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Scott P. Richert

Pope Francis on Homosexuality: Take a Deep Breath . . .

By July 30, 2013

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Shortly after Pope Francis was elected, the Vatican had to make clear that only the prepared remarks of the Holy Father should be considered authoritative. Pope Francis, you see, had a tendency—vexing or delightful, depending on your viewpoint—to go "off message," to depart from carefully prepared texts and to say whatever happened to be on his mind at the moment.

Several weeks ago, what happened to be on the Holy Father's mind was the long-rumored "gay lobby" in the Curia. Italian news reports in the days leading up to the papal conclave in March had claimed that Pope Benedict XVI had been so concerned about the influence of such a lobby that he had created a commission of three cardinals to investigate it. (See The Pope Resigns: The Rest of the Story? for more details.) And now here was Benedict's successor, for all intents and purposes, confirming the reports. Vatican functionaries groaned; "conservative" Catholics cheered; traditionalist Catholics who had been upset at the election of Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio saw, for the first time, a little glimmer of hope in Francis's acknowledgment of possible corruption in the Curia.

The picture is very different today, after Pope Francis's impromptu press conference on his flight back from the World Youth Day activities in Brazil. While the Holy Father answered questions in Italian and Spanish for an hour and 20 minutes, the only thing that anyone seems to have been interested in is his final answer—and then, not even the entirety of the answer, much less the question which Pope Francis addressed.

Most of the headlines in the press, secular and Catholic, were a variant on the one found at the top of the BBC's report on the interview: "Pope Francis: Who am I to judge gay people?" If one read only the headlines and the opening paragraphs of most articles, one could be excused for thinking that the Holy Father had reversed 2,000 years of Catholic teaching regarding the immorality of homosexual activity. Indeed, one could read the full text of many of the articles and come away with that same impression.

Of course, the Holy Father did no such thing, as the most complete transcripts of his remarks make clear. (The best transcript I have seen so far comes from Andrea Tornielli in Vatican Insider. My thanks to Tom Piatak for pointing it out to me.)

We need to start with the questions that were asked, and the context in which they were asked. At the very end of the interview, a reporter asked two questions, the first about claims that Msgr. Battista Ricca, whom Pope Francis had chosen to head up the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR; more commonly known as the Vatican Bank), had engaged in homosexual activity years ago while stationed in Paraguay. The Holy Father replied (in Tornielli's transcription and translation):

I have acted in accordance with Canon Law and ordered an investigation. None of the accusations against him have proved to be true. We haven’t found anything! It is often the case in the Church that people try to dig up sins committed during a person’s youth and then publish them. We are not talking about crimes or offences such as child abuse which is a whole different matter, we are talking about sins. If a lay person, a priest or a nun commits a sin and then repents of it and confesses, the Lord forgives and forgets. And we have no right not to forget, because then we risk the Lord not forgetting our own sins. I often think of St. Peter who committed the biggest sin of all, he denied Jesus. And yet he was appointed Pope. But I repeat, we have found no evidence against Mgr. Ricca.

The final question concerned the Holy Father's confirmation of the presence of a "gay lobby" in the Curia. Very few reports (the BBC's report is a notable exception) have mentioned that context, nor have they printed Pope Francis's response in its entirety. As the BBC notes, the Holy Father referred to the teachings in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which explains "that homosexual acts were sinful, but homosexual orientation was not," while addressing the "gay lobby" and the question of homosexual clergy in the Vatican (not homosexuals generally). The following text, once again, is Andrea Tornielli's transcription and translation:

There is so much being written about the gay lobby. I haven’t met anyone in the Vatican yet who has “gay” written on their identity cards. There is a distinction between being gay, being this way inclined and lobbying. Lobbies are not good. If a gay person is in eager search of God, who am I to judge them? The Catholic Church teaches that gay people should not be discriminated against; they should be made to feel welcome. Being gay is not the problem, lobbying is the problem and this goes for any type of lobby, business lobbies, political lobbies and Masonic lobbies.

Taken in context, it's clear that the single line quoted in every story (to use the BBC's translation, "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge them?") is, when printed by itself, highly misleading. Pope Francis did not dismiss, much less justify, homosexual activity; he spoke of men with homosexual desires who have already been ordained and are "in eager search of God"—men, moreover, who are not engaged in lobbying on behalf of their disordered affections.

