Pope Francis has drawn flak from the LGBTQI community over his latest statements.

In his book, The Strength of a Vocation, Pope Francis has complained about the attractions of so-called “fashionable” homosexuality. He has stressed that homosexual priests should always hide their gay inclinations. If they cannot, his prescription is they must exit the Catholic Church. This stance is a far cry from the attitude the pontiff took in 2013 when he famously replied to a question asked by a reporter about gays in the Catholic church by saying that it is not his prerogative to judge if someone, although gay, seeks the almighty with a good heart.

Even though the Catholic Church forbids sexual activity between same sex members, it also asked for tolerance towards LGBT community members. The Vatican explicitly banned homosexuals or those who exhibit such tendencies or those who are supportive of gay culture to enter the holy orders or to step into Catholic seminaries.

The Pope’s comments have predictably drawn flak from the LGBT community. Marianne Duddy-Burke of DignityUSA, a gay Catholic advocacy group, expressed her opinion that the pope is treating the limited but actual progress in some countries with respect to recognizing gay individuals’ fundamental human rights as a “frivolous trend or a fad.” She asserted that queer identities are not a “matter of fashion.”

Duddy-Burke expanded on her assertion, saying that any progress LGBTQI people have made in the recent years has come at the expense of extreme sacrifice and pain by LGBTQI individuals. She recommended rather than belittle such progress the pope must examine the role of the Catholic church in oppressing gays for centuries and how the unsung LGBTQI religious men and clergy have made substantial positive contributions to the church and to causes.

The pope has urged gay nuns and priests who have taken vows to God to remain celibate. If they cannot, he recommended, they should resign from consecrated life and clergy duty but not lead any double life. Duddy-Burke has seized upon this comment and suggested that it is evident the pope believes lesbian and gay church clergy are somewhat less capable to commit themselves to any religious life. She also said the comments show LGBTQI Catholics are thought of as a kind of threat to the Vatican. The Pope’s comments reinforce long discredited and negative stereotypes which have led to violence and discrimination against homosexuals. The comments also demean gay clergy who have served God for decades from the confines of the church.

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