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Did Pope Francis Change Church Teaching on Homosexuality?

Posted by on Jul. 30, 2013 at 10:20 AM
Pam
  • 35 Replies

Did Pope Francis Change Church Teaching on Homosexuality?

With his open and easygoing manner, Pope Francis charmed the media as much as the faithful during his successful visit to Brazil, the first international pilgrimage of his pontificate.

But it was the pope’s remarks about gay priests, made during a free-wheeling press conference on the return trip to Rome, that drew the most headlines, raising questions about whether the pontiff was signaling a change in the church’s approach to this volatile issue.

When asked by reporters about rumors of a “gay lobby” of clergy in the Vatican who were exposing the Holy See to blackmail schemes and scandal, Francis at first joked that while there’s a lot of talk about such a lobby, “I have yet to find on a Vatican identity card the word ‘gay.’”

Then, in a more serious vein, he added:

“I think that when we encounter a gay person, we must make the distinction between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of a lobby, because lobbies are not good. … If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge that person?”

Francis also cited church teaching to argue that gays should never be marginalized: “The problem is not that one has this tendency [to homosexuality]; no, we must be brothers. This is the first matter.”

Blogs and social media immediately exploded with commentary that either hailed — or lamented — the pope’s words as a shift in Catholic teaching on the role of gays and lesbians in the church.

But did Francis really signal such a change?

As far as church teaching, the pope said nothing that would indicate that there would be any change in the tenet that homosexuality is, as the Catholic catechism states, “objectively disordered.” Church teaching holds that because same-sex relations cannot lead to children they are against the natural moral law, and homosexuality has been condemned in Scripture.

Yet no one really expected Francis to announce any change to that doctrine, even if he could, and certainly not during an off-the-cuff exchange with journalists.

What the pope did appear to do, however, was to push back against a 2005 policy instituted by Pope Benedict XVI, his immediate predecessor, which stated that men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” could not be ordained. In a 2010 interview, Benedict again underscored that view, saying “Homosexuality is incompatible with the priestly vocation.”

Francis took a different tack on Sunday night.

“Pope Francis seems to feel that as long as a gay priest is not acting out sexually, he should not be judged,” said Richard Gaillardetz of Boston College, president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. “And he apparently sees no impediment to that priest serving the church well.”

It’s also notable that during his news conference, Francis defended one of his first major appointments, that of Monsignor Battista Ricca to help oversee the scandal-plagued Vatican Bank. Since his promotion, Ricca has been the target of an intense whispering campaign that accuses Ricca of having had at least one gay affair years ago.

Francis instead denounced such witch hunts and added that “if a person, or … priest or a nun, has committed a sin and then that person experienced conversion, the Lord forgives and when the Lord forgives, the Lord forgets.”

But the biggest message that Francis sent, and the most substantial change he made, was in tone.

Throughout his discourse there was none of the clinical, distancing talk of gays and lesbians as “objectively disordered.” Nor did Francis say, as Benedict did, that homosexuality “is one of the miseries of the church.”

As the Rev. James Martin noted, Francis even used the word “gay,” and in a positive sense, whereas popes and Vatican officials have traditionally spoken only of “homosexuals.”

“This is a sea change,” said Martin, a U.S. Jesuit and popular author.

“This may be a matter of ‘style’ in some sense, but in this case style matters,” Gaillardetz explained in a statement that echoed the poet Robert Frost. “One can appeal to our doctrinal tradition in order to justify moral rigidity and exclusionary attitudes or one can appeal to our doctrinal tradition as a call to be instruments of mercy and compassion. Francis has chosen the latter course and it has made all the difference!”

Observers have already detected an effort by Vatican officials to soft-pedal the pope’s comments, while some Catholics on the right were trying to explain them away — a campaign that Ross Douthat, a conservative and Catholic columnist for The New York Times, rejected as undermining the pope’s clear intention.

“Conservative Catholics suggesting there’s no news in the pope’s remarks are parsing the words, downplaying their context and spirit,” Douthat tweeted.

Francis’ openness with the media marks another difference from his predecessor, who answered only scripted questions by the Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi.

