Hope From The Pope: Making A Truth-Filled Mess, Judgement Free

by delfin w. bautista

As I sit at my gate waiting for the flight to the US at the end of a transformative week at World Youth Day in Rio, I have been reflecting on the various messages we have received from the pope: live your truth, make a mess, and who am I to judge. This week has been incredible and I know that insights will continue to be sparked with each look back today, next week, 2 months from now, 10 years from now. 

Sitting in an airport contemplating the significance of the pope’s comments made in an airport is a delightful experience.

His final words, “who I am to judge,” are the ones that I am wrestling with. Is he simply restating the church’s traditional stance but changing the focus from disordered to no marginalization? Or is it a glimpse or glimmer, however small, of hope-filled transformation that is happening within all levels of the church?  

Maybe he got one of our Equally Blessed stickers or prayer cards; maybe it’s a sign that the spirit is moving. Maybe and hopefully both—I could see it now, the pope wearing a “I am Equally Blessed” sticker on his white robes!

Perhaps it is not the radical statement many of us had yearned for, but it does offer this tired pilgrim some hope that ripples and transformations are happening.  The witness we as a queer and lgbt pilgrim group did at WYD along with the work of millions around the world who live at the intersections of faith and sexuality is truly having an impact—seeds have been planted and are being planted that will blossom in ways that we can’t yet imagine.

It’s a slow process, yes, but the pope’s words show that we are in a process.

This process was and is very much alive in the people we met and the ones we’ve touched that we are not aware of (people who saw us or who will receive our rainbow swag through their family and friends).  The thumbs up, requests for more stickers, conversations that offered a safe space to ask questions, the comments on facebook and the blog…all of this reflects that the process is thriving and that transformation IS happening throughout the church. 

Looking at the three papal phrases that resonated with me, I realize that the pope has perhaps subversively blessed and invited us to live our truth by making a mess so that more and more people can live a life that is judgment free.  The statement itself has caused a mess of people wrestling with the truth embedded and behind the words. If we truly believe that we are the church, then all of us together must continue to make sure that no one is marginalized and that all people are integrated as equally blessed.

We cannot proclaim that “we are church” and then expect the pope to do and say everything.

It takes a village, and in our case a church, to live into new wholizing ways of celebrating all. We must continue to live our messy truths. His statement may not be the radical pronouncement we have been waiting for to come from a pope, but for all of us who have been broken by the church’s teaching on homosexuality or lack of recognition of trans people, hopefully this blurp from Francis offers a tiny nugget of healing hope to hold onto. I will take what I can get!  

The radicalness is not in his actual words about homosexuality and priesthood/ordination, but in the fact that he said something that had sparked a stirring in all of us. We must continue to do our part: going on future WYD pilgrimages, writing letters to for media outlets, speaking with church folk at all levels, offering education and educating ourselves, creating safer spaces throughout our communities for honest conversation, and trusting that the Spirit will ripple the impact throughout the church.  

We are church and together as church we must live into the challenge of sharing the message that all are equally blessed truly means all are equally blessed. With this new truthful mess birthed at WYD, we must remain committed to troubling the waters, asking questions at catechesis sessions, having conversations at unexpected moments, lifting up prayers that celebrate all people—all while knowing that GOD is doing Her part with and through the pope, bishops, clergy, religious, and US!

The pope’s words taken all together—make a mess, live your truth, and who am I to judge—offer hope.

Perhaps at the next World Youth Day in Poland, Equally Blessed pilgrims can share their messy truths without having to justify who we are and why we are there—we can simply be. I thank GOD for this inkling of hope, however small, found in the pope’s words. What truly has filled my soul with passionate “oomph” to continue in la lucha of radical inclusive discipleship, is knowing that the wholeness that was rebirthed at WYD did not only stem from the pope but permeated and thrived in all of the interactions, hugs, cheers, smiles, and conversations has throughout this week.

We are church and as a church we will continue to embody truth-making messes and live into messy truths that proclaim that no one is to be judged because we are all equally blessed! Amen, que asi sea!!! 

Originally posted at Equally Blessed