Photo: Vatican Media

Vatican Chronicles: Pope “in the Gay Pride” March (But Read he Chronicle) and His “Spiritual Directions” in the G7 Summit

Week of June 10-16, 2024

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(ZENIT News / Rome, 18.067.2024).- Ten years after initiating his pontificate, Pope Francis continues having “first times.” During the second week of June, 2024, the Holy Father had “three first times,” with very different audiences: comedians, political leaders of the G7 and a group of top level bankers and businessmen.

104 comedians and a Jesuit priest (whom the Vatican called officially “humour artists”)  went to a private audience with the Pontiff on Friday morning, June 14. The Pope gave them a very good speech on the art of laughter: he acknowledged their capacity to spread serenity and a smile, and said an axiom to them that many repeated to the press after leaving the audience: “when you are able to trigger intelligent smiles even if it’s only of one spectator — what I’ll say now isn’t a heresy! — you also make God smile. Leaving aside his prepared address, the Pope reminded them of a prayer to ask for a sense of humour (written by Saint Thomas More), which he himself has prayed for over 40 years. At the end, they all “prayed” it together.

Seen that Friday 14th in the Vatican were 104 known faces  of international comedy. But seen also was a face that it’s still not understood why he was invited, at least in the quality of comedian (unless what he does is considered precisely that, a comedy). We are referring to Jesuit James Martin, known LGBT+ activist, who a few days earlier, in the context of the anniversary of his priestly ordination, was able to have a private audience with the Pope. He had himself photographed in the audience, receiving the Pope’s blessing (allusion to Fiducia Supplicans? someone asked on Twitter) and, subsequently, he published the photo on the networks, saying that the Pope said he “has known many good seminarians and priests, holy and celibate, with homosexual tendencies. Once again, he confirmed my ministry with LGBTQ people and showed his openness and love for the LGBTQ community.”

Martin’s media intervention had a context that was not only of his activism: on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 11, Pope Francis held a meeting with priests of the diocese of Rome, specifically with those who have between 11  and 39 years of priestly ordination. It must be said that it was one of the Pope’s most difficult meetings, who has been having meetings of this sort with priests of Rome, by age groups. 500 priests were summoned to that June 11 meeting. Only a maximum of between 140-150 took part in it and, given that the format of such meetings is one of “question-answer,” it was one of the most uncomfortable for the Holy Father because of the type of questions.

In connection with the topic of homosexuality (it wasn’t the only one but is the one we have been treating), one of the questions had to do with that topic, in the broader context of vocations and the Seminary. The Pontiff answered:

“What I have said on this topic: if a boy wants to enter the Seminary and has a homosexual tendency, impede him. The Dicastery for the Clergy has said it and I support it. Because today the homosexual culture has progressed a lot and there are good boys who love the Lord, but it’s better not to do so, better not to do so. Once a Monsignor who works in the Vatican said to me: ‘Holiness, I want to say something to you, I am concerned about the gay culture that is here.’ I said yes to him, that there is an air of campness here. It’s true, it exists in the Vatican. But listen, Monsignor: today, for our culture, it’s an honour. Let’s be careful not to despise people with homosexual tendencies but accompany them; there are many good people. Accompany them, help them, send them to psychologists, but be careful about receiving them in the Seminary.”

In the preceding weeks this topic was recurrent and also controversial. In a meeting with the Italian Episcopate, the Pope used the word “faggotry” (in Italian “frociaggine”), which has a pejorative cultural nature. Afterwards, the Press Office published a press release with an apology request for the word used. Made public also shortly after was a private letter of the Pope, which was erroneously presented as a letter to a homosexual seminarian (in fact, the boy never entered a Seminary). The Pope’s letter contained words that were susceptible to being interpreted as if the Holy Father justified the boy’s entering the Seminary. It was in that context that the Roman priest asked the question during the meeting with Pope Francis on June 11.

