The Anchoress, Elizabeth Scalia, on how Pope Francis is smashing the media narrative on the Church and gay rights

Read it here at First Things. She writes:

What did Francis say? Well, at this writing, the official Vatican transcript is not available, but according to reports, the Pope endorsed the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

“A gay person who is seeking God, who is of good will—well, who am I to judge him? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says one must not marginalize these persons, they must be integrated into society. The problem isn’t this [homosexual] orientation—we must be like brothers and sisters. The problem is something else, the problem is lobbying either for this orientation or a political lobby or a Masonic lobby.”

While it is true that, as newsman and Vaticanista John Thavis quickly noted, Francis’ remarks were not meant to be “specifically about gay priests,” secular headlines implied otherwise. His words, however, came in answer to a question about the so-called “gay lobby” within the Vatican and specifically concerning one of Francis’ own appointees, whose past had been raised by some as a cause for concern. To this, Francis replied…

>>>continue reading.

What follows is my  take on Pope Francis’s comments.

The Holy Father is a rhetorical genius here. For the media, “being gay” means celebrating one’s homosexual identity and living it out. That’s not what Francis means, especially given his strong opposition to state recognized same-sex marriage as well as his reference to the Church’s teachings in the Catechism.  Replace “homosexual” or “gay” with any number of nouns that we employ to describe people who have certain inclinations and ask yourself if Francis’ comments cohere perfectly with what the Church teaches. Of course they do!

Me and Pope Francis, 16 June 2013. He’s holding a copy of my book, Defending Life (Cambridge University Press, 2007)

I think what Francis is doing is something I have suggested for quite some time: use the language of inclusion and openness to advance a countercultural, and distinctly Christian, understanding of the nature of the human person. In other words, speak the truth in love.  (Wow, what a radical concept!) So, instead of saying that prolifers oppose abortion–which is the language our adversaries want us to speak–we say, with complete integrity and confidence, that we want a community that is open to all human persons regardless of their size, level of development, environment, or dependency. Instead of saying that we want to “ban gay marriage”–which is the language our adversaries want us to speak–we say, with complete integrity and confidence, that we believe in, and uphold, the dignity of all persons, including those with same-sex attraction, and that our understanding of that dignity is manifested in respecting the goods to which our sexual powers are ordered–real organic unity and the begetting and raising of children–which are best nurtured, protected, and advanced in the community’s recognition of the uniqueness and intrinsic good of the marriage of one man and one woman.

What Pope Francis articulated is Catholic moral theology. The fact that the media do not recognize it tells us a lot about them and very little about the Holy Father. Thus, the Pope, it turns out, is Catholic after all.

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  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    I think the media is making a mountain over a molehill over this. I’m not convinced that the Pope’s use of “gay” over homosexual was planned. It strikes me as an off the cuff statement. If it leads to better relations with the gay community, great. But I don’t think they’re going to have an epiphany and change their agenda. Or their lifestyle.

  • Dcn Chris

    But the people who get their info through the media won’t hear the nuance, and I’ll bet will not hear any explanation- Which is why I wish the Pope had said somethink like this- ” Are homosexuals welcome in the Church? My answer is “Of
    course, but on the same basis as the rest of us- as sinners in need of
    God’s mercy and forgiveness. Homosexual activity is sinful. That does
    not mean that a person struggling with same sex attraction is somehow
    MORE sinful than someone who is an adulterer. Or bears false witness. Or
    is dishonest in his personal or business dealings. Jesus gives the
    homosexual the same command he gives the rest of us- “Go
    forth and SIN NO MORE”. We need to be especially
    compassionate towards our brothers and sisters wrestling with this burden in good faith. They must often feel beset on all sides by those
    condemning them for not surrendering to their compulsions, and also by
    those who seem to consider them beyond redemption.

    None of us is exempt from the laws of God… and none of us is beyond His Mercy.