An Austrian politician has gifted Pope Francis with a rainbow scarf – and called on him to speak up for women’s rights and same-sex marriage.
Ulrike Lunacek, who is head of delegation of the Austrian Greens in the European Parliament and openly lesbian, addressed the head of the Catholic Church in Strasbourg on Tuesday, after he had given a speech in front of Europe’s leaders.
Lunacek, who is also co-president of the European Parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights, handed the symbolic garment to the Pope in front of a crowd of people.
She said: “I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed about the fact that you didn’t address any of the other urgent things inside the church and outside.
“Women’s issues, women’s rights inside the church. Today is the International Day [for the Elimination of] Violence Against Women. I think you should have mentioned something like that.”
Lunacek went on: “It would be great if you had spoken up in favour of same-sex marriage or also for the use of contraceptives, for example, especially in times of HIV and other situations.
“But I didn’t hear that and that was a bit disappointing.”
Seen as more progressive than his predecessors, Pope Francis has previously touched upon the subjects raised by Lunacek, but he has largely remained in line with Church tradition.
While he has said that more should be done to extend the role of women in the Church, Pope Francis has maintained that “with regards to the ordination of women, the Church has spoken and says no... That door is closed”.
The Pope has also adopted a more liberal view on homosexuality than previous Church leaders – but has stopped short of approving same-sex marriage.
He has said: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?” But the Pope has asserted that “matrimony is between a man and a woman”.
Last month Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo read out an interim report at the Synod’s General Congregation, which declared homosexuals had “gifts and qualities to offer” and even raised the prospect of the Catholic Church recognising the positive aspects of same-sex relationships.
However, conservative bishops distanced themselves from the statement and the Church has since said it is simply a "working document" and was not intended to be an official statement of church teaching on family life.
In pictures: 'The many popes of Pope Francis'
In pictures: 'The many popes of Pope Francis'
1/12 The Pro-Gay Pope
In just a year, Pope Francis has managed to change the public perception of the Catholic Church, and the stance it takes on civil issues, like gay rights. Despite originally protesting the legalisation of gay marriage in his native Argentina some years ago, he told reporters this year: “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?”
2/12 The Rebel Pope
No other Pope has urged a shake-up of the Catholic Church quite like Pope Francis, a true rebel of the dioceses. Who, incidentally, used to be a night club bouncer.
3/12 The Graffiti Pope
Pope Francis become... SUPER POPE in this Vatican-approved street art. But was he happy with the reference to the fictional DC comic character?"To depict the pope as a sort of superman, a sort of star, seems offensive to me. The pope is a man who laughs, cries, sleeps tranquilly and has friends like everyone else, a normal person," he said. So, that's a no, then.
4/12 The Biker Pope
Yes, the Pope used to own a Harley Davidson. And yes, he auctioned it off this year and donated the proceeds to a charity that feeds the hungry in Rome. Very Papal.
5/12 The ‘Blue’ Pope
Dropping the 'F' bomb during Sunday service? Classic Pope Francis. Sadly, down to a Spanish-speaking slip of the Italian language rather than pure bad-assery.
6/12 The ‘Because I’m Worth It’ Pope
That awkward moment when your Papal hat blows off, forcing your barnet into Sesame Street-like spikes. Pope Francis has been there.
7/12 The Chocolate Pope
Imagine the Pope's delight (horror?) when he was presented with a giant chocolate replica of himself outside the Vatican by by students on a chocolatier course at the Accademia of Maestri Cioccolatieri, near Venice.
8/12 The Rock Star pope
The one and only religious leader ever to grace the cover of Rolling Stone magazine? Introducing... Pope Francis.
9/12 The People’s Pope
His U-turn attitude towards sexuality won him Time magazine's coveted Person of the Year accolade, and the cover of gay rights magazine The Advocate.
10/12 The Merchandise Pope
Thongs, mugs, onesies, earrings and even a baby mobile adorned with decapitated Pope heads, the 'Francis Effect' has seen sales of Papal merchandise soar by 200% over the last year.
11/12 The Fashion Pope
The only Pope, as far as we're aware, to be compared to fashion royalty (Karl Lagerfeld. Yes way.) and win Esquire's Most Stylish Man of 2013 award, too.
12/12 The Modern Pope
Let it be said, Pope Francis knows a thing or two about social media. He might be a way off 'doing a Dalai' and opting for Instagram, but he's not above posing for the odd 'Selfie' on Twitter.
Pope Francis instead used his platform in front of EU legislators to urge Europe to do more to help migrants arriving on its shores.
He said the continent was becoming “somewhat elderly and haggard” and that the Mediterranean was in danger of tuning into a “vast cemetery” if moves were not taken to tackle the immigration crisis, which every year sees thousands of poor and desperate migrants drowning as they attempt to reach Europe.Reuse content