Our store was stuffed with statues of Mary, the baby Jesus and all the saints, crucifixes, rosaries, unblessed hosts (those little wafers that Catholics consider to be the body of Jesus when blessed by a priest), altars, pews, chalices and whatever else a Catholic church would need. My brothers and I spent years working in the family business. As a young girl, one of my favorites things was to be sent to the back storage room to get things for my father. He kept the room locked because he stored his Playboy collection in that room.
It took me until I was in my '40s to come out as a lesbian. A controlling father, my deep need to be loved by him and my indoctrination into the church's lessons of punishment and hell scared me to death for years and kept me from coming out. Instead I did all the good Catholic girl things. I got married to someone my father approved of and stayed married for years even though I always knew I was attracted to women.
I broke from the Catholic church when I left home at 18. I broke from religion and its judgments about hell and lesbians in my early '40s. Realizing no one could love me unless I loved myself honestly only came to me after I walked away from religion.
I've watched the Pope story from an emotional distance. The new guy in charge at the Vatican isn't going to take an innovative and radical approach to gays and lesbians. If you think that, you're missing the obvious. Pope Francis has been opposed to same-sex marriage and gay adoption even in the face of seeing his own country, Argentina, embrace and legalize them both.
I've yet to understand how one can be gay or lesbian and be a practicing Catholic. Perhaps I don't need to understand what motivates someone to stay in a church that preaches "you are going to hell because of who you love." Ultimately, I believe we are all here to grow in our understanding and experience of love. God is love. Every religion will tell you this. Maybe the Catholic church still exists today because it is creating a demarcation for what is love and what is not love.
I am lesbian; God created me lesbian; everything God does is good; God cannot do anything evil, bad or wrong; therefore, I am good. Being lesbian is good; the Pope is wrong; God made Pope Francis; the Pope is good, too; God is not Catholic or lesbian; therefore; all is good in my world. What about yours?