A few months ago, I had pondered on what the now retired Pope Benedict might observe and learn on a trip with my family to Disneyland. He had just made some rude and inaccurate observations about families like mine, and I felt the reality, as demonstrated by tens of thousands of clamoring families in the “happiest place on earth” might give him something to think about.
Instead, he resigned.
Meanwhile, those within his church continued to act out obnoxiously and still others continued to put down lgbtq families, especially those lead by gay dads. There was some hope and speculation that the next pope might actually be gay, but that is unlikely. This week he is being selected.
As a gay dad, and a professional, I thought it would be fitting to do what one should, as a matter of courtesy, when someone gets a new job. You send a note of congratulations. So, on behalf of my family, including my two 10-year old sons, I am doing just that. Our note includes a suggested four point plan based on the principles that I have used with my sons, and that they have found effective.
Dear Pope Francis,
Welcome aboard! In full disclosure, we are not members of your church, but rather neighbors of yours in the world community. Since we apparently live in close enough proximity that your team feels the need to provide on-going commentary about us, we thought we would send you a welcome aboard note and warm wishes of congratulations.
We also thought we would also include a four point plan on how you might want to run the church and have an impact on the world. We don’t mean to over-step our bounds here, just make a few key suggestions. These are gay dad family style ideas…the kind that I share with my sons:
1. Be a good neighbor. What we are trying to say in the kindest of ways is… mind your own business. Except for this one letter, we usually do not make it our business to tell you how to run the church, and we would like you to stop telling us what is required to be a good and legitimate family. You have not created a family, rescued a child for life, have not spent sleepless nights over children with the flu, have not gotten your child to bed after waking with night terrors, or nursed a prematurely born child to health. So please – no lectures, and for heaven sake, please stop weighing in about our legal protections and telling everyone that if we get some, that heterosexuals will stop procreating and the world will end. Those kind of statements just make your team sound silly.
2. Respect women. Like your household, ours is made up 100% of the male persuasion. Unlike yours, our house understands that women are an intelligent and equal force in the world. My sons have been taught to respect, revere and take heed of the women authorities in their lives. You need to as well. It is time. Some of the nuns in your employ ROCK. The misogynistic infrastructure has got to go. Your right hand man needs to be a woman.
3. When you are wrong, say you are sorry and accept your consequences. This is a no-brainer for my sons, but seems to be a hugely difficult concept for your church. If you collectively were my sons, you would have found yourself on SUCH a Timeout , I can’t tell you. In any case, this is what you need to do. Cleanse the slate now. Say you are sorry to all those that have been hurt by your leadership both by direct abuse and by cover-up. Pay. Create foundations for abuse therapy and funds for direct financial restitution—not that there is a price tag to make up for what has been done. It may in fact, break your bank. You may have to sell and mortgage the riches of the church, but in the end, you will be spiritually richer.
4. Do good. That is the ultimate message I give my sons, and it is the one you should be giving the world. Do good works. The world has plenty of pain, and could use a Prince of Peace. How about giving that a try for the next few decades and see where it gets you. If I am wrong, you can go back to picking apart people’s personal gender characteristics and predicting the end of life as we know it.
So, there you go. Welcome to your new job. On behalf of me, my same sex partner, and my sons, I wish you well. I wish for you to emulate the Lamb and herald a new dawn of hope. I hope that you learn from many of the members of your own church who are fair, tolerant and want a better world. I pray that you look out at the rainbow of the LGBTQ community and see it with the same sense of promise as Noah did when he saw his rainbow as he descended from the Ark.
Surprise us. Inspire us. Show us what love really looks like.
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Hi Rob, I’ve been going through and reading alot of your posts. I’ve enjoyed all of them and I always love to read about your sons and hear what you have to say about social justice issues, responding with love as a response to adversity and really just all the many varied things you write about. I check back often to see if you’ve written anything new and oftentimes I end up clicking on one of the three posts at the end of the post that have something in common with what I just read. I feel that if I knew you in real life, you would be one of my favorite people. And in regards to this one, my only question is: now that you have welcomed His Esteemed Excellency (LOL) what do you think of how he has been so far as the pope? Would you ever write about his general philosophy on feeding and clothing the poor and hungry, how he’s turned off and shocked most of his base, how he believes that capitalism is evil and that we all need to come together in unity and love? I was just wondering. Take care Rob and keep writing!
Thank you for the kind words! One of the most gratifying things about my adventures as a writer so far has been that in so many cases my “open” letters have gotten to, or close to, the people I am addressing. In the case of this piece, I actually tweeted it to Pope Francis’s tweet address before he became Pope. Did I influence his choices at all? LOL Likely not. That being said, I have been amazed at how much my wish list here has played out with him versus his predecessor. I have hopes that he will do wonderful things. (And one way or the other…he may get another letter!!)
