Since the news first broke of a planned meeting of Pope Francis with a Paraguayan married gay Catholic activist, I’vs been able to dig a little deeper into the matter, with the help of the Somosgay website, my very inadequate Spanish – and some internet/ crowdsourcing translation.
From the Somosgay report, it seems that this is not a one – to one meeting between Simón Cazal, and the pope- he will simply be one of many on a guest list representing many branches of civil society. This does not necessarily diminish its importance: Somosgay notes that the symbolic value alone, of being recognized as having an important impact on Paraguayan society, is valuable. On the other hand, they also expressed a hope that the lasting impact of the visit will be more than the merely symbolic.
For the full Somosgay response (in Spanish), go to their website. For an English translation, see my (crude) attempt below, based on a combination of Google translate, some knowledge of English grammar and syntax and crowdsourcing help from the linguistic community at Dyuolingo. (Anyone with better Spanish skills than I, is invited to improve my first stab, at Duolingo
The current best translation available, I present below:ay
SOMOSGAY will meet with Pope Francis during his visit to Paraguay
Simon Cazal, in his role as co-founder and CEO of SOMOSGAY has been invited by the Paraguay Episcopal Conference, through the Organising Committee for the Visit of His Holiness Pope Francisco, to participate in the meeting with Pope Francis recognizing the high impact the organization has in Paraguayan society. This meeting will take place on July 11 at the Lion Condou Stadium at 16:30 pm.
This meeting, which is expected to draw together representatives of civil society, symbolizes openness and progress towards the LGBT community, remembering always the ultraconservative context that has (previously) characterized the Vatican.
While in 2013, during a press conference at the Vatican Pope Francis said “If a person is gay, seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” the positions of the hierarchy of the church has been at various times, inconsistent.
In spite of this, SOMOSGAY see this as a positive approach. In consultation with our broad social base, it has given us to respond in the same terms of openness to dialogue and promotion of a democratic culture of inclusion. We believe that in a country like Paraguay, already badly damaged by the disruption and confrontation, it is necessary to launch a broader process of dialogue that recognizes the diversity of positions and the different views we hold. In that regard, we hope that this gesture transcends symbolism and brings with it more substantial progress in the current positions of the Paraguayan Catholic hierarchy.
SOMOSGAY reaffirms that there is no contradiction between holding the Catholic faith and support the claims of the LGBT movement. The recent case of Ireland where more than 60% of its population, mainly Catholic, voted in favor of a constitutional change to ensure marriage equality and full legal recognition of homo families.
From this SOMOSGAY recognizes that this symbolic event begins to repair the damage to some extent the rhetoric local sectors of the hierarchy have caused for all these years. It is not a minor fact for the terms of the invitation to recognize the impact that our organization has achieved in society. We are also aware of the long way still to go. We understand that cultural change takes time and that is why we recognize the barriers that our culture has to establish a reality that churches stop discriminating against gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans.
Finally, we reaffirm our position on the importance of strengthening the full exercise of Lay Paraguayan State respectful of freedoms and promoting equality. We will continue to work tirelessly in that direction. We need attention to pressing issues in health, education and access to decent work, areas where the state remains absent and needs strengthening.
SOMOSGAY continues to promote the democratic construction of a culture of dialogue, contributing to a diverse, plural Paraguayan society, peaceful and inclusive, with full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and their families; in their homes, their schools, their workplaces and recreation.