Understandably, the use of the term, which is derogatory in Italian, sparked reactions. One of the most visible was the Gay Pride March in Rome on Saturday, June 15. Seen on the social networks were all sorts of that word used by the Pope (including some who were dressed up as the Pope), subject that in fact was a tendency on X (formerly Twitter, that same June 15). The extent of that “reaction against” was so great that, in that sense, it can be said that the Pope “was” (without being) in the June Gay March in Rome.

It was also “the first time” that the Pope was in the G7 summit, the summit of the seven most industrialized countries. It took place on Friday, June 14 in Apulia, in the south of Italy. The Pope went to speak about Artificial Intelligence at the invitation of the current President of the G7, Giorgia Meloni.

That Friday afternoon opened with the Pope’s address. A nice thing happened: after Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s introduction, the Pope took the floor and also two bundles of papers in his hands, one thick and the other thin: “Thank you very much for your attention. I have two versions here, the long and the brief. I’ll only read the brief one,” Pope Francis began by saying. The best summary of all that the Pontiff said (the full version of the address can be read here) was given by the Holy Father himself: “It corresponds to each one to make good use of it [of Artificial Intelligence, Editor’s note], and it corresponds to politics to create the conditions so that that good use is possible and fruitful.”

The Pope’s participation in the G7 Summit had more notable aspects. The first was the ample list of rulers that wished to have a private appointment with him. It seemed that the Pontiff went to the G7 to “attend in spiritual direction” the leaders of the planet’s most vigorous economies and some others. At midday he attended Zelensky (Ukraine), Macron (France) Trudeau (Canada) and Georgieva (International Monetary Fund); in the afternoon Ruto (President of Kenya), Modi (Prime Minster of India), Biden (USA), Lula de Silva (Brazil), Erdogan (Turkey) and Tebboune (President of Algeria).

Among the featured gestures during the day (for good or bad) were:

1)The affectionate and visible embrace that Pope Francis was given as he entered the room by Argentine President Javier Milei (a few days earlier the Pope had received in the Vatican Argentine trade unionists of the Government’s Airlines and the Governor of the Province of Buenos Aires, in the context of the disturbances over a law promoted by Milei);

2) The uncomfortable moment when Biden put his head on the Pope’s head;


3) The invitation of India’s Prime Minister Modi (recently re-elected) for the Pope to visit his country;

4) The fact that in the Summit’s final declaration abortion was not included as a topic (some adjudicate the fact to the leadership of Giorgia Meloni, a practicing Catholic who invited the Pope).

At the beginning we said it was about “three first times.” The third was the meeting with top level bankers and businessmen, received in private audience on Saturday morning, June 15. The  Pope presented them three challenges: the environment, the poorest and young people. In regard to this third category, Pope Francis interceded for them with this concrete and realistic request:

“No wok is learnt without “business hospitality,” which means to receive young people generously, although they lack the necessary experience and competencies, because all work is learnt by working.”

Presented also during the second week of June was a very relevant ecumenical document entitled “The Bishop of Rome.” As the document itself states, it is a study-document prepared by the Dicastery for Christian Unity, which summarizes the whole ecumenical debate about the service of the primacy of the Church since Vatican Council II. In synthesis, the document addresses the role of the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) in a unified Church with Orthodox and Protestants.

We end this chronicle with two last things, recommending the reading of the three synodal virtues that the Pope suggested to Representatives of Ecclesial Movements, during a special audience on Thursday, June 13: to think according to God, to overcome closure and to cultivate humility, an address that it is worthwhile reading.

The Holy Father began the week with a visit to the Capitol of Rome, headquarters of the Mayor. The address was also wonderful, and I want to reflect on two pieces of advice that the Pontiff gave: closeness as service of authority:

“(. . . ) give witness that authority is fully such when it is put at the service of all, when it uses its legitimate power to respond to the needs of the citizens and, in particular, of the weakest and the least. And this isn’t only for you, politicians, it is also for priests, for Bishops. Closeness, closeness to the People of God to serve them, to accompany them.”

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Jorge Enrique Mújica

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