For anyone who has followed Pope Francis's public statements since his election, this all simply makes sense. The Holy Father does not believe that one can "seek God" by obstinately engaging in immoral activity; one seeks God by, among other things, living a chaste life. Report after report contrasted Pope Francis's remarks with Pope Benedict's 2005 order that men with deep-seated homosexual inclinations should not be ordained priests, but nothing that Pope Francis said indicates that he disagrees with his predecessor on this point or that he intends to change this discipline. He was speaking of men who are already ordained, not those who are in seminary today, much less homosexuals in general, active or chaste. To the extent that his remarks can be generalized to the entire homosexual population, they are a call for those whose particular temptation is same-sex attraction to seek God, by (among other things) avoiding sexual sin.

The most ridiculous part of this media frenzy is that Pope Francis's remarks are no different from remarks that Pope Benedict himself made many times during his pontificate, remarks that simply reflect (as the Holy Father noted) the teachings of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Like the media circus in 2010 over Pope Benedict's remarks on condoms (see Pope Benedict and Condoms: What He Did and Did Not Say), this sudden "controversy" tells us more about the sexual obsessions of modern man—and the willingness of the media, both secular and Catholic, to play to those obsessions—than it does about Pope Francis.

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Comments
July 30, 2013 at 3:57 pm
(1) MEM says:

I don’t get it. I thought within Catholic teaching that sex outside of marriage is a sin – period. Doesn’t matter if the person is homosexual, heterosexual or anything in between. Did I miss something?

July 30, 2013 at 4:09 pm
(2) Richard L Harrell says:

Sex outside of marriage is a sin. The Pope was not saying otherwise.
What he did say was that if someone is homosexual, and trying to live for and obey Jesus Christ and His teachings, that person should be encouraged to do so, and not condemned as a person. Of course if he, like anyone else, commits sin, let alone mortal sin, that person needs to correct themselves and confess their sin and return to The Lord. The Pope is not suggesting that sin is not sin. He is just asking to let the sinner who is trying to find the right way to live to have the encouragement to do that.

July 30, 2013 at 4:15 pm
(3) MJK says:

“Lord forgives and forgets. And we have no right not to forget, because then we risk the Lord not forgetting our own sins…”

We have no “right” not to forget. Really? Why use this rights language nonsense — what about duty, obligation, or expectation. When did bestowing divine forgiveness become a collective or communal expectation. God forgives and forgets; man is not divine; he may struggle to forgive imperfectly and no doubt rarely forgets transgressions all the time…sometimes, may be not in this specific instances, what seems to be considered expectation is really acts of supererogation.

Also, Scott you are an excellent interpreter of some of what the pope says or writes, but often times it would be nice if he was far less nuanced in his communication.

All the best!

July 30, 2013 at 4:34 pm
(4) Lenny says:

I think this pope is going in the right direction—admitting that there are gay priest, good gay priest searching for the Lord and doing His work. The pope knows, that a majority of the clergy is gay, and not to ordain future gay men as priest will be harmful to the future of the church. The pope also should be considering a married clergy also.
I do not think, that homosexuality is a immoral disorder, cause God made homosexuals like everyone else, in his image, and God makes no mistakes. If God gave us our sexuality as part of our nature of being homosexual, it would be cruel of Him to forbid us not to form committed relationships, or unions with other. We can’t all be called to be priests, monks or nuns to vow chastity—thats a chosen vocation.
Im glad this pope is going to shake up the church and try to bring it into the 21st century.

July 30, 2013 at 4:34 pm
(5) Scott P. Richert says:

MEM, it’s rather disheartening to write somewhere in excess of 1,000 words trying to set the record straight on what Pope Francis said, and what the context was, and then to have the first comment make it clear that the commenter did not read the piece before commenting.

July 30, 2013 at 4:41 pm
(6) Scott P. Richert says:

Lenny, as I made clear in the article, Pope Francis said nothing that suggests that he subscribes to your understanding of homosexual activity.

God made man in His image, and He made man and woman. Carnal desire results from the Fall. Taming that desire is necessary for all of us; and part of taming it is ordering it properly. That is what the Catechism means when it says that homosexual desire is intrinsically disordered: It is not aimed at the proper object, which, for a man, is woman, and for a woman is man.

July 30, 2013 at 4:47 pm
(7) Scott P. Richert says:

Michael, I’m not sure how you got from this:

“Lord forgives and forgets. And we have no right not to forget, because then we risk the Lord not forgetting our own sins…”

to this:

“When did bestowing divine forgiveness become a collective or communal expectation.”

Nothing in Pope Francis’s statement indicates that can, let alone must, “bestow divine forgiveness.” That’s for God alone to do. But as you implicitly admit in the rest of your remark, we are called to forgive, even if we do it imperfectly. And remembrance of wrongs, as St. John Climacus (no user of modern “rights” language he) wrote so well and truly, harms no one but ourselves.