During the 80-minute conversation, Francis touched on several other issues of Catholic doctrine:

  • Francis reaffirmed the church’s ban on ordaining women to the priesthood, saying the issue had been definitively resolved by Pope John Paul II. “That door is closed,” he said, though adding that Catholic theologians needed to reflect more on the role of women in the church.
  • On the other hand, the pope advocated “mercy” for divorced and remarried Catholics, who are currently banned from receiving Communion if they do not have a church annulment.
  • Answering a question about the scandal-ridden Vatican Bank, the pope referred to the investigation he launched on the bank’s activities and status, stressing that all options were on the table for its future, including its outright closure.
by on Jul. 30, 2013 at 10:20 AM
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Replies (1-10):
cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on Jul. 30, 2013 at 10:56 AM
6 moms liked this

I really love this pope, and I'm not even Catholic. I think he has the right idea, to love others as Christ loves us and to not judge, because that's God's place, not ours. 

T-HoneyLuv
by on Jul. 30, 2013 at 10:58 AM
I agree completely.


Quoting cjsbmom:

I really love this pope, and I'm not even Catholic. I think he has the right idea, to love others as Christ loves us and to not judge, because that's God's place, not ours. 


Posted on CafeMom Mobile
candlegal
by Judy on Jul. 30, 2013 at 11:10 AM
1 mom liked this

That has always been the teaching, he has not changed anything.

jencarpe
by New Member on Jul. 30, 2013 at 11:17 AM
For those of you who don't know, the Bible clearly states How Jehovah (God) feels about homosexuality. 1 CO.6:9,10. IT clearly states they will not inherit God's Kingdom. (Paradise or Everlasting life)
fireangel5
by Gold Member on Jul. 30, 2013 at 11:25 AM
2 moms liked this

IDK, I have been raised Catholic and still practice. This really is nothing different than what I have been taught my whole life. What I have heard from priests and nuns. Maybe his delivery is softer or his demeanor, but the message is the same as to what I have heard always. 

snookyfritz
by Platinum Member on Jul. 30, 2013 at 11:37 AM
3 moms liked this

No, he reiterated church teaching on homosexuality  Priests are celibate therefore breaking no moral law

lizmarie1975
by Gold Member on Jul. 30, 2013 at 11:45 AM



Quoting fireangel5:

IDK, I have been raised Catholic and still practice. This really is nothing different than what I have been taught my whole life. What I have heard from priests and nuns. Maybe his delivery is softer or his demeanor, but the message is the same as to what I have heard always. 

Same as we've always heard but different than what Benedict was saying.


..MoonShine..
by Redwood Witch on Jul. 30, 2013 at 11:52 AM
2 moms liked this
I'm pretty sure everyone here knows. Homophobes like to use the Bible to defend their bigotry often.

Quoting jencarpe:

For those of you who don't know, the Bible clearly states How Jehovah (God) feels about homosexuality. 1 CO.6:9,10. IT clearly states they will not inherit God's Kingdom. (Paradise or Everlasting life)
romalove
by Roma on Jul. 30, 2013 at 11:53 AM
4 moms liked this


Quoting snookyfritz:

No, he reiterated church teaching on homosexuality  Priests are celibate therefore breaking no moral law

I don't disagree with you

BUT

I disagree with you.  :-)

Meaning, yes, what you are saying is true, but it's also obvious.

The part that is different here, that I would hope would be the takeaway, isn't that the Pope thinks homosexuality is or isn't OK.

We all know he's a Catholic and Catholic teaching is that homosexual activity is sinful.

But what the Pope said, which so many people haven't been grasping, is "who am I to judge", and I take that to mean, none of us here are God, that's God's job.

Every time someone posts about the homosexuality debate and brings up their religion as a reason why gays shouldn't be married or how they are immoral, etc., they are judging.  They are not leaving that to God.

That's what I hope people will take away.  Don't get involved with the judging, live and let live.

redheadstar
by Bronze Member on Jul. 30, 2013 at 11:54 AM
1 mom liked this

The Catholic Church is in decline with membership,  he needs new recruits.

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