The Vatican announced yesterday that Pope Francis will canonize two of his predecessors -- Pope John Paul II, a much-beloved but intensely conservative pontiff, and Pope John XXIII, the reformer who convened the Second Vatican Council -- on April 27, 2014.
Despite his notorious homophobia, John Paul II was much beloved in his lifetime, even by Catholics of my Millennial generation (the most pro-LGBT generation in history). Yet JPII's anti-LGBT bigotry is indisputable. It was during his papacy, for example, that the Vatican issued a pastoral letter called Homosexualitatis problema (the translation there is pretty clear) that infamously characterized same-sex sexual acts as "evil":
"Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.
"Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not."
John Paul echoed those words in his 2005 book Memory and Identity, where he called same-sex marriage an attack on the family. Referring to the push for marriage equality that was beginning to sweep Europe, the pope wrote, "It is legitimate and necessary to ask oneself if this is not perhaps part of a new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden, which attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man."
He also said that marriage equality is tantamount to an attack on society and culture:
"Today the family is often threatened by social and cultural pressures that tend to undermine its stability; but in some countries the family is also threatened by legislation which at times directly challenge its natural structure, which is and must necessarily be that of a union between a man and a woman founded on marriage. Family must never be undermined by laws based on a narrow and unnatural vision of man."