Although the pope did not suddenly change the church's view that LGBTQ people should remain celibate, whether as priests or as lay people, he did tell Christians around the world that it's time to live up to the highest values of the faith rather than descend to base disrespect for human beings.
While researching media reaction to Pope Francis' recent call for a "deep theology of women in the Church," I came across several pieces that got me thinking instead about the pope's comments on gays.
Who exactly is not being judged here? Gay Vatican bureaucrats, gay priests, or gays, period? And does it really matter? At the risk of being a nitpicking professor, trained in the close-reading habits of a literary scholar, I would argue that it does matter.
To be sure, Popes do not change doctrine in off-the-cuff airplane interviews. The Catechism remains today as it was yesterday -- equal parts condemnation and conciliation. But something has changed, decisively so. And that is tone.
Pope Francis has had a busy week at World Youth Day in Rio as he visited his slums and prisons, blessed the Olympic flag and brought three million people to Copacabana Beach for a final Mass on Sunday morning.
A "gay lobby" at the Vatican? My first reaction to the leaking of the words of Pope Francis was, "If this Vatican 'gay lobby' is supposed to be working for me and the LGBT movement, we ought to fire them immediately!"
Pope Francis allegedly said that the Vatican is filled with gays, with queer networks and with a culture of granting professional favors to each other. Yet the pope has decided to clean up his shop. He is quoted as saying, "the carnival is over."
As a gay man and an Episcopal priest, I'm frankly extremely confused by the Vatican when it comes to the entire gay question. Am I loved by anybody there?