July 30, 2013 at 4:49 pm
(8) JMJ says:

“Lord forgives and forgets. And we have no right not to forget, because then we risk the Lord not forgetting our own sins…”

We have no right not to forget????????????????????
Is this scripitural?
I’m risking Jesus not forgetting my sins because I forgive someone but I can’t forget what they did not when it’s life long. A woman conceives and bears a son out of rape. She can forgive the rapist but certainly will never forget the deed done. A child is sexually abused again can forgive the person but forget?!? And what now— they have to live with Jesus not forgetting their own sins even though I’ve gone to confession and are trying to live a holy life? Great just great.

July 30, 2013 at 4:58 pm
(9) Scott P. Richert says:

JMJ, Pope Francis said nothing new in that remark. You might find this post on “remembrance of wrongs” useful: Almost Wordless Wednesday: The Sunset of Wrath.

July 30, 2013 at 5:04 pm
(10) sieng says:

Watch the interview video with English subtitles.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ZDCPEjnKuco

July 30, 2013 at 5:07 pm
(11) trish says:

I find the title of your article today rather insulting. “Take a deep breath”? Why? Because the Pope made a comment stating that gay people should be treated like anyone else? You can proselytize all you want about the context and yet you spent so many words trying to interpret the Pope’s message which you interpret one way and state it was not scripted and how he went “off message”. As an adult, I can interpret his words. As a Catholic, I have been taught to treat people as HUMAN, without labels, period. I believe gay people are just as valuable and deserving of human rights as heterosexuals because as a Catholic I have been taught to love all unconditionally and to fight for those who are treated with inequality. Believing in this makes me no less of a Catholic than others and I admire the Pope for being so candid in his remarks, “off message” or not. I do not want a Pope who is scripted. Why not allow him to speak without analysizing and writing an article about it?

July 30, 2013 at 5:20 pm
(12) rebecca says:

Please read Jesus’s message given to Christina Gallegher regarding same sex marriage.

http://www.christinagallagher.org/en/

GOD Bless You All

July 30, 2013 at 5:21 pm
(13) JJ says:

God made homosexuals. He also made thieves. That does not mean that homosexual acts or stealing is not sinful or immoral. If Lemmy is a Christian and believes in the Bible as the word of God he should read the Book of Leviticus 18:22, which says “You shall not commit sexual acts with a male, in place of sexual intercourse with a female, for this is an abormination”.

What the Pope is saying is that if a gay person repents God will forgive him, just like He forgives any other sinner that repents.

July 30, 2013 at 5:41 pm
(14) Sofia Gutierrez says:

“dissordered affectiions” , these are the writers words, and should be carefully looked at, for the Pope did speak of “affections” as being human, not dissordered. The way this was written is exactly what the Pope spoke about and was warning us against. There is no reading-between-the lines here, he spoke clearly when he said “Who am I to judge people?”

July 30, 2013 at 5:42 pm
(15) tina a says:

Oh Scott I am happy for two (at least!) things about you: you write so clearly and accurately about our faith; and YOU get to answer the commenters! God bless your heart.
You hit the nail on the head about the media being obsessed with all things sexual. They refuse to ” get it” that ALL our popes are Catholic and follow Catholic teaching. They insist on trying to twist any pope’s words to support their own secular agenda. But I thought of this in a new way after hearing Fr Patalinghug say today that it proves – regardless of what”the world” says – that the world CARES what the Church has to say…what it thinks… This seems to me to be true. And very promising. For all their bluster about the Church being irrelevant “they” care what the Church has to say! They are listening albeit not yet hearing. I am encouraged to keep spreading the Good News.

July 30, 2013 at 5:47 pm
(16) Michelle says:

Rebecca, where is it exactly? The page has a lot of messages and info

July 30, 2013 at 5:50 pm
(17) Louise says:

God made man in his own image regarding the spirit. We are spirit beings in a physical body. God is not a man with a particular sexual orientation sitting on a cloud- He is spirit!

July 30, 2013 at 5:58 pm
(18) Lionel (Paris) says:

Excellent item! Bravo!
Congratulation LD

July 30, 2013 at 6:59 pm
(19) Kirt Higdon says:

Very good commentary which gives the context. It’s a shame that the media is only interested in taken from context sound bites which are sensationalistic, promote sodomy, or promote any and all discord within the Church.

July 30, 2013 at 9:33 pm
(20) Salvy says:

First, I’ve been well aware for a long, long time that the mainstream media consists of some of the biggest collection of dumb-bells anywhere on planet earth. I think some of these commenters, here, may very well work in that field.
Did not Pope Francis say to everyone who asks him their stupid questions on the gay this–the gay that– to go to the catholic catechism book and read exactly what his and the churches official position is?

