There’s a saying among some Catholics, “Once a Catholic, always a Catholic.” And by some measures, it’s true, especially if you went to a Catholic elementary school.
We studied Catholicism in my small school in Livingston County, along with math, English, and other subjects. But some of the church's teachings trouble me as an adult. Attitudes toward women’s health and contraception, abortion, LGBT rights, and ordaining women priests are issues where I don’t share the Vatican’s views.
And that may be why Pope Francis sparked my interest in the Catholic Church again. His humility and openness to opposing views, his willingness to ask for forgiveness, and his stark contrast to past church hierarchy and its judgmental platitudes are what make him so attractive to millions of people around the world.
That’s also why I was so disappointed when I read that Pope Francis held a secret meeting with Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses because it goes against her religious convictions.
I believe Davis sincerely believes in her cause, but I don’t agree that religious freedom, particularly as it pertains to Christians, is under attack in the US. Agreeing with a legal opinion about same-sex marriage and expecting laws to be upheld is not an attack on Davis or her religious freedom.
Where is the empathy for those in the LGBT community who are passed over for a promotion at work, have their application for rental housing denied, or are still prevented from being with their partners in some hospitals and nursing homes?
Who protects LGBT youth when they are tossed out of their homes? Where is the pope’s concern for the young LGBT men and women who choose suicide instead of relentless bullying and torment?
I don’t expect Davis, Pope Francis, or the Catholic Church to change their views, and they shouldn’t expect some of us to change ours. I’m intrigued by Pope Francis and, as he requested, I will pray for him. But the secret Davis meeting was a reminder that LGBT people and their families are still not part of the Catholic family, though for a brief moment he made us believe that we might be.