You just can't win with Pope Francis. One day he's saying that Christians ought to apologize to the gay community and others marginalized by the church, and the next he's back to marginalizing left and right by calling transgender people an "annihilation of man."
Francis made his latest anti-trans remark during a private meeting with bishops in Poland while on a pilgrimage there; The Vatican released a transcript of his comments on Tuesday.
The pope said he wanted to conclude his remarks by reflecting on this lovely thought, no doubt plagiarized by/from the RNC: “We are living a moment of annihilation of man as image of God.”
“Today, in schools they are teaching this to children—to children!—that everyone can choose their gender,” Francis said, vaguely blaming this on textbooks provided by “persons and institutions who donate money."
The pope also blamed what he called “ideological colonizing” backed by “very influential countries,” without naming any one specifically—but I imagine he followed it with a series of coughs that sounded a lot like "America" and "Thanks, Obama."
One such “colonization," Francis declared, “clearly with its first and last name—is gender."
Francis then brought up a conversation he had with Pope Benedict, who, it turns out, isn't locked away at Shady Pines but rather is still squatting at The Vatican since stepping down in 2013.
“Speaking with Pope Benedict, who is well, and has a clear mind, he was telling me: ‘Holiness, this is the epoch of sin against God the Creator.’ He’s intelligent! God created man and woman, God created the world this way, this way, this way, and we are doing the opposite."
Francis brought this inspiring little session to an end by telling the Polish bishops to reflect on this: “We must think about what Pope Benedict said—‘It’s the epoch of sin against God the Creator.’”
Ok. Well, I don't know about you, but I have a lot of questions, the biggest being: is Pope Benedict just hanging around The Vatican giving out terrible advice all day instead of playing shuffle board and inhaling Viagra like a normal 89-year-old retiree? I mean, if he's so well and so clear-minded, did he just step down as pope because he was over it? And if that's the case, thank you.
Because while Francis has been the most gay-friendly pope ever, so what, it's the Catholic Church—the same Catholic Church that elected a former Hitler youth as Francis's predecessor. Gay-friendly is basically not immediately throwing holy water on a same-sex couple entering church. But for all his (relatively) progressive views on the gays, when it comes to the transgender community, Francis likes to kick it old school.
Take for instance his comments last year on the transgender rights movement:
"Let's think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings...Let's think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation."
"With this attitude, man commits a new sin, that against God the Creator. The true custody of creation does not have anything to do with the ideologies that consider man like an accident, like a problem to eliminate."
Despite all these lamentations and protestations about how harmful transgender people are, I still haven't heard an apology for the Crusades, but whatever. LGBT advocacy groups were quick to criticize Francis, including the Human Rights Campaign and Gay Men's Health Crisis.
“It is deeply disappointing," HRC national press secretary Sarah McBride told the New York Daily News, "that so soon after his healing apology to LGBTQ Catholics regarding their treatment by the church, Pope Francis would choose to deny the very humanity of transgender people, including children."
"Our children deserve to know that of course they have the right to choose, and GMHC applauds all schools that teach students not to oppress who they are, but instead live the life as the gender they most identify with," GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie said in a statement.
"We stand with all transgender and gender non-conforming individuals and will continue our work combating the stigma, discrimination, harassment and obstacles this community faces every single day."