July 30, 2013 at 9:43 pm
(21) Kevin says:

I would LOVE to know what William Peter Blatty, one of the greatest minds and writers of Catholic-themed literature and film thinks – and has to comment, perhaps even write – on this subject.

July 30, 2013 at 10:46 pm
(22) Janice Richardson says:

Rebecca,

Holy Love is not approved by the
Catholic Church.

July 30, 2013 at 10:54 pm
(23) rebecca says:

Michelle: The message from Jesus to Christina is in the lower portion of the page where it reads “Release of Messages from Jesus received by Christina Gallagher”.
Please everyone read JESUS’s message and Our Holy Mother’s messages and warning throughout the pages.

GOD Bless You All,
Rebecca

July 30, 2013 at 11:38 pm
(24) Francis says:

Scott it is not your job to explain what the pope’s comments meant no matter what certain journalist believed he meant. He is the teacher, let him explain….There is no doubt he is a faithful Catholic and a Holy man…and I believe he is going to confuse many because the Law has found its way into his heart and for him, unlike most of us, the law has no teeth. He loves God and he will be faithful always to the letter of the law in a way that we are not used to in our church……He will serve us with grace, joy and compassion. Some will not like him and be confused by him just as some did not like the Christ…This Pope sees and knows the reality of sin but he knows the reality of Christ’s love and mercy for us and he will be that love and mercy for everyone..We have someone special here….

July 30, 2013 at 11:41 pm
(25) Joy Job Thottukadavil says:

When Pope Francis asks himself the question: Who am I to judge gay people? he is just personalizing the teachings of Christ, to hate the sin but to love the sinners. This once again upholds the sincerity and integrity of Pope Francis. Wonderful dear Pope! Go ahead courageously.

July 31, 2013 at 12:21 am
(26) Barley Okeadu says:

Would you blame the man, considering the hurried exit of his predecessor? This is a clear testimony that the gay clergy are becoming more influential. Add the Obama and Cameron influence and a fuller picture emerges. The statement left many of his ‘sheep’ not sure anymore on where to stand on the gay saga. But the consolation is that God is not the author of confusion and, He will always show every sincere seeker the right way. Maranatha!

July 31, 2013 at 12:30 am
(27) Lawrence Beaton says:

In black and the white, the Pope is not saying anything new. So why make a big issue about it. The mass media is continually attempting to distort anything that the Holy Father says, as they have in the past. When this happens Catholics head for the high hills, in order to hide themselves away until the temptest is over. They do this, instead of going into battle against those who would distort the truth. Maybe your readers should read Pope Leo XII’s encyclical Sapientiae Christianae to understand what Catholic’s going into battle means.

July 31, 2013 at 12:48 am
(28) Kevin says:

As a fellow Catholic, I still would like to know William Peter Blatty’s thoughts on this whole matter. He wrote both the novel and the Academy Award Winning screenplay for “The Exorcist” and before any of you shout me out for referencing a classic 70′s horror novel and film, please be reminded that he has written so much, much more than that! Don’t think he’s “Catholic” enough? Consider his current petition to get Georgetown University to return to it’s’ original Catholic Roots! God Bless him! Please, Mr. Blatty, where are your thoughts and comments on this entire matter when we need them the most?!…

July 31, 2013 at 1:14 am
(29) Salvy says:

Firstly, Ms. Joy Job Thottukadavil, nice Italian name, by the way… II’s not like the Pope in the mirror asking himself , Who am I to judge? as if he doesn’t have a clue. It’s more like he knows that the reporter questioning him—the guy with the journalism degree–or maybe just a high school dropout who got his job through a phony resume–isn’t exactly a Cicero or Aristotle.
So, the pope feels he’s got to answer the guy somewhat in the manner of trying to teach a child a valuable lesson. That’s the way I see it.

July 31, 2013 at 10:17 am
(30) Scott P. Richert says:

“I find the title of your article today rather insulting. ‘Take a deep breath’? Why? Because the Pope made a comment stating that gay people should be treated like anyone else?”

No. Because the media reports that imply or outright claim that Pope Francis has changed 2,000 years of Church teaching on this topic are simply wrong, and because Catholics who believe those reports, rather than looking at what the Holy Father actually said, and the context in which he said it, are being upset unnecessarily.

July 31, 2013 at 10:19 am
(31) Scott P. Richert says:

Kevin, I greatly admire William Peter Blatty, and have written about The Exorcist before on this very site. But I wonder: What particular insight do you think he might have on this issue?

July 31, 2013 at 10:25 am
(32) Scott P. Richert says:

“As a Catholic, I have been taught to treat people as HUMAN, without labels, period. I believe gay people are just as valuable and deserving of human rights as heterosexuals because as a Catholic I have been taught to love all unconditionally and to fight for those who are treated with inequality.”

