Guest post by Pope Francis

Not really. But it seems like everyone is talking about Pope Francis’ recent remarks on gays (and abortion and contraception), but I haven’t seen any bloggers actually post his remarks in full, so I’m going to go ahead and do that. The remarks come from a much longer interview, in response to a question specifically about how the Catholic Church can relate to same-sex couples and people who have divorced and remarried:

We need to proclaim the Gospel on every street corner, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing, even with our preaching, every kind of disease and wound. In Buenos Aires I used to receive letters from homosexual persons who are ‘socially wounded’ because they tell me that they feel like the church has always condemned them. But the church does not want to do this. During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.

A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.

This is also the great benefit of confession as a sacrament: evaluating case by case and discerning what is the best thing to do for a person who seeks God and grace. The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better. I also consider the situation of a woman with a failed marriage in her past and who also had an abortion. Then this woman remarries, and she is now happy and has five children. That abortion in her past weighs heavily on her conscience and she sincerely regrets it. She would like to move forward in her Christian life. What is the confessor to do?

We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.

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  • Tova Rischi

    The best word I have to describe this: “fluffy”.

    Soft, but ultimately soft due to its vacuousness. It doesn’t sound like a change in dogma for the right, simply a change in priorities. The church isn’t really going to apologize anytime soon, or bow to the evidence on issues such as abortion, homosexual rights, contraception etc. It’s just that if it were up to him they’d stop getting into the arguments they keep losing. Which is a different thing entirely from admitting that they’re wrong.

    Well, considering his background and his proclamations at least we can look forward, hopefully, to a boost in basic economic care for the poor. Hopefully.

    • eric

      It doesn’t sound like a change in dogma for the right, simply a change in priorities.

      Frankly, I think the latter is more important than the former. The RCC church has had the exact same dogma for 1600 years, but they have radically changed how they apply that dogma over those centuries. If they want to do that again here – keep the words, change the implementation – with gays, more power to them.
      Put simply, I care much less about what they maintain their book says, than I do about how they treat gay people. If they decide that addressing the ‘sin of being gay’ is as much of a social priority as addressing the sin of coveting your neighbor’s oxen, the world will be better for it.

  • Mick

    So this particular Pope has decided to stop bashing gays. So what? He’s still selling nonsense to his flock. He still says Jesus walked on water, Lazarus rose from the dead, Pope John Paul II performed at least one miracle, and wine turns into human blood every Sunday if one of his off-siders waves his hand over it.

    Good on him for easing up on the hatred against his fellow human beings, but oh boy, he’s got a long way to go before anyone can start taking him seriously about anything.

  • Dylan Walker (Skeptimus Prime)

    It seems like he just wants to avoid answering direct questions.

    The gist of what he seems to be saying though is that being gay is still a sin, but he doesn’t want to focus on that. He wants to focus on controverting people so that then they will act morally on their own.

  • L.Long

    He’s dribbling BS down his chin.
    I’ll listen when the catlick hospitals in various countries start doing abortions and allows their employees FULL insurance coverage…like contraceptives.