In press conference, Pope discusses US presidential election, ministry to transgendered persons
October 03, 2016
On his return trip from Georgia and Azerbaijan to Rome, Pope Francis held a wide-ranging press conference in which he discussed his travel plans for 2017, praised the vibrant Christian faith he observed in Georgia, and called for a “practical ecumenism” in which Catholic and Orthodox pray for one another and work together to assist the needy.
Addressing questions about regional conflicts and the Nobel Peace Prize, the Pope called for frank dialogue—and if necessary, adjudication before international bodies—rather than war, and suggested memorializing children slain in war.
A New York Times reporter asked Pope Francis:
Holy Father, as you know the United States is nearing the end of a long presidential campaign that has been very ugly and has received much attention in the world. Many American Catholics and people of conscience are struggling with how to choose between two candidates, one of whom diverts from some aspects of the Church’s teaching and the other of whom has made statements vilifying immigrants and religious minorities. How would you counsel the faithful in America and what wisdom would you have them keep in mind next month when the election occurs?
The Pope responded:
You pose me a question where you describe a difficult choice, because, according to you, you have difficulty in one and you have difficulty in the other. In electoral campaigns, I never say a word. The people are sovereign. I’ll just say a word: Study the proposals well, pray and choose in conscience. Then, I’ll leave the issue and I speak of a fiction, because I don’t want to speak to this concrete issue.
When it happens that in whatever country here are 2, 3, 4 candidates that no one likes, that means that the political life of the nation perhaps is too politicized but perhaps it doesn’t have that much politics. And, one of the jobs of the Church, also in the teaching in the (university) faculties, is teaching to have political culture. There are nations, and I’m thinking of Latin America, which are too politicized. But, they don’t have political culture. They are from this party, or this one or this one. Effectively, (they are) without a clear thought on the foundations, the proposals.
A correspondent for The National Catholic Reporter asked the Pope:
Yesterday in Georgia, you spoke, as in so many other countries about gender theory, saying that it is a great enemy and a threat against marriage. But, I would like to ask you, what would you say to someone who has struggled with their sexuality for years and feels that there is truly a problem of biology, that his aspect doesn’t correspond to what he or she feels is their sexual identity. You, as a pastor and minister, how would you accompany these people?
The Pope replied:
First of all: in my life as a priest and bishop, even as Pope, I have accompanied people with homosexual tendencies, I have also met homosexual persons, accompanied them, brought them closer to the Lord, as an apostle, and I have never abandoned them. People must be accompanied as Jesus accompanies them, when a person who has this condition arrives before Jesus, Jesus surely doesn’t tell them ‘go away because you are homosexual.’
What I said is that wickedness which today is done in the indoctrination of gender theory...a French father told me that he was speaking with his children at the table, he and his wife were Catholics, ‘rosewater Catholics,’ but Catholics! And he asked his 10-year-old son: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’- ‘a girl.’ The father realized that at school they were teaching him gender theory, and this is against the natural things. One thing is that a person has this tendency, this condition and even changes their sex, but it’s another thing to teach this in line in schools in order to change the mentality. This is what I call ideological colonization.
Last year I received a letter from a Spaniard who told me his story as a child, a young man, he was a girl, a girl who suffered so much because he felt he felt like a boy, but was physically a girl. He told his mother and the mom…(the girl) was around 22 years old said that she would like to do the surgical intervention and all of those things. And the mother said not to do it while she was still alive. She was elderly and she died soon after. She had the surgery and an employee of a ministry in the city of Spain went to the bishop, who accompanied (this person) a lot. Good bishop.
I spent time accompanying this man. Then (the man) got married, he changed his civil identity, got married and wrote me a letter saying that for him it would be a consolation to come with his wife, he who was she, but him! I received them: they were happy and in the neighborhood where he lived there was an elderly priest in his 80s, an elderly pastor who left the parish and helped the sisters in the parish. And there was the new (priest). When the new one he would yell from the sidewalk: ‘you’ll go to hell!’ When (the new priest) came across the old one, he would say: ‘How long has it been since you confessed? Come, come, let’s to so that I can confess you and you can receive Communion.’ Understood?
Life is life and things must be taken as they come. Sin is sin. And tendencies or hormonal imbalances have many problems and we must be careful not to say that everything is the same. Let’s go party. No, that no, but in every case I accept it, I accompany it, I study it, I discern it and I integrate it. This is what Jesus would do today! Please don’t say: ‘the Pope sanctifies transgenders.’ Please, eh! Because I see the covers of the papers. Is there any doubt as to what I said? I want to be clear! It’s moral problem. It’s a human problem and it must be resolved always can be with the mercy of God, with the truth like we spoke about in the case of marriage by reading all of Amoris Laetitia, but always with an open heart.
- Full text: Pope Francis' in-flight press conference from Azerbaijan (CNA; includes full transcript)
- The Pope speaks to journalists on his return flight to Rome (edited transcript from Vatican press office)
Posted by: Randal Mandock -
Oct. 04, 2016 4:35 PM ET USA
Shades of a certain U.S. president when absent a teleprompter, a competent translator, or both. How does one give a charitable answer to the question: "Is there any doubt as to what I said?" Move over Benedict XVI, St. JPII, and St. Thomas Aquinas.
Posted by: brenda22890 -
Oct. 04, 2016 9:41 AM ET USA
I appreciate that Pope Francis has finally caught on to how his words are reported in the secular press and that he appears to be trying to speak clearly. We'll see...
Posted by: rickt26170 -
Oct. 03, 2016 7:24 PM ET USA
And so Francis sanctifies transgenders. The man is hard hard to comprehend.
Posted by: Louise01 -
Oct. 03, 2016 7:17 PM ET USA
Huh? What did he say? No wonder the press feels free to "interpret" Is he Catholic??