Thanks again for your comment, and I am humbled and pleased that you like what you have read! (PS… for another take on the Pope, you might want to check out the newest article on the blog about the “Slushie Victim”. She apparently has her OWN take on the pope and his role in the world!)
Amazing. You have said everything and more. As a member of a same sex couple with two kids I thank you for your letter it’s inspiring. I may well write myself.
Growing up, my parents sent me to Catholic school for no other reason than everybody in my family went to Catholic school. It’s not that their (or my) beliefs were so resolute that I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else. By the time I reached the third grade, I started questioning everything to the point that the Catholic school and my parents agreed that going to a public high school would be the best option for me. Thank goodness we went that route! I had no idea that I lived in such a bubble! I was exposed to not only other belief systems but a more ethnically diverse, socioeconomically diverse, and culturally diverse populous. I am so grateful for my Catholic school education as it was (in the 1980s-1990s) an excellent education. However, I am more grateful that I had the opportunity at a young age to get exposed to the real world outside of Catholic church.
Now – as a wife, mother, full-time professional, non-profit board president, and much more – I teach my two gorgeous daughters that they can choose to associate with a faith if they want to (I have taken them to so many different services and expect them to make their own decisions) but that the true way to measure a person’s goodness and worth is in how they treat others. It’s in treating people with love and compassion – even those who are hateful and intolerant. We show our goodness and worth by being a friend to anybody that needs one in bad times as well as the good times. We raise our children to have open minds. Nobody is worth more than anybody else. Everybody is entitled to have beliefs, but never sell your own beliefs short. Stick up for the underdog (as we live in the ‘burbs outside of Philadelphia, this applies to Philly-based sports teams as well.)
I guess that this has all paid off because my girls don’t even question why their daddy has two mommies. They don’t question why so many of our friends are in interracial relationships. It doesn’t matter to them that some of their friends are raised by single parents or grandparents or by adopted parents. They have visited the religious youth programs of their friends – and the messages at these programs can vary greatly. They do not care about the differences that can occur from family to family because the differences aren’t important.
…and, according to the tiny Catholic church and school in which I grew up, it’s my family that is going straight to hell. Seems legit.
Absolutely BRILLIANT!!! Read it and hope with me that the Roman Catholic organization also finally pulls their shit together e.g. by saying sorry and restituting for their naughty employees – and that they change for the better, for good!
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Good luck with that. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Thank you for the discussion Matthew. It is difficult to respond to your concerns as you were vague as to what they actually are in your efforts to be derogatory. In any case, I am glad that you found the piece to be unprecedented and “uncalled for” (although, thinking the Catholic’ Church has not called for much more severe criticism than anything I leveled here is nothing short of delusional) and that it gave you “Food for Thought”. That was its intention. If you are under the impression that great aspirations of “placing yourself in higher authority” will tempt you to retorts of ignorance, and not love, and towards feeling superior…I have good news for you…no need to place yourself… you are already halfway there. Thanks for the feedback.
What exactly makes you think this pope is not gay. Do actually think he would admit it. Lets face it , there more likly than not closet gay.. Go ahead and convince me otherwise I dare you.
Wow! This really packs a punch. One has no reason to doubt that a child raised with these principles will be godly and humane. And it wouldn’t hurt too badly either if he takes the suggestions in your letter to heart. It’s touching.
Very well written letter – thanks!!. It really is about time that the RC Church take inventory and realize the world that we are living in today. As mentioned, they really should stay out of people’s lives and stop telling them what they should or shouldn’t be doing because they, clearly, do not have all the right answers. Spending time bashing same sex groups is a waste of time and only causes more tolerant people to resent their Church even more. They should take this new opportunity and evolve, not just remain the staid Church that people seem to have less and less respect for these days.
why do people assume that if gay marriage is legalized, We ALL will automatically be attracted to the same sex, no one will procreate and the world will end. if it did affect the population it might be good because 1. it will control population, we have too many people to begin with. 2. who do u think will want to adopt the orphans, GAYS!, they will love them more than anything because they PLAN to have children unlike some teens and unfit crazies who procreate and live off the government, and 3. maybe we do need to end and start again with this hate in this world.
ignorance! self righteousness! fear! insecurity! all self inflicted all easily overcome with an open mind, but you have to have an open mind and when these characteristics are employed the mind is contracted and solidified against all reason. Its a state of mental hysteria really! thats how much these things affects us. Imagine a doe in the headlights of the reality that her child is gay! or that in some countries being a gay doe will soon be an executable crime! and they fear the destruction of marriage as we know it…70 percent divorce rates dont scare them but more people accessing healthy committed and blessed unions will be the fall of civilization! lol I am selling buckets of sand to the any in the herd who need em!