You do realize, Trish, that both “gay” and “heterosexual” are labels, don’t you? And that those labels place people in boxes that prevent you from treating them as simply human?

“Why not allow him to speak without analysizing and writing an article about it?”

I wouldn’t have written an article about it if the media, both secular and Catholic, hadn’t misinterpreted and misrepresented the Holy Father’s remarks as being at odds with Church teaching. They’re not, and the context—ignored by the media—makes that clear.

July 31, 2013 at 11:14 am
(33) JAMES IN COLORADO says:

Scott Richaert: Thanks for clearing up all of the muddled thinking I read in the comment section. This is what we need today: clear unambiguous answers to confused and muddled thing especially when it comes to catholic teaching!

July 31, 2013 at 12:17 pm
(34) TimKnight says:

God did not make homosexuals, Satan corrupted them into thinking it’s OK to go against God’s will and be with the same sex. What better way for evil to triumph and not have procreation? Why hasn’t anyone from the church defined this?

July 31, 2013 at 4:40 pm
(35) Lenny says:

TimKnight: If God did not make homosexuals then who did, are they not humans? God’s plans are know to Him alone, on why there are many differences in humanity—some are healthy, some are sick, or deformed, smart or stupid, short or tall, great lookers and not so great in looks, straight or gay etc—Statin has nothing to do with it, period. We were not all meant to procreate, lets just say, maybe this is Gods way of birth control and not to overpopulate the planet. We are all children of God, and its ok to be who you are as God has made you. Thats why the church hasn’t defined your statement.

July 31, 2013 at 6:36 pm
(36) Salvy says:

Are you sure we are all children of God? That’s a popular misnomer.
People who outright reject God are not his children. We know from Christ himself that there is a hell and some are going there and by their own bad decisions.

July 31, 2013 at 9:54 pm
(37) Kevin says:

Scott, thank you so very, very much for your question, and yes, I am aware of your past writing and comments on Mr. Blatty, as well as the postive focus on both his writings, his beliefs, and his own personal perspectives and love for the Catholic Church. As I stated (and sometimes seem to “defend,” but not with you, of course), Mr. Blatty is an intellect and a theological scholar like no other, and “The Exorcist” is not the only thing that he has written concerning faith (or the mystery of it). He has written far much more on the subject (both fiction and non-fiction), and I am rivited by his interviews in which he has shared his own personal beliefs on “Everything Catholic” from Mass, Faith, Forgiveness, Prayer, Heaven, Hell, etc., and this current topic, to me, seems like just one more that I would love to hear his opinion on. He has been in the news lately, mostly for his current lawsuit with Georgetown University for what he has called “a loss of Catholic identity.” He truly cares for The Church, it’s teaching, and it’s future, and I can’t blame him for what seems like his disdain for Georgetown allowing speakers who allegedly support such controversial issues as abortion and birth control. Though I have never met him, I have, however, corresponded with him several times and found him to be nothing less than a kind, caring, and loving person. He would have made a incredible Jesuit! Again, just curious what his thoughts and comments would be. Keep up the great work, Scott. God Bless!

July 31, 2013 at 10:31 pm
(38) AB Kugleman says:

Homosexual rights groups prefer the term “gay” in the same way abortionists prefer the term “choice.”

The Pope uses the term “gay.”

July 31, 2013 at 11:29 pm
(39) Salvy says:

AB Kug, I don’t think I’d stretch it that far and I’m one of those who remember when “gay” was a perfectly nice word that meant being happy, until the word was hijacked.
Pope Francis knows how disordered homosexuality is and he’s being diplomatic in his own loving Christian way.

July 31, 2013 at 11:49 pm
(40) TimKnight says:

Lenny: Statin??? You can’t even bring yourself to acknowledge there is an Evil in this world? The point I’m trying to convey is homosexuality is not something God created, it’s “love making” corrupted by the evil that is in these individuals whom, by the way, were created AS INNOCENT BABIES by the way God intended it to happen!

August 1, 2013 at 6:12 am
(41) wilson says:

Gay priests? Priests are celibate. And most priests live their entire adult lives only with other men. And in Male bodily systems, every month, there is a build up of excess seminal fluid. How each priest deals with this bodily function, is up to him. To give sex such a “sinful” power, is counter-productive. Sex is more about Sensuality– an attachment to the things of this world. After all, sin is based in need. No one would lie, cheat, steal kill, commit adultery, unless there was the need.
Jesus Christ, Our Lady and the saints can fulfill our needs.
The feeling is relief… Salve Regina!

