Philadelphia Daily News Jenice Armstrong columnOctober 5, 2015 5:01pm

Oct. 05--TRACY BOYD has a longtime female partner whom she intends to marry.

Seven months ago, Boyd found herself so moved by Pope Francis that she painted an impressive, impressionistic portrait of the pontiff, which she plans to donate to her alma mater, Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School.

The school near North Wales, Montgomery County, is run by the same order of nuns that fired a popular lesbian teacher from Waldron Mercy Academy in Merion Station in June after complaints were made about her marriage to a woman.

Boyd, who graduated from Gwynedd in 1985, could sell the portrait, but she'd rather give it to her school.

"I see it as a way to reach out to younger people and also remind people that no one of us is perfect," she told me last week. "It's not about hate. It's about being positive."

She and other Catholic members of the LGBT community with whom I've spoken recently express similar sentiments. That includes Margie Winters, the lesbian teacher fired from Waldron.

If I were among them, I'm not sure I could be so calm about the church's gay-marriage stance. I said as much to Winters, who told me, "You have to take things in stride . . . You have to look at the whole context."

She was referring, of course, to last week's surprising revelation that Pope Francis had had a previously undisclosed face-to-face with Kim Davis, the controversial Kentucky clerk who went to jail after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The widely publicized case sparked sharp divisions, with various factions taking sides in our never-ending culture wars. So, when word came out that the pontiff actually had exchanged words with Davis during his visit, many saw it as an endorsement of Davis' anti-gay marriage stance.

The Catholic LGBT blogosphere lit up with people expressing disappointment.

Many had been on a high following Francis' history-making visit, optimistic that the pontiff's comments -- "If someone is gay and searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?" -- heralded a new era in the Catholic Church.

The meeting between the pope and Davis produced a lot of noise, but in fairness we don't yet know enough to judge it.

"The pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis, and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects," explained the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman.

The Vatican also distributed footage of Pope Francis having a private audience with Yayo Grassi, an openly gay former student of his who brought along his male partner.

Then, on Saturday, word came that the Vatican had fired a Catholic priest in Rome, Krzysztof Charamsa, who had come out as gay.

Charamsa, who had worked in the Vatican's doctrine office, said in newspaper interviews in Italy and Poland that he was proud to be a homosexual priest.

He did it on the eve of a big meeting of the world's bishops to discuss church outreach to gays, divorcees and more traditional Catholic families.

Then yesterday the pope opened that three-week gathering by declaring during a homily that marriage is a bond between a man and a woman. But he also added that the church needs to "seek out and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy."

That's a lot of turmoil.

On Friday, I asked the artist Boyd whether she had any qualms about donating her artwork.

"I really see it as a lot of good is going to come out of this," she said. "The subject is going to come to the forefront."

- The Associated Press

contributed to this report.

On Twitter: @JeniceArmstrong

Blog: ph.ly/HeyJen

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