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Pope distinguishes between homosexual orientation, gay lobby

July 29, 2013

Pope Francis has said that he does not judge homosexuals, including homosexual priests. “If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them?” the Pope said.

The Pope added that a homosexual orientation “is not the problem.” He called for charitable treatment of homosexuals, saying that they should not be marginalized.

The Pope’s remarks-- made during a long and candid exchange with reporters who accompanied him on his return flight to Rome after a visit to Brazil for World Youth Day—were widely interpreted by reporters as an acceptance of homosexuals in the Catholic priesthood. But in fact the Pope’s comments were addressed to different questions.

The Pope had been answering questions from reporters on two sensitive topics: the reported existence of a “gay lobby” at the Vatican, and reports that the newly appointed prelate of the Vatican bank, Msgr. Battista Ricca, had been involved in past homosexual scandals.

The Pope said that although there have been many reports about a “gay lobby,” there is no clearly identifiable group. He joked that he had “never seen it on a Vatican ID card.” In that context, the Pope said that it is important to distinguish between a homosexual orientation and active participation in a “lobby” within the Vatican. “The problem isn’t the orientation,” he said. “The problem is having a lobby.”

Regarding Msgr. Ricca, the Pope disclosed that he had conducted an investigation into charges of misconduct, and “there was nothing.” He went on to say that it is “dangerous” to probe into the past sins of others. People can sin, repent, and accept God’s forgiveness, the Pope said. “The Lord both forgives and forgets. We don’t have the right not to forget.”

Thus the Pope did not address the issue of whether homosexuals should be ordained to the priesthood. He did not contradict the existing Vatican policy, set forth in a 2005 instruction from the Congregation for Catholic Education, stipulating that men with homosexual tendencies should not be ordained.

Nor did the Pope dismiss concerns about a "gay lobby" at the Vatican. On the contrary Pope Francis acknowledged-- as he has in the past-- that the existence of a lobby is a problem to be addressed.


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  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Jul. 30, 2013 10:38 AM ET USA

    The use of the term "good will" means that the homosexual person/priest in question is working to develop his/her spiritual life and resist temptations to sin. The press cannot distinguish between the sin and the sinner. To accept the latter, for them, is to celebrate the evil. THERE is where we find ill will.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Jul. 29, 2013 10:40 PM ET USA

    The remarks are ambiguous at best and they are disconcerting. Sexual perversion and disorder have nearly bankrupt the Church and wasted vast resources contributed by devoted faithful. There are additional comments that really merit some head-scratching. Forgiveness and forgetting are two distinct things. Scandal destroys lives and souls. Prudence demands that we watch and pray for the good of souls and the virtue of Catholic boys and men.

  • Posted by: unum - Jul. 29, 2013 9:02 PM ET USA

    While I understand "Dover's" concern, stilted messages that cannot be spun by the media have marked the Vatican for years. The Holy Father made it clear in Brazil that the Church needs to speak in language the faithful understand. That said, we know the Brazilian remarks were translated by the AP and others for English speakers and I would like to see a Vatican translation in a timely manner so the words of Pope Francis are not distorted - either inadvertently or deliberately.

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Jul. 29, 2013 7:23 PM ET USA

    Pope Francis wings it again, and again delivers a feast of easily-distorted sound bites to cheer the Church's enemies and confuse the faithful. Just using the phrase "Who am I to judge?" plays right into the distorters' hands. Why is this happening?

  • Posted by: Contrary1995 - Jul. 29, 2013 3:44 PM ET USA

    It is especially true with Pope Francis that one cannot pay any attention to the secular media or self-styled "progressive" Catholic media. In general, the media is growing more and more irresponsible almost on a daily basis.