August 1, 2013 at 8:39 am
(42) maria says:

why talk about gay priest, what are about priest having girlfriends or children.
lets admit it, it is difficult for one to stay without having sex for a long time so lets not condem but pray for God ‘s grace for both us and all the clergy

August 1, 2013 at 8:46 am
(43) maria says:

it is difficult to live totally without sex unless if you have turned 80 so lets pray for God ‘s grace whether priest nuns or lay people lets not condem homosexual priest because we have some priest with secret families girlfriens

August 1, 2013 at 8:55 am
(44) AB Kugleman says:

Salvy, To love someone is to desire the good for that person. Tolerance of sin is not love. The Pope ought to be clear that he is opposed to unnatural and unhealthy (hepatitus C, for example) behavior. Bishop Fulton Sheen said to be tolerant of the one who errs but we must be intolerant of the error.

The media has been promoting tolerance of homosexuality for years, to the point that homosexual marriage is becoming “acceptable.” We ought to be cautious of a Pope who gets good press by the same media that promotes sin.

I give a thumb down for this Pope.

August 1, 2013 at 12:07 pm
(45) Salvy says:

AB Kugleman I totally agree with you– and that Pope Francis ought to be more clear and vocal on the huge downside of all this rampant crazy homosexuality that’s being foisted upon the world.
I’m not ready to give the Pope a thumbs down, yet, but I am praying he gains more courage to speak out on this–after all it was the out of control homosexuality and all around immorality that helped bring the Roman Empire down. So, we know how this all ends. Go read the bible of God’s word from the beginning and see how God sets things up and how God will tear it down when things become way too wicked and unfixable.

And, something else, too, don’t count on this Cardinal Dolan, either, in all his self-promoting tweets to go off script and start telling the unpopular truth.

August 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm
(46) Signe says:

I found myself somewhat confused by Pope Francis’s use of “goodwill” (as translated in some places) but today, I happened to be reading Jacques Phillipe’s “Searching for and Maintaining Peace” which threw additional light on the word. Goodwill is not just having “nice feelings” – my term and emphasis – toward other people. Phillipe defines it:: “A necessary condition for interior peace, then, is what we might call goodwill. We could also call it purity of heart. It is the stable and constant disposition of a person who is determined more than anything to love God, who desires sincerely to prefer in all circumstances the will of God to his own, who does not wish to consciously refuse anything to God.” Later he adds, “…it is just this habitual disposition of heart (whose foundation is found in the virtues of faith, hope and love) which permits the grace of God to carry us, little by little toward perfection.” I found that this clarified things for me.

August 5, 2013 at 6:20 am
(47) Cllr Chris Burke says:

Hi Scott, living a busy life although I look forward to your emails in my box and the articles I find time to read it takes a few days holiday to write to you ;-) . I was pleased that Pope Francis made the remarks he did and that our very own BBC got it about right. Thank you for the work you do in rendering our Catholicism a little more clearly via the news. I also enjoy reading the remarks of my fellow correspondents and most make great sense. The idea that most priests are gay came as a surprise although one or two people in pubs (we enjoy real ale here in Lincoln UK and in Philadelphia but thats another story) have said that to me. Its an enduring myth that no amount of statistics can undermine it seems. I loved also the statement on unconditional love because thats what we are called to give and when we get it right admired for. I think that Pope Francis is a deeply committed Christian determined to root out corruption and make us a better example of the Christian community we are called by the Holy Spirit to be. Keep up the good work Scott. Best Regards, Chris.

August 5, 2013 at 7:00 pm
(48) William says:

Mr. Richert is careful to rely on the text of what the pope said on board that flight from Rio to Rome (but would that we had the Italian, if only to make sure). At the same time, Richert nearly trips over himself in alligning the Holy Father with a homophobia that just doesn’t show up in the pope’s comments–here or elsewhere. When Francis said it wasn’t the “tendency that was the problem” but lobbies that are always about rivalries and factions, he *was* departing from the 1986 declaration from the CDF. That document described the homosexual inclination as “a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.” I don’t know, but that sounds like a “problem” to me. Why didn’t the pope take this occasion to underscore the language of his predecessor regarding same-sex inclinations. Lastly, Richert presumes that Francis’ “gay lobby is about Vatican prelates “lobbying on behalf of their disordered affections.:” If that’s a ‘gay rights’ agenda, surely Richert knows better; there is no such voice in the Vatican. What the lobby is about, I suggest, is promoting a traditionalist agenda which is more about taffeta and lace than it is standing with the poor. It’s clear to me, between these two, where the pope’s real concerns lie.

August 5, 2013 at 11:19 pm
(49) Maripaz says:

Dear Scott, I have no words to express how much I enjoy and learn reading your newsletter about Catholicism.

