In October of 2020, Pope Francis changed history by saying that “gay people are children of God.” In a documentary titled Franceso, the Pope stated that, “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.” However, in a decree released Monday that was approved by the Pope, the Vatican stated that Catholic clergy cannot have the authority to bless same-sex unions, and that “God cannot bless sin.”
In what feels like a full 180 degree rotation, hope that the Catholic church had changed their stance on same-sex relationships has been destroyed. The Vatican still says that Catholicism will welcome and bless gay people, but not their relationships or marriages, because they are “not part of God’s plan.”
The Pope’s initial statement supporting gay people was given just a month before the Vatican released a report of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s sexual misconduct, that was long covered up by the church. While there is no sure way to tell whether this was done strategically, a statement supporting the LGBTQ+ community being released soon before a report on sexual misconduct is suspicious, as it could help sway more liberal people’s support of the church in preparation for the report.
Additionally, Elton John criticized the Vatican for the decree after they invested millions of dollars into the biopic of his life Rocketman, giving them a large profit. The film features a lot of discussion on same-sex relationships since Elton John is gay himself. From this pattern, it seems that the Vatican may only be supporting the LGBTQ+ community when it benefits them. And now, their lack of support is coming out just as it has almost depleted its final reserves, making this a possible tactic to try and win back conservative supporters.
Supporting the LGBTQ+ community for a personal or financial benefit is not uncommon, and it’s something that we see often during pride month in June. The Vatican isn’t the only large entity to support the community when it could benefit them, rather than raise awareness for actual LGBTQ+ issues.
For example, H&M, the clothing brand, releases a pride month collection annually. However, only 10% of the proceeds from their “Pride Out Loud” collection are given to LGBTQ+ charities. So, the company receives most of the proceeds from the pride collection, allowing them to make a pretty large profit off of it. H&M isn’t the only brand that does this– almost every company that has a pride month collection takes most of the profits.
Either way, the idea of pride month collections are a vague sort of activism–they allow people to feel like they’re doing something good without actually being informed about it–like LGBTQ+ homelessness, workplace discrimination, LGBTQ+ mental health, and more.
In short, large entities like clothing brands and the Vatican have shown a pattern of only supporting the community when they can get financial gain out of it. In the process though, the Vatican has taken away the hope of many LGBTQ+ people who believed they finally got support from the church, possibly healing some religious trauma. Financial benefits, though, can never outweigh the mental health and acceptance of the community, that they deserve and need, rather than a vague sort of activism.