In yet another groundbreaking move, Pope Francis yesterday Saturday
enjoyed lunch with inmates of an Italian prison – and along the line,
gay and transgender inmates were invited to join.
While on a visit to Naples, Italy, Pope Francis visited the Giuseppe
Salvia Detention Center in Poggiorale, outside of Naples. And even
though it was not on his original schedule, insisted on the visit
including lunch with inmates.
According to the AssociatedPress, around 90 inmates randomly chosen
by lottery, attended the lunch, and that group included 10 inmates from
a section of the prison reserved for gay and
inmates, and inmates who are HIV-positive. In addition to the prison
visit, the pope spoke to residents in Scampia, a neighborhood in Naples,
and encouraged citizens to resist the “easy earnings or dishonest
income” of the Mafia and the drug trafficking trade.
Since assuming the papacy in 2013, Francis has worked to shift the
tone of the Catholic Church’s message toward gays and lesbians to be
more progressive. In 2013, the pope famously said “Who am I to judge?”
when discussing LGBT members of the Catholic community. Recently, gay
Catholics were given seats at Pope Francis’ weekly general audience. And
earlier this year, a Spanish transgender man said he had a meeting with
the pope – a first for the pontiff.
However, while the pope seems to be taking small steps toward
welcoming the church’s LGBT members, Francis has still reaffirmed his
support for “traditional” marriage. In January, on a visit to the
Phillipines, he remarked that “powerful forces” threaten to “disfigure
God’s plan for creation.” Many people interpreted these remarks to be a
reference to same-sex marriage.