Let’s Not be Naïve . . .
In the jubilation that accompanies the selection of a pope many commentators have expressed hope that the papacy of Pope Francis (née Jorge Mario Bergoglio) will feature reform. On some level, perhaps, every queer Catholic heart hopes that the appointment of a new Pope will feature a reform of the homophobic rhetoric that has been so damaging to our community for so long. For such reform to come during the reign of Pope Francis, however, would take a conversion experience of George Wallace proportions.
During his tenure as Cardinal, Bergoglio made it clear that laws designed to protect lesbian, gay, and bisexual families are “sent by the Devil,” and that our attempts to achieve legislative equality are “a move by the father of lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.” “Let’s not be naïve,” the Cardinal wrote, referring to Argentina’s Federal Same-Sex marriage and Adoption Act, “This is not a simple political fight; it is a scheme to destroy God’s plan.” The then-Cardinal referred to same-sex marriage as a “dire anthropological throwback.”
In a book he co-authored as a Cardinal, the now-Pope wrote, “Dialogue is born from an attitude of respect for the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to say. “ By his own definition, we can safely assume that whatever else may change, the reign of Pope Francis will not be one that initiates a dialogue with the sexual and gender minorities of the world.
On a positive note, it has been speculated that his fiery rhetoric was in part responsible for the passing of the Argentinian legislation he opposed. Given this, perhaps Pope Francis’ contribution to reform will be to so alienate those Catholics who support same-sex marriage (which a recent poll puts at 54% in the US), that a demand for real reform on sexual and gender equality shapes the next Papacy.
Margaret Robinson is a general editor and board member at Postcolonial Networks. For more information on her work, click here.
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Jason Craige Harris is a third-year master's candidate in Black Religion in the African Diaspora and a Marquand merit scholar at Yale Divinity School, where he was recently awarded the Mary Cady Tew Prize for exceptional ability in history and ethics. He earned a bachelor’s in religion and African-American studies from Wesleyan University and received the Giffin Prize for excellence in the Study of Religion, Spurrier Award for ethics, and an official citation for academic excellence issued by the 2009 Connecticut General Assembly. As a fellow at Wesleyan’s Center for the Humanities and a recipient of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, Harris wrote a senior honors thesis analyzing theological anthropologies along political and racial fault lines in U.S. Evangelical history. His research and writing are principally concerned with black life, Christianity, (post)colonialism, violence, feminisms, critical social theory, and ultimately planetary flourishing. Concerns arising from the academic study of Africana religion, philosophy, and ethics particularly inform his inquiries. Through an interdisciplinary framework, he probes the systems of values that undergird dominant epistemological, rhetorical, cultural, and religious forms to determine to what extent, if at all, they conduce to robust conceptions of justice. With an eye toward contemporary social problems, he considers the religious strategies and visions that historically marginalized peoples have created to respond to conditions of living and being delimited by restrictive understandings of race, gender, religion, and nation. He is a general editor at the Journal of Postcolonial Networks, where, among other things, he helps to facilitate conversations on race and postcolonial/liberation theologies. As a Christian minister and budding public intellectual, Harris seeks and invites others into more holistic and attuned, less violent and constrained, ways of narrating the self and the divine.
Areas of Interest and Research:
African American Religious Studies
African American Moral, Social, and Political Thought
African American Intellectual History
Liberation and Postcolonial (Christian) Thought
Philosophies of Liberation
Contemporary Religious Thought
Race, Gender, and American Christianities
Evangelicalisms and Pentecostalisms
Histories of Race Discourse in the Americas
(Christian) Social Ethics
Critical Social Theory/Social Philosophy
Theories of Race, Gender, and Power
Method and Theory in the Study of Religion
He is deeply committed to a praxis in which dualities of mind/heart, mind/body, and emotions/thought are consistently challenged and replaced with integrated models of selfhood that cherish self-multiplicity - the point at which the postcolonial becomes self-consciously embodied. He also enjoy taking walks in the coolness of the day, singing, laughing, and writing poetically and theoretically on his lived experience, whatever helps to bring more beauty and justice into the world.