Another Vatican PR disaster? Pope Francis wears ‘rainbow’ cross during Youth Synod
VATICAN CITY, Italy, October 19, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis' Vatican invited another public relations debacle Wednesday when photos came out in Vatican News of the Pope wearing what many thought to be a "Pride" cross decorated in the colors of the rainbow.
The rainbow cross promptly garnered reaction on social media as a nudge-and-a-wink endorsement of the LGBT movement.
There exists an explanation for a non-LGBT origin of the rainbow cross, and its colors don’t precisely resemble those of the gay “pride” rainbows used by the LGBT movement.
Young people from Panama and some Latin American Synod fathers presented the multi-colored cross for World Youth Day 2019 to Francis, according to a tweet in Italian from the Holy See’s Vatican News service. Other bishops in the photos with Francis are wearing the rainbow cross as well.
“The Holy Father greeted them with joy and blessed them,” the tweet stated.
Giovani di #Panama assieme a molti padri sinodali latinoamericani hanno consegnato a #PapaFrancesco la croce della GMG. Il Santo Padre li ha salutati con gioia e li ha benedetti. @paoloruffini2 @GregBurkeRome @AGisotti pic.twitter.com/Aj0tt2VsCz— Vatican News (@vaticannews_it) October 17, 2018
Still, some Catholics say there’s no other way to read the message conveyed by the pope showing up in official Vatican photos wearing a rainbow cross.
English theologian and author Adrian Hilton questioned outright on Twitter whether the rainbow cross would be considered as a show of LGBT support on the part of Francis.
The bloggers at Creative Minority Report (CMR) said it doesn’t matter whether the pope wearing the rainbow cross was an intentional pro-gay message, because it would be taken as such either way.
“If they meant it as a gay symbol, they are unfit for office and should resign,” CMR said. “If they didn't mean it, they are too stupid for words, unfit for office and should resign.”
If they meant it as a gay symbol, they are unfit for office and should resign.— Creative Minority (@CMReport) October 18, 2018
If they didn't mean it, they are too stupid for words, unfit for office and should resign.
OnePeterFive Founding Publisher Steve Skojec noted that the read on the rainbow cross would be an automatic gay-rights thumbs-up as well.
“If you're seeing people explain how the rainbow World Youth Day Cross isn't about LGBT that's because everyone automatically thinks it's about LGBT,” Skojec said. “Nobody needs to explain something that's obvious. And the people who made the cross know it.”
The cross was developed by CELAM (the umbrella group for the Latin American Bishops’ Conferences) and came from the organizers of WYD 2019 in Panama; its colors each represent a region within CELAM’s ministry.
This fact notwithstanding, what jumped out most obviously was the rainbow colors – the commonly recognized symbol used by the LGBT movement. Additionally at issue is that the rainbow is on a cross, which, certainly when worn by a pope, should symbolize Christ’s sacrifice for sinners through His Passion, death and resurrection.
The photo of Francis wearing the rainbow cross was also provocative given its timing amid widespread apprehension that the Youth Synod is being used to advance the normalization of homosexuality within the Church. For the first time in a Vatican document, the term “LGBTQ” has been included in the Youth Synod working document. Small groups within the Youth Synod have already called for the Church to recognize “other forms of family” and to pay more attention to homosexuals and the “realities” they face, specifically mentioning “marriage,” surrogate pregnancy, and adoption.
Some on social media fixed on the cross being from CELAM and its rainbow look differing from that of a gay “pride,” some also saying that the gay “pride” rainbow is not as recognized in some Latin American countries.
Responding on Twitter to some of these protestations, Catholic author Stefani Nicholas said, “I disagree.”
“It’s not about the rainbow cross,” Nicholas said. “It’s about the sum of his actions as Pope, and how this is just example #75738388383 of his total lack of care for the scandal these “misinterpretations” cause…”
I disagree. It’s not about the rainbow cross. It’s about the sum of his actions as Pope, and how this is just example #75738388383 of his total lack of care for the scandal these “misinterpretations” cause. https://t.co/NXKmIIL5si— Stefanie Nicholas ☩ (@StefMNicholas) October 18, 2018
English blogger Laurence England jested about the idea the rainbow cross could be explained away as anything other than heralding the Church’s reported clandestine lavender network.
England tweeted, “Pope Francis: Nobody who works here wears gay lobby ID badg- Delivery Man: Your bulk order of rainbow-coloured 'I'm in the gay lobby' badges has arrived, Your Holiness! Pope Francis: Mgr Ricca, will you sign for this? I'm busy...”.
Pope Francis: Nobody who works here wears gay lobby ID badg-— Laurence England (@TheCrushedBones) October 17, 2018
Delivery Man: Your bulk order of rainbow-coloured 'I'm in the gay lobby' badges has arrived, Your Holiness!
Pope Francis: Mgr Ricca, will you sign for this? I'm busy... https://t.co/RqyckilFWK
Francis wore the rainbow cross alongside his pectoral cross, one of the symbols of a bishop’s office, which is “distinctive of the Order of Bishop, the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders.”
Vatican PR blunders
The pope’s PR team, whether the Vatican Press Office or the Secretariat for Communications, has stumbled more than once in the past, at times walking gaffes back, other times leaving them up in the air.
This occurred quite notably last month by the release of a photo with the smiling faces of Francis and USCCB leadership captured during what was an emergency meeting in Rome on the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the U.S.
The photo raised the question of just how seriously the Church hierarchy takes the sex abuse scandal.
Further, regarding any possible misinterpretation of the rainbow cross hanging Wednesday from Francis’ neck, some Catholics say his pontificate has used up its allowance for possible misunderstandings of its communications.
The Francis pontificate has seen continually mixed messages on the faith, not the least of which was the pope's pronouncing the infamous “Who am I to judge?” quip now ubiquitous in being wielded to justify homosexual activity.
Francis also sent a troubling signal in 2015 when he accepted a Communist Hammer and Sickle morphed to a crucifix from his friend Bolivian President Evo Morales.
Francis caused similar consternation at the Youth Synod’s opening Mass October 3 when, rather than a traditional papal ferula, a metal rod topped by a cross, symbolizing papal authority, he instead presided over the Mass with forked bamboo-looking staff, minus the cross. While the claim was made that the staff was a gift from youth for use at the Synod, it strongly resembled a Stang, or Wiccan forked staff.