Pope Francis Dodges Binarism and Raises Questions for All

Photo of Pope Francis in white vestments from March 2013by Jessica Mason McFadden

Let’s talk Pope for a few minutes. The figurehead’s been in the news lately, and has, I guess you could say, a fairly big circle of influence. Clearly, it’s time that we, as feminists, weigh in respectfully and thoughtfully with whatever we’ve got. I’ll begin:

When I heard the news that He had spoken of the homos, I knew very well that I would be able to divine meaning from his words. The way that I heard about it, however, still gives me a chuckle. I was in a graduate-level Religious Studies class, of all places! At the start of class, a classmate who studies broadcasting asked if any of us would like to speak about Pope Francis’ comments for his campus news opinion segment. Immediately, I wanted to speak, but there was only one problem: I didn’t know anything about what the Pope had said.

Right away, I asked what he had said and the room was filled with an incoherent mess about Pope Francis’ remarks on homosexuality, about him not wanting to comment, about him saying that homosexuality is a sin but you can be forgiven if you don’t commit homosexual acts. I felt lost in a papal abyss of homoerotic ambiguity.

We pulled up an article and I got a general idea, but still felt uninformed.  Nevertheless, I formulated a statement, suggesting that if we’re confused about what the Pope meant that we ask him directly what he meant. I also threw in a line about encouraging the Pope to allow women to serve as members of the clergy, after which I went blank from camera fright.

When I returned to my seat, I regretted that I did not go up with my fingers in peace signs and croon, “Sineaaaaaad” in my best Bill & Ted voice. I also regretted that I had not responded to my classmate’s question by discussing the fact that there are many, many, mannnnny homosexuals already in the church, since his question implied that homosexuals somehow exist entirely outside of it. The priesthood, in my bold but gently-intended opinion, is a largely homoerotic institution. The fact that we can speak about homosexuality as if it is outside of the church is by far the most baffling aspect of this whole is-this-or-is-this-not-controversy exchange.

Clergy aside, apparently there is still some confusion about where Pope Francis stands on contemporary political issues, but much of that has to do with our collective desire for concretes to fight, either for or against.

Thanks to his interview with Rev. Antonio Spadaro, we have a few more clues. According to my decoding, when it comes to homosexuality, Pope Francis puts the person first. Essentially, he doesn’t exactly say what the church should say to homosexuals. Instead, he poses more questions. Sure, it may be a moment of rhetorical deflection, but I like to think he’s offering a wise and high-minded response.

In not answering the question in terms of judgment, he sets an excellent example for anyone. In other words, by not condemning, he offers acceptance. He also offers depersonalized wisdom, saying, “it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.” Read more

Posted on by Jessica Mason McFadden in Feminism, LGBT Leave a comment

FFFF: Mr. Deity Creates Marriage

Mr. Deity explains his thinking in coming up with the definition of marriage.


Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in FFFF Leave a comment

Marriage of the Penguins

by Roxanna Bennett

Remember when March of the Penguins came out and Evangelical Christians got all excited citing the penguins’ behavior as evidence that family values and perseverance were part of nature’s intelligent design?

Bet they’re regretting that bandwagon right about now. Pedro and Buddy, two African penguins at the Metro Toronto Zoo, are being separated by zookeepers for breeding purposes despite the intense social bond the two males have formed. As intense as if they bonded to breed. Like say, if they were married like a man penguin and a lady penguin. One zookeeper is quoted as saying: “They do courtship and mating behaviours that females and males would do.” Part of a larger group of 12 penguins, Buddy and Pedro socialize with the rest of the flock but at night pair off together, groom each other and will as a pair defend their territory.

Buddy and Pedro are originally from a zoo in Toledo, Ohio, and were bonded before the reached the Metro Zoo. Twenty-one year old Buddy had a female partner for ten years with whom we produced offspring but she is now deceased. Ten year old Pedro has never produced offspring and the zoo feels it’s their job to ensure that the penguins are matched with females and bred.

Buddy and Pedro are not the first same-sex animal pair, nor even the first same-sex penguin couple. In 2004 a pair of same-sex chinstrap penguins named Roy and Silo at New York City’s Central Park zoo incubated, hatched and raised a chick together, a female named Tango. Tango’s birth was the subject of a popular and controversial children’s book called And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.

A pair of male penguins at a zoo in Germany also successfully hatched a chick. It is almost rarer to find an animal species wherein there is not same-sex pairing than it is to find a completely heterosexual animal species. Same-sex pairings have been observed in elephants, giraffes, dolphins, apes, lions, sheep, swans, hyenas and vultures. The list of same-sex pairings in insects and marine species is too long to list.

But is it homophobia that has prompted the zoo to separate Buddy and Pedro? The Metro Zoo’s mandate is to conserve all animal species, especially those on the verge of extinction. Penguins are especially difficult to breed because researchers cannot extract sperm and penguin eggs are very labour intensive to hatch. The global African penguin population is 224, 000 and so it is thought vital that Buddy and Pedro do their part to further the species. The African Penguin’s numbers are declining from the usual suspects: pollution, oil spills, and commercial fisheries starving them out by capturing the penguins’ food supply.

Bird curator at the Metro Zoo Tom Mason has been quoted as saying: “If they weren’t genetically important, then we’d let them do their thing.”

The zoo intends to reunite the pair once they have successfully inseminated their new female partners.

Photo of African Penguins in Atlanta by TheCoffee via Wikimedia Commons.

Posted on by Roxanna Bennett in Can-Con, LGBT 3 Comments