How Will Francis Handle Uganda?

Michael O’Loughlin challenges the Pope to stand up to bishops supporting anti-gay laws in Africa:

Violence and discrimination against gays and lesbians around the world is very real and, in places, growing. From Nigeria to Uganda to Russia, efforts to codify rampant homophobia and lend legitimacy to the mobs that torment sexual minorities have widespread backing. That some Catholic bishops support these laws seems anathema to the Gospel that they are supposed to uphold, their critics argue, in particular to the central tenets of acceptance and kindness — a stance to which the pope seemed to lend his support in much-lauded comments last year.

Why, then, won’t Pope Francis speak out more directly against political leaders like [Nigerian President Goodluck] Jonathan and against his own bishops who support draconian treatment of gay people? Some say failing to do so threatens to derail his conciliatory image, hinged on engaging in dialogue with a changing world. As Bob Shine of New Ways Ministry, which advocates for LGBT Catholics, wrote in late March, “It is time for Pope Francis to speak out clearly and forcefully against Uganda’s law, and other similar anti-gay laws around the globe. He can save lives.”

Matt Ford argues that “the pope may have to confront growing homophobia in Uganda, whether or not he travels there”:

The pontiff’s tenure, now in its second year, has so far been characterized by two themes: greater compassion on social issues in the developed world, and greater outreach to and inclusion of the developing world. Until now, these goals have rarely clashed. How he bridges the divide between the two in Uganda, if he chooses to try, will be one of the great challenges of his papacy.