the U.S.

Margie Winters 03

Now it would appear Winters has got her way. She found out this week that she might just get that chance: She has been invited to the White House to meet the pope.

According to the Associated Press, Winters was officially asked to attend the welcoming party by the Human Rights Campaign, joining a slate of pro-LGBT religious dignitaries such as Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop; Mateo Williamson, former co-head of the Catholic LGBT organization Dignity USA; and Aaron Ledesma, an openly gay Catholic blogger.

Some officials within the Vatican have reportedly voiced unease with including LGBT representatives in the reception, worried that photos of Pope Francis with inclusive people of faith might be “interpreted as an endorsement of their activities.”
Invited guests such as Gene Robinson have expressed surprise that Francis would balk at the possible meetings, since the pontiff has met with gay and transgender people several times during his papacy and famously responded to a question about gay priests by saying “who am I to judge?”

However, neither the White House nor the Vatican has officially rescinded any invites.

Margie Winters 01

Winters’ presence at the White House shines a spotlight on the growing issue of Catholic employees fired for being openly LGBT, a practice that has become increasingly common as the United States embraces LGBT rights.

Several teachers, church workers, and diocesan employees have lost their jobs in recent years when Catholic employers took umbrage with their sexual orientation, sparking several large, ongoing protests and demonstrations among community members.

Catholic Church

Church officials typically justify the firings by pointing to the so-called “ministerial exception,” a legal provision that allows religious institutions exemption from nondiscrimination policies when they hire and fire people for positions they claim to be “ministerial.”

The exception traditionally applied only to clergy, but a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court case expanded the definition to include virtually anyone a religious organization deems to be a “minister,” granting them broad powers to discriminate in hiring.

A photo-op with Winters and Francis would a bit awkward for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the religious group ultimately responsible for firing her.

The Archdiocese is hosting this week’s World Meeting of Families, a large Catholic conference which the pope will also attend, but has barred pro-LGBT groups from speaking and invited several presenters who promote ex-gay therapy.

Angelina Jolie Has Private Audience With The Pope

Movie star-turned-director, Angelina Jolie, made a VIP trip to Rome to have an audience with Pope Francis where he also had a preview screening of her latest film ‘Unbroken’. Talk about having friends in high places, huh?


Angelina directed ‘Unbroken’, which about American Olympian and World War Two hero Louis Zamperini, whose plane was shot down over the Pacific during World War Two. The film stars Jack O’Connell, and tells the story of Zamperini’s survival in a raft  and his ordeal as an inmate in prisoner of war camps.

A source revealed that both Angelina and Brad ‘admire the pope’ and ‘like the pope’s message’ after he famously spoke about homosexuality in 2013, where he said: ‘If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?’

Her meeting with the Pope comes just three months after the actress received an honorary Damehood from Queen Elizabeth II.


Angelina continually campaigns for charities and those less fortunate than her selves, spearheading her involvement with many global organisations and causes thanks to her role as a UN Ambassador.

Elton John Calls Pope Francis “My Hero” for His Push towards Acceptance of LGBTs in the Catholic Church 

Elton John has called Pope Francis “my hero” for his compassion and push to accept gays in the Catholic church, at his annual AIDS benefit.

John hosted the event, “An Enduring Vision: A Benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation,” Tuesday night in New York City. He says Francis is pushing boundaries in the church and told the crowd:

“Make this man a saint now, OK?”

Catholic bishops scrapped their landmark welcome to gays earlier this month, showing deep divisions at the end of a two-week meeting sought by Francis to chart a more merciful approach to ministering to Catholic families. An earlier draft of the document offered a welcoming tone of acceptance, but that was stripped away.

John called Francis “courageous” and “fearless.”

Argentina’s LGBT Activists Warm Up to Former Enemy

LGBT activists in Argentina have welcomed Pope Francis’s new moves towards reconciliation for the “grave crimes of sexual abuse” committed against children. The President of the Argentine Homosexual Community (CHA) praised Francis’s humble and fiercely-worded homily as “a much need and timely gesture” that he hopes will lead to change in lower levels of the Church. In a private mass for six victims of abuse this week, the Pope lamented the role of “Church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves.” In late May, he compared abuse by clergymen as akin to performing ‘satanic mass’.

This strong language is approached with more skepticism in the Pope’s home-country where rights groups are used to a contentious relationship with the man once known as Cardinal Jorge Bergolglio. While LGBT groups are warming up to the Pope’s role in a global debate that is far more conservative than Argentine politics, they are still cautious about how much reform is still needed.

CHA President César Cigliutti encouraged Vatican cooperation with the United Nations but remained skeptical. “In 10 years there were 3,420 priests accused of sexual abuse and only 884 were it removed, representing less than 26 percent,” he said. “We hope that in Argentina the bishops follow the example of the Pope, that they also apologize and meet with victims of abuse.”

