Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, said that it was not for him to judge gay people.
“I have yet to find anyone who has a business card that says he is gay,” he said in response to a question concerning the existence a gay lobbying group at the Vatican. “They say they exist. If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says they should not be marginalized because of this (orientation) but that they must be integrated into society.”
Despite what seems like a revolutionary reversal in doctrine, the pontiff has affirmed Catholic teachings on sexual morality — opposing abortion, contraception and homosexuality. He aligns with the belief that homosexual orientation is not a sin, but that homosexual acts are sinful.
“The problem is not having this orientation. We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worse problem,” the Pope added.
Nevertheless, Father Thomas J. Reece, a senior analyst at the National Catholic Reporter, told NBC that this was a significant event.
“Recently under Pope Benedict there was a move to say that homosexuals could not be priests, that if they were seminarians they should be thrown out,” Reece stated. “I think that Pope Francis is saying something quite different here. Whether youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a homosexual or a heterosexual the question is whether they can live a celibate life. Other things coming out of Rome were quite different, just a few years ago.”
We might agree — when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the Pope addressed the proposal of gay marriage in civil unions as a threat. In the summer of 2010, he wrote:
The Argentine people must face, in the next few weeks, a situation whose result may gravely harm the family. It is the bill on matrimony of persons of the same gender. The identity of the family, and its survival, are in jeopardy here: father, mother, and children. The life of so many children who will be discriminated beforehand due to the lack of human maturity that God willed them to have with a father and a mother is in jeopardy. A clear rejection of the law of God, engraved in our hearts, is in jeopardy. […] Here, the envy of the Devil, through which sin entered the world, is also present, and deceitfully intends to destroy the image of God: man and woman, who receive the mandate to grow, multiply, and conquer the earth. Let us not be naive: it is not a simple political struggle; it is an intention [which is] destructive of the plan of God. It is not a mere legislative project (this is a mere instrument), but rather a “move” of the Father of Lies who wishes to confuse and deceive the children of God.
Then again, it’s not clear whether the Pope considers the existence of gay unions and gay marriage as being any different today. The Church, after all, considers being gay to be acceptable. It’s living that way that is a sin.
Header image by thierry ehrmann.