Wow! This really packs a bit of a punch. One has no reason to doubt, though, that a child raised with these principles will not be godly and humane. And it wouldn’t hurt too badly either if he takes the suggestions in your letter to heart.
Okay, I forgot a bunch of words in my frustration with the previous Pope. The memories are still fresh enough to be disorienting.
I’m a little bit late to the party but I can’t help what the Pope would think of my (future) family. I’m an MTF trans person and ultimately would like to live a lot like to marry a man and have a child or two.
Since neither of us in this scenario would have a womb and both of us were born with some dangly bits, I would suppose the Pope (and most of his followers) would call this a gay marriage, and adoptions therein gay adoptions.
Well, sorry to the Pope, his loss is my gain: I will be an excellent parent and strive to instill the same virtues and morals in my child(ren?) as the writer of this letter.
(If I ended up with a woman instead, would that be a straight marriage to the Pope?)
Instead of people focusing on the “damage” a gay person would cause to a child (they don’t care who mom and dad are), people should focus more on people who are becoming parents and rely on public assistance. These are the people people should target on. I have yet heard of a gay couple on public assistance
Thank you very much for this letter. This was spoken very well. I hope the church actually listens to you.
I am a lesbian mother of 3 I also have an amazing fiancee who lives with myself and kids I was brought up as Roman catholic as are my kids but what they were being taught in school and church made them upset because they know that they are brought up in a loving home by same sex parents they are happy confident individuals so good on u for sending that letter to pope Francis things have to change in the catholic church for the greater good of children who come from same sex parents
Loved this so much that I had to reblog this on my blog about Pakistan. You did really well in pointing out the contradictions in the church’s convictions and its teaching on particular issues. Going to Catholic mass myself that is something I grapple with time and time again. But condemning the whole institution is not the right way ahead. I prefer to point out these contradictions and advocate for change. That’s why I really enjoyed your letter. What a positive approach 🙂
This pope will be equally idiotic as those who came before him. We need for the world to completely outgrow the need for an imaginary friend and take responsibility for the realities we create. There is no evidence for a creator god and abundant evidence for human-made god(s). Let’s deconstruct these ridiculous notions and focus on how we treat each other without regard to race, gender or sexual orientation. The world without religion would be a better world.
Dear Reality Girl,
I am a Cradle Catholic and I love the lord. I’m also a realist and fully acknowledge science as valid (though, not always conclusive) and this being said, there are things that science alone cannot explain…even slightly. What force propels the chemical reactions that produce right brain/left brain thought? What is the force that caused earth to rotate to the east instead of the west to begin with, instead of the other way around? Who was the first person to say “I told you so”? We may never know. But, faith isn’t just the belief that some imaginary transcendental being exists, it’s the belief that there is an answer to these questions. Currently, we (religious peoples) oversimplify them with “it’s God’s will”; much in the same way when [what we know now was probably a virus very similar to whooping cough] killed many children in Egypt…. once upon a time… it was chalked up to the wrath of God and went down in history books as the plague of the firstborns. Through science and with time we have found answers to the why and we have changed how we behave to reflect that. We use soap, we take antibiotics and when necessary we have surgery…some even have robotic organs and limbs. The Catholic Church has also changed with science and with time and must continue to change. Yes, it is taking a long time to catch up; but anything worth doing is worth doing right, and nothing done right is accomplished devoid of reflection. I do believe that there is an intelligent design to the universe and even I doubt that this is the final stage of our development. Until we can all see, accept and appreciate the beautiful differences in each other that enrich this corporeal state of existence we can never hope to evolve any higher than we already have. I respect if you don’t have faith in an almighty anything so I won’t ask that you seek to find clarity in the world through it. I do ask that you have faith in your senses and in humanity. Mahatma Gandhi suggested “be the change you want to see in the world”. Do you really think that belittling the beliefs of others is going to be the first step on the path to finding harmony in any existence and what is the change you will truely be accomplishing through these tactics, that do not burden us already through the same measures? Please, sincerely consider the quandary before writting off the question.
