Honored for his “voice of conscience” and “focus on compassion,” Pope Francis’ unconventional style has revolutionized the way many view the Catholic Church.
In a hopeful reflection, blogger Joseph Amodeo asked in March 2013 if Pope Francis could be the “gay community’s greatest hope.” At the time, many were doubtful given the Pope’s scathing comments against same-sex marriage in Argentina.
Fortunately, Pope Francis’ tenure has been marked by surprising shifts in his stance on LGBTQ identity. In August 2013, he asked a simple, rhetorical question on the topic of gay priests: “Who am I to judge?”
The next month, Pope Francis condemned the Catholic Church’s obsession with homosexuality and abortion, saying Catholics should instead focus on becoming a “home for all.”
While Pope Francis’ impact on the Catholic Church remains to be seen, Edith Windsor has secured her place in history as a beloved LGBTQ advocate.
As the plaintiff in “Windsor vs. USA,” Edith Windsor became a household name in March 2013 when her case against the Defense of Marriage Act was considered by the Supreme Court. After the death of her wife, Thea Spyer, Windsor was charged by the federal government with a $350,000 federal estate tax. This tax would not have been applied to a married heterosexual couple.
In June 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in Windsor’s favor and struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. As a result, same-sex marriages that take place in states with marriage equality are now recognized by the federal government.
Following Time’s announcement, Edith Windsor recognized the work of the entire community to enact progress toward equal rights: “The gay community is my ‘person of the year’ and I look forward to continuing to fight for equal rights and educate the public about our lives alongside my gay brothers and sisters and our allies.”
As legal progress continues to be made toward LGBTQ equality, the recognition of Pope Francis as Time’s Person of the Year is a reminder that shifts in our churches and denominations play a necessary role in our march toward equality.
I maintain hope that Pope Francis will continue to surprise us as he advocates for a more compassionate Catholic Church.