The cooperation of bishops has been a characterizing feature of LGBT groups relationship with the Church in Argentina. As the elected president of the Argentine Episcopal Commission, Cardinal Bergoglio was an active but confusing opponent of gay-marriage when Argentina became the first Latin country to federalize equal unions. Groups like the Argentina Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Trans (FALGBT) found themselves matched against the Cardinal in a passionate national debate pitting Vatican ideology against Peronist Catholic rivalry.

The Cardinal was one of the most outspoken opponents during the marriage debate but eventually he publically supported same-sex unions as an alternative to full marriage. However, when he took this pragmatic suggestion to the commission, it was democratically rejected. While remaining an opponent of marriage, he reached out to FALGBT and other LGBT activist groups on behalf of the church, sympathising with gay issues and even calling himself a supporter of ‘gay rights’.
Now, as Pope, Francis is continuing his sympathy for gay issues, even if he remains squarely in support of doctrine. He is opening a two-year debate on LGBT topics as well as other sensitive progressive subjects such as contraceptives and the role of women. While this is unlikely to be revolutionary, Francis still plays an important role as an ally of individual liberalism.

This is where LGBT and other activists in Argentina can find some optimism in perspective. At home, Francis was a rallying force for conservative arguments relative to progressive local politics, but in a global conversation that is much more radical it’s hard to vilify a voice pushing towards center.

Gay Kisses in Church Exhibition now in New York

Originally scheduled to show in Rome in 2013, Si, quiero was prevented from being displayed when the Vatican threatened legal action send an injunction and cease and desist letter to the “Opera” gallery in Rome, to shut down the show. Despite the Pope’s openness to tolerance and acceptance of the differences in people’s alternative lifestyles, some things are still too hot for the Church of Rome, which is the reaction Orquin received when depicting gay couples kissing.

However, this has not stopped the work being displayed by other. Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art is currently featuring the photos.

This was a very simple decision for us. We heard that the work, these lovely images of people kissing in beautiful settings, was being denied access and we wanted to do something about it. In part, it is why this Museum exists. We offer opportunities to show work that others won’t, particularly work that speaks to the gay and lesbian community. These photographs present same-sex couples displaying the same rights that should be fundamental and basic to all.”

Hunter O’Hanian, Leslie-Lohman Museum Director

The Installation in the Window Gallery at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art recreates Orquin’s photographs featuring same-sex couples kissing in Italian churches and is on view from the Museum’s street level Window Gallery 24 hours-a-day.

It was the goal Orquin (who was originally from Seville, but residing in Rome now for many years), to expose ‘the bigotry of Italians’, and with the help of friends he photographed the couples in Rome’s beautiful Baroque cathedrals at dawn. The images consciously play with the symbolism of marriage – a right still not afforded gay couples in Italy.

“I am Catholic. I believe in God deeply. I think if you look closely at my pictures no one can find blasphemy or sacrilege. A kiss is a gesture of love, of tenderness between human beings. I wanted to show that if God is love (and this I have learned in church), no one can tell us what kind of love is best. I don’t think my love is different than others’ love.”

Gonzalo Orquin

The Pope suggests Catholic Church could support same-sex civil unions

While reaffirming the Catholic Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage, Pope Francis said in a newspaper interview Wednesday that the church could support some form of civil unions. In an interview published in Corriere della Sera, an Italian daily, the pontiff suggested the Catholic Church could tolerate some types of same-sex civil unions as a practical measure to guarantee property rights and health care. The pope said that “matrimony is between a man and a woman,” but moves to “regulate diverse situations of cohabitation (are) driven by the need to regulate economic aspects among persons, as for instance to assure medical care.”

“Matrimony is between a man and a woman,”

Pope Francis

The new Pope, who marks his first year as Pope on March 13, has sought to set a more tolerant tone for the Catholic Church on issues related to homosexuality and abortion. Francis had led the Catholic Church’s public stance against legalising same-sex marriage in Argentina while he was Archbishop. At the time, Francis called the proposed legislation “a destructive attack on God’s plan.” However, he was part of a number of Catholic bishops have supported civil unions for same-sex couples in Argentina.

In an interview with CNN last year, Marcelo Marquez, a leading Argentinian LGBT rights activist, said that during that nation’s 2010 debate over same-sex marriage, he received a phone call from the Pope Francis then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires.  According to Marquez, then-Cardinal Bergoglio told him “… ‘I’m in favour of gay rights and in any case, I also favour civil unions for homosexuals, but I believe that Argentina is not yet ready for a gay marriage law.’ “