Pope Francis called marriage equality "ideological colonization" to destroy family

Pope Francis came out with his strongest comments against marriage equality, calling it, "ideological colonization that we have to be careful about that is trying to destroy the family." His comments came during a visit to the Philippines, and in the midst of a Roman Catholic conversation on marriage and family.

Reuters speculates that the phrase "ideological colonization" is messaging directed at developing countries, urging them to resist following countries that allow for marriage equality.

The statement comes as a bitter disappointment to those who hoped that Pope Francis would be one to bring reformation on the issue of marriage equality and the equal treatment of LGBT people within the Roman Catholic Church.

Just yesterday, CNN beautifully highlighted the story of LGBT Filipinos who were eager for the Pope's visit, looking forward to a word of consolation, and not of the condemnation that came during his visit. Hearing this couple's story, it would be hard not to imagine the disappointment they felt.

Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of Dignity USA, also shared her disappointment at Pope Francis' comments, noting how similar they sounded to several of the commentators on GLAAD's Commentator Accountability Project.

“DignityUSA is disturbed and disappointed by Pope Francis’ remarks in the Philippines referring to support for same-sex marriage as ‘ideological colonization…that is trying to destroy the family,’” said the organization’s Executive Director, Marianne Duddy-Burke.  “Especially in light of the more welcoming and sensitive tone on LGBT issues that the Pope has taken over the past two years, it is disconcerting to hear a phrase that is a hallmark of extreme right-wing religious leaders and politicians coming from the leader of the Catholic Church.  We hope that these recent remarks do not represent a resurgence of anti-marriage equality activity from the Vatican and the world’s Catholic bishops, just a short time after the Pope seemed to discourage such activity in the United States and elsewhere.

Francis DeBernardo, the Executive Director of News Ways Ministry, offered some analysis of the statement and the setting:

The hallmark of Francis' papacy has not been his outreach to LGBT people, though indeed that has been more marked than his predecessors.  The hallmark has been his openness to dialogue and discussion.  "Ideological colonization" invokes a political framework of imposing outside values by force. He should have followed his own principles and been a listener in the Philippines, rather than a talker

The Pope's comments come in anticipation of the Roman Catholic World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia this September. Already, the Vatican has held an Extraordinary Synod on Marriage and Family, which presented brief glimmers of hope, which were quickly squelched. The Vatican followed up with a conference that featured some of the leading (and not always Roman Catholic) anti-LGBT leaders, under the title The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium.

The comments run counter to the vast majority of Catholic people in the United States who support their LGBT friends and family, including supporting marriage equality. GLAAD is continuing to work with Catholic LGBT organizations and people to change the culture of the Church, and perhaps one day, the hierarchy.