August 7, 2013 at 4:54 pm
(50) Mike Jones says:

My guess is that it is because Pope Francis has allowed himself to understand the subject of same-sex sexual attractions and same-sex sexual behavior very well, that he speaks in the way that he does on this subject. My guess is that he understands very well priests and women religious who do experience some level of same-sex sexual attractions or who experience only same-sex sexual attractions. He understands how those individuals think who make the decision not to pursue same-sex sexual behavior. He understands those who find the need to own an identity of gay, but still be celibate. He understands those who have difficulty resisting same-sex sexual behavior even though they have made the commitment to the Catholic church to do so. He understands those who are sexually active and are priests or women religious.

I do not believe that the majority of priests experience same-sex sexual attractions. I believe that a sizable minority do. Of that minority, I believe that there are some who are sexually active with other men. There has been for decades an organized gay affirming voice within the Catholic church and within the priesthood.

Scott and others have worked hard to flesh out Pope Francis’ statements. I appreciate that Pope Francis did speak so off-the-cuff, so to speak. I do not think his words were inaccurate. I think that they came from a man who is very well versed in the topic and has taken the time to understand the range of people impacted by same-sex sexual attractions. I think it is the listeners of Pope Francis that would benefit from coming to the level of understanding that he has.

August 7, 2013 at 5:20 pm
(51) Mike Jones says:

I appreciate how Scott has carefully interacted with people here.

August 10, 2013 at 5:29 pm
(52) WarriorofTruth says:

A biased news source trying to deny what multiple news sources have evidence of by reinterpreting a statement of acceptance into one of hate. I’m catholic, but I’m also a realist, and to say something real for a moment…this website is a joke. You will never find truth in God on the internet. “The kingdom of God is inside you and all around you, not in a mansion of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood and God is there. Lift the stone, and you will find God.”

August 12, 2013 at 3:13 pm
(53) Teresa says:

@Scott,

You said: “That is what the Catechism means when it says that homosexual desire is intrinsically disordered.”

No, Scott, the Catechism does not say homosexual is intrinsically disordered. It says homosexual attractions are ‘objectively’ disordered. Same sex behavior is intrinsically disordered. There is a big difference.

August 12, 2013 at 5:37 pm
(54) Robert says:

Everyone should go back to basics. The Bible is the infallible Word of God. What does it say about the Homosexuality (Sodomy: Man to man and woman to woman). It is an abomination (Lev.18:22, 20:13). They that practice it shall not enter into the kingdom of God. Look at Rom.1:27-32. Look at 1 Cor 6:9-10. Now look at 1 Cor 6:11 for the contrast. The Old and New Testaments are in operation today because Jesus said”Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am notcome to destroy, but to fulfil. (Matt. 5:17)

When it comes to those who are judgmental! It all must be tempered with the love and mercy of God especially when there is contrition and commitment by those to become a changed creature.

“…..let God be true, but every man a liar; ” (Rom. 3:4)

August 18, 2013 at 7:54 pm
(55) Rita S. Hill says:

God did not make homosexuals. God created man and woman.
Scripture tells us a union between two people of the same sex is an abomination.

It is my understanding that homosexuality is a spirit that has entered a person who was sexually abused as a child by same sex person. If they are born that way, it is because it was passed on from a past generation.

It is also my understanding that they can be delivered from that spirit, IF THEY WANT. I have heard that there are some Catholic priests and ministers from other Christian denominations that God has given a gift of deliverance, and they can pray for homosexuals and deliver them from that spirit, IF THEY WANT TO BE DELIVERED.

PRAISE GOD!

August 19, 2013 at 12:31 am
(56) Joseph says:

Rita, As a bisexual male I can correct your thinking and assure you that most gay, bisexual, and lesbian individuals were never sexually molested. I am a testament to this truth because I was never molested. Would you ever say that it is your understanding that why people become heterosexual is because they were molested by a member of the opposite sex? Of course not.
Weather there is a genetic component to homosexuality (or, conversely, heterosexuality) is in many ways beside the point. Regardless of scientific advancements having a bearing on how we collectively perceive human behavior, we simply cannot escape a very real, and very new, truth. Homosexuality is gaining acceptance in a way that has never occurred in the history of mankind. Honestly I’m not here to say this is good or bad, but I am saying that it is happening in an unprecedented way. And it is not going to stop, it will gain more and more acceptance. This point can be argued till the proverbial cows come home but it won’t change it from occurring.
I have had enormous struggle understanding myself and my very real desires. I am in a monogamous relationship with a woman and she is very well informed of this aspect of myself. This is a topic I have devoted many hours of therapy, conversation, journaling, meditation, and prayer and I know with 100% confidence that it is okay to be gay, it is okay to be straight, or somewhere in between. It is okay to act on those desires as long as it is consensual and with another adult. How do I know this? Because I know God’s love in my heart. I feel it, I know it.