I can answer the “I told you so” part easily enough. I was a Lady. ;p
Science can’t explain those things YET. You have a very short memory or your history lessons are in need of review. So far nothing in that buybull explains the natural world correctly and everything that science has progressed has and it will continue to get better and explain even more. You are living with a 3000 year old staganant POS that does nothing to advance the world. Get over it.
as a gay i appreciate thoughts gretchen. i support the equality of all as i believe you do too, i am a pagan but i can respect and admire any religious person who thinks like you.
Great letter and I am very thankful for it. I am a proud 36 year old who was raised by her gay father and I can say I wouldn’t have it any other way. My father provided me with love and an openmindedness to love all no matter what they are like. Your four points are something that everyone should follow.
Again, thank you!
In order to truly lead a world of followers, the Pope should heed the words of his own faith, “Judge Not, lest ye be judged”, Organized religion is very profitable. You don’t need to donate to a clan who protects pedophiles, takes money from everyone to pay them off once they’ve been flushed out of the protective lairs of your sanctuaries, invest in lucrative businesses while paying no taxes on their profitability, and worship their heirachy as if they are gods, in order to feel spiritually complete. They break all their own rules. The ten commandments were written as a guideline for man to be civil and respectful of each other. Sadly this group has indeed, lost their way in their own flock. They don’t need to dress their self-appointed leaders in gold to see that the world is changing and that in the spirit of love and acceptence, they need to move ahead in the world as it changes all around them. If you can still promote the virtues of your spirituality in an enclosed bulletproof pope mobile, and fly to various events in a private jet – then you have already moved ahead and used new ideas and technological advancements for your own needs. You can also advance and embrace the people who look to you for guidance, buy not pretending to be gods, but by sharing tolerance, love and respect for everyone. Your job is to herd the sheep, not to arbitrarily decide which ones to leave behind.
Reblogged this on Ice-cream in Pakistan and commented:
Okay, this is not directly related to my blog about Pakistan, but firstly it’s really well written and expresses some very important points, secondly it concerns all of humanity, thirdly it’s about religion and since I am Catholic and most people in Pakistan follow one religion or the other I’s say it’s relevant after all.
What an excellent letter! Tolerance is something we should all practice and many religions of the world claim to strive for it – yet we haven’t quite grasped the concept as a global society yet. I am so proud of how you are raising your children, and the world will be a better place with you, your partner, and your children spreading the message to “do good.”
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Great!! I pray he does these things.
But I am having a very hard time with the Pope and all that has gone on in the catholic church. I find it completely inexcusable that in the 20th and 21st centuries, when doctors, teachers, care givers etc. are mandated to report child abuse, the one place you would think it didn’t have to mandated, is instead covered up and accepted. I can only believe that it is accepted because not only has it been covered up, those that have done the abuse have been supported and moved around to continue the abuse. The church wants to judge and condemn homosexuals but they accept, excuse and enable child abusers…disgusting! They need to clean their own house before they start looking in the windows of someone elses house and making judgments. Until the day ALL of the child abusers that still have safety and take solace within the church are brought to justice I cannot even acknowledge that they have ANY standing as a representative of God. Even the ones that have not committed these crimes but remain silent are just as guilty.
One of the very few articles that I loved. Great job. 🙂
I would like to start sending the Pope the letters that Alucard did in the Helsing abridged episode 3. Religious people will never respond to polite asking, they are arrogant and fixed in their ways because they believe they have all the answers and are correct and good in every way. What the DO respond to is fear, viloance, and threats. After all if a child will not stop doing something when you ask, you spank the ever loving crap out of him or her. It is time we as a race start rearing our religions properly.
Hello, Sean. I am a Catholic woman. I am responding to the address in your comment under the category of “religious people.” I am not responding to “fear, viloance, (sic) and threats.” I am willing to answer questions you have, but as a human being I am imperfect, and I don’t know all the answers. I can try to find them, given time. I do not claim the Catholic Church that God intends is exactly as you see it on Earth. It’s a work in progress. However, I don’t see how “we as a race” can “start rearing our religions properly” when we ourselves are imperfect. It is God who is trying to raise people properly through religion.
Your myth is a joke Louise. Get out of your God Delusion.
Your generalizations place you in an equivalent (if not the same) camp as the people you excoriate. I am religious, and your description doesn’t fit me in the least: I am deliberately tolerant, and I cast a wary eye on nearly all “answers” (including your harsh and cruel “answer” to disobedient child–sounds like you need some educating, yourself!).
I always wonder why don’t these leaders attack single parents? They have only one gender raising children. But in their case they are often strapped for time, money, or patience- all of which, whether we want to admit it or not, are necessary for parenting. Blessings on your family.
A heterosexual female who cares, and may I say–very good article, but you are underestimating the guy’s “smarts” and over looking that many of his own roomies are most likely gay.