The Vatican released a statement that said the Catholic Church can’t bless same-sex marriages about a week ago. The statement raised confusion because Pope Francis said in the Vatican-approved documentary Francesco “homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God.”
Online discussions have surged about the hypocrisy of the Vatican, with Elton John, whose biopic Rocketman was funded by the Catholic Church, calling out the actions of the Vatican on Twitter, who put $4.7 million towards Rocketman and Men in Black.
Tyler MaGee, the St. Thomas University Students’ Union sexuality and gender diversity representative, said he believes the Vatican funding Rocketman was performative because of the recent statement from the Catholic Church.
“I don’t know if it’s necessarily hypocrisy full force, but I think that it’s them failing to know how to go about amends,” he said.
MaGee said he thinks this shows the ignorance inside the Catholic Church and that it doesn’t know how to support the LGBTQ+ community.
Andrew Klein, a Catholic studies professor at St. Thomas University, said there are misunderstandings when conversations come up on the topic of same-sex marriage in the Catholic Church.
He said that in Rocketman, same-sex marriage isn’t shown. People are more so asking how can the Catholic Church fund a movie about a gay man when gay marriage isn’t even allowed.
“As the Vatican is supporting that movie, they’re kind of fulfilling their mission in supporting the LGBTQ community in a way that still doesn’t advocate for their sexual practices,” he said.
Klein said that if you look at what the Catholic Church has always done, there isn’t a lot of hypocrisy involved.
“The message from the Catholic Church has been consistently ‘let’s make gay or lesbian people out to be treated with the dignity that all humans are owed and the respect that they’re allowed,’” he said.
But this doesn’t mean the LGBTQ+ community doesn’t have the same principle to marriage, he said.
In the Catholic Church, Klein said the theology of the church says the sacrament of marriage is to build families through procreation.
He said the crux of this issue boils down to what goes on in the bedroom from the Catholic Church’s point of view. Marriage, for Catholics, isn’t a civil union and the water starts to get muddy when this is discussed.
“Of course that the Vatican’s involvement in any kind of Hollywood production is probably worth scrutinizing. I think in general is a much larger issue there with like how the Vatican is spending its money and investing its money, but [the hypocrisy is] not gay marriage specific,” he said.
He said they could be using their money to help social justice movements or the impoverished.
It’s complicated to pinpoint why and where the hypocrisy comes from inside the Catholic Church, he said. To put it simply, it’s an institution run by men. There is nothing special about priests and people with power because they’re going to make mistakes, he added.
MaGee said he thinks change in the Catholic Church will happen from the bottom up. Individuals at the bottom will start to gain momentum and invoke change.
“Institutions rarely turn around and say, ‘how can we help you?’ and admit that they are wrong because to them, when you have power, you don’t want to give it up,” he said.
Klein said he doesn’t claim to speak for the entire Catholic Church. He believes every Catholic will have their own perspective on the damage inside the Church.
“Most or many will say it’s irredeemably damaged,” he said.
He said the Vatican every 15 years or so to discuss what needs to be changed inside the Catholic Church. But changing its stance on same-sex marriage would be changing an entire sacrament. They’ll also never change their stance on masturbation or common-law relationships, he said.
“But it’s asking a lot to have the queer community in the Catholic community sit on their hands and wait.”