Pope Francis Urges LGBTQ+ Community to Repent in the Power of the Holy Spirit
I’ve been waiting all my Catholic life for this. In response to Fr. Martin’s questions about how the Church should respond to the rainbow set, Pope Francis urges them to discover the Book of Acts as ‘the image of the living Church’!
Yeah, I know, the pontiff sandwiches that fiery-28-chapter invite to radical conversion between the somewhat banal reminder of God as inclusive Father and Church as welcoming Mother. Both true in the light of Acts’ call for all persons—believers and unbelievers (Jews and Gentiles) alike--‘to repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, and that times of refreshing may come from the Lord Jesus…for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 3:19; 4:12).
Every Easter, we Catholics have the privilege of getting saved again by immersing ourselves in Acts. For 50 days! If we don’t allow the fire of the Holy Spirit which roused the early Jewish Church to rouse us, we need to repent. If we don’t allow the Spirit to expand our borders to invite Gentiles to Church so that they may repent and be refreshed by the One who saves, we need to repent! Jesus will give us His heart for how the Church can and should be, ‘the image of the living Church.’
That is a far cry from the LGBTQ+ Mass featured in Fr. Martin’s ‘Building a Bridge.’ There hurting, unchaste persons raise (literally) the rainbow flag over the congregation and declare to God and each other: ‘we are out, we are proud, don’t you dare challenge us...’ The Church of Acts, on the other hand, followed the Apostles’ radical call to repentance; in the power of the Spirit, they forsook all secondary identifications except ‘Christian’ and joyfully folded together into one Body.
I think of my brothers and sisters in Canada and France whose laws forbid them from speaking publicly of how Jesus freed them from LGBTQ+ misidentification (‘hate speech’). Yet like the apostles, they respond to the government: ‘Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard…’ (Acts 4:19, 20).
Yes, I know Pope Francis can be confusing for persons like me who dare to live chastity (far more counter-cultural than asserting ‘gay’ Catholicism). But I will take him at his word, the Word of God alive and well and leaping off the pages of Acts to ignite ‘the living Church.’
Peter received the vision from heaven (Acts 11) about what is unclean (the Gentiles) becoming clean through ‘repentance unto life’; we can apply this pointedly to persons who have strayed from the Church and misidentified with disordered desire (any LGBTQ+ variant). And to them, to us, to me, the Council of Jerusalem reminds us that our new freedom to take our places and contribute mightily to this one Body must involve repenting of idolatry and all expressions of sexual immorality (Acts 15:28, 29).
Fr. Martin doesn’t understand this, or he would repent of referring to confused seekers as LGBTQ+ Catholics and would infuse his message of inclusion with a Spirit-ignited call to repent of sexual sin. When we are lit from within by the Spirit that catapulted Jesus from the tomb, united with fellow firebrands, who needs sin?
‘Save yourselves from the corrupt generation…Go and tell the people the full message of this new life’ (Acts 4:31; 5:20).