August 27, 2013 at 5:24 pm
(57) gerald says:

Gay or homosexuality is roundly condemned by the bible.;that is why a man leaves his mother and father and clings to his wife and they become as one..says the holy book and not the other way….Joseph please go for spiritual deliverance as Rita suggested.

September 6, 2013 at 12:57 pm
(58) William says:

Let be honest here. If the catholic church came out and said “the gay life style is now accepted by god and his son Jesus, you may now marry practice homosexuality and be accepted as you heterosexual counterparts however priest still cant marry. Every priest would throw his collar down and throw on a Cher cd. Truth is someone whom is raised Catholic and believes deeply in this religion that is gay cant ever be “gay” a gay person that believes his lifestyle is a sin against his creator is either going to live as a strait man/woman Live alone and lead a lonely existence or become a priest. I don’t believe for a second there is a priest alive that has taken his vows only out of his love for the lord. Show me one religion where its okay to be gay and not be married…will never happen, who the hell would subscribe to it.

September 30, 2013 at 1:38 pm
(59) Josphine says:

Maybe the pope should get some volunteers from North America to look at stuff he will publish beforehand to tell him what the American press might try to purposely misquote for their own advantage? I think it will save us a lot of scandal.

October 31, 2013 at 9:02 am
(60) anna says:

the only solution or answers for all comments is in the bible,it was because of the devils that brings confussions to the perfect creation of God,,he only created man and woman,now when man sins,,,the beginning of messing up with the perfect plans of God,,,Jesus said,,you are forgiven Go,and sin no more,,,,Blessed are those who walks uprightly till Jesus comes,,,,

November 14, 2013 at 5:27 pm
(61) Len says:

Dear friends, rather than focus on one interview with reporters on one flight, we should look at all of his comments about homosexuality in all settings. We should then be like the Bereans (Acts 17:10-11) and with great eagerness, examine the Scriptures daily to see whether these things are so. I have done so, compiling the Pope’s comments, and those of the Scriptures. The bottom line is that he supports homosexuality and the Bible does not. I love homosexuals, but not homosexuality. I hope you’ll take time to read the article at:
<a href=”http://wordistrue.blogspot.com/2013/11/pope-frances-supports-homosexuality.html”>Pope Frances Supports Homosexuality</a>
Best regards, Len

December 12, 2013 at 12:13 am
(62) Leonard Mather says:

My daughter is Gay. She has had four serial monogamist gay relationships in the last 20 years. She reports that ALL have been disastrous, unfaithful, with one being frankly abusive and another having been a Depressive-dysfunctional person who became deeply depressed when my daughter ended the relationship out of awareness of incompatibility. She just recently “stood for Christ,” was Baptized in a Baptist Church (I am Catholic; she was raised by her Mom a devout Atheist). My daughter announced that she is “No longer participating in any Lesbian activities.” My translation is: she is avoiding all Occasions of Sin and is pursuing her life by way of Sublimation in aiding others in her profession. I am proud of her. She has many new friends. Her Lesbian friends are history. She feels unfettered. I love her and support her.

December 16, 2013 at 12:51 pm
(63) stJohn says:

Scot, for taking this whole time to critically ND carefully state all these u should be in heaven. But nonetheless, all who wish to hear the will ND those who overtly antagonistic to the truth will always find falsehood in the truth. Christ is the truth for which all Popes ND the Church stand for. Scot thanks for the critical analyses

March 14, 2014 at 11:17 am
(64) Jo-Anne says:

Sex outside of marriage is a sin; however, being homosexual or heterosexual is not a sin.

March 14, 2014 at 5:29 pm
(65) Bonnie says:

I agree with JoAnne. Being homosexual is not a sin. Sex outside of marriage is. So, anyone who is having sex outside of marriage is being sinful. If a homosexual is not having sex then he or she is not being sinful.

March 23, 2014 at 7:49 pm
(66) peter says:

Thak You Richard for that so accurate comment about our awesume Holy Father Pope Francis

March 23, 2014 at 7:59 pm
(67) Peter says:

For William
Im sorry William but there are many many many Catholoc priests whom have taken their vows just for & only for their incredible Love of Our Lord.
I know this for a fact of history & of personal experience of my going to them as messengers of Christ & in their helping me for that reason & helping my wife for that reason & from their helping members of my family out of their devotion & Love of Christ.
You appearantly have never enjoyed the assistance or urgent help of a priest of you would surely know much different
Luv ya

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