Homosexuality — What Did the Pope Really Say?

Here is the transcript of Pope Francis’ comments on homosexuality earlier this week:

My fisk of his statements in red.

A journalist asked a question about Vatican official Monsignor Ricca, who was accused of engaging in a homosexual affair:

I would like to know, Holiness, what do you intend to do about this question. How to address this question and how Your Holiness intends to address the whole question of the gay lobby?

Pope Francis:

In regard to Monsignor Ricca, I’ve done what Canon Law orders to do, which is theinvestigatio previa. And from this investigatio there is nothing of which they accuse him, we haven’t found anything of that. The question was at first about a particular incident and the pope indicates that the proper investigative procedures have been gone through. He then moves on to a bigger question. This is the answer. But I would like to add something else on this: I see that so many times in the Church, outside of this case and also in this case, they go to look for the “sins of youth,” for instance, and this is published. Not the crimes, alas. Crimes are something else: the abuse of minors is a crime. No, the sins. But if a person, lay or priest or Sister, has committed a sin and then has converted, the Lord forgives, and when the Lord forgives, the Lord forgets and this is important for our life. When we go to confession and truly say: “I have sinned in this,” the Lord forgets and we don’t have the right not to forget, because we run the risk  that the Lord won’t forget our [sins]. That’s a danger. This is important: a theology of sin. I think so many times of Saint Peter: he committed one of the worst sins, which is to deny Christ, and with this sin he was made Pope. We must give it much thought. Pope Francis makes an important distinction between crime and sin. A sin is not always a crime. Both may be forgiven, but an illegal action must also be investigated by the appropriate authorities and prosecuted. It could be that a person commits a sin which is not a crime. If he is truly penitent the church forgives and moves on.  But, returning to your more concrete question: in this case, I’ve done the investigatio previa and we found nothing. This is the first question. Then you spoke of the gay lobby. Goodness knows! So much is written of the gay lobby. I still have not met one who will give me the identity card with “gay” . They say that they exist. I think that when one meets a person like this, one must distinguish  the fact of being a gay person from the fact of doing a lobby, because not all lobbies are good.  Here’s the important part. Pope Francis distinguishes between a person being gay and that person’s exerting pressure in some way to make a power play or manipulate others. The manipulation of people for power is the worst thing because it is using others for one’s own selfish ends. That’s bad. If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge him? This much-headlines statement is now seen in context. Pope Francis says this in contrast to the issue of power plays and manipulation. His famous statement is a way to say, “Compared to manipulating others and seeking power or privilege or prestige for oneself or one’s friends or one’s ideology, the simple fact of a person being gay is inconsequential. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this in such a beautiful way, it says, Wait a bit, as is said and says: “these persons must not be marginalized because of this; they must be integrated in society.” The problem isn’t having this tendency, no. We must be brothers, because this is one, but there are others, others. The problem is the lobbying of this tendency: lobby of the avaricious, lobby of politicians, lobby of Masons, so many lobbies. This, for me, is the more serious problem. And I thank you. He affirms the constant teaching of the Catholic Church that we are to treat all homosexual persons with love and acceptance. It is good to notice that the quote about homosexuality was in the context of a larger discussion of sin and repentance, and in the larger discussion of unfair lobbying in the Vatican. Nowhere does the Holy Father express approval of homosexuality. He is simply affirming the Catechism’s teaching that we are not to judge homosexuals merely on the fact of their having same sex attraction. As many have said before–there is nothing new here.

The full transcript of his interview can be read in two parts at Zenit here and here.

  • Peregrinus

    Thank you Father. Context is essential and so many journalists willfully ignore it in order to get a headline.

  • bender

    Sorry Father, but you do not go far enough in your clarification here. You note, “Pope Francis distinguishes between a person being gay and that person’s exerting pressure in some way to make a power play or manipulate others.” That and the rest are all well and good. But they also miss the point, which is that the mainstream media – and a good portion of the Catholic media – applied his remarks specifically to “gay priests.”

    Pope Francis did not speak about “gay priests” – his remarks concerned “gay” PERSONS. He did NOT say that “gay priests” were OK, much less that “gays” should be admitted to seminaries,” or that it was not his place to judge “gay priests,” but rather he spoke about the broader issue of PERSONS who happened to be “gay.”

    And one point that has been overlooked practically everywhere, and that is the point about his what is essentially a sarcastic remark about gay identity cards — **I still have not met one who will give me the identity card with “gay”** This humorous aside is rather telling, I think, because in fact THERE ARE people who effectively go around carrying an identity card marked as “gay.” Who does this? The very same people who make up the “gay lobby” in society, i.e. the activists and advocates who argue that same-sex attraction is not merely about what they do, but about what they are.
    Every person who self-identifies as “gay,” every person who speaks about “gay priests” and especially those who advocate for the existence of “gay priests,” as opposed to simply “Catholic priests,” basically is speaking about carrying a gay identity card. And in his humor of saying that no one he has met carries a gay identity card, he is essentially saying that for a person to self-identify in this way is wrong.

    The big lesson in all of this is, yet again, the lesson that one should trust NOTHING that comes out of the MSM, especially as it pertains to Catholicism or the Church. Yet, once again, too many people, including Catholics — including bloggers at this site who routinely defend the existence of “gay priests” and has made it her business to know who is “gay” so as to claim that she knows many “gay priests” — have swallowed the misinformation and intentional disinformation put out by the MSM. It is “Pope Benedict approves condom use” all over again.
    People — especially Catholics — should know better.

    • Strife

      Yep. And the Catholic blogger you refer to considers Fr James Martin a reputable Catholic source as well. Martin is a Jesuit “priest” who has repeatedly insinuated his support for homosexuality in general. And the Mrs blogger in question will not allow any criticisms of Martin on her site. No matter how valid the citations are or how fair.

      She also keeps promoting the false moral relativism that Catholics should “judge-not ” period. Not even sinful actions. She can have some beautiful insights at times but she is in dire need of some serious Catechesis. But unfortunately she is too proud to listen to anyone but her own voice.

    • Victor

      Well said bender and hopefully we Catholics will soon learn.

  • Thierry P Wersinger

    The way I understand it, homosexuality is a disorder ie a dysfunctionning in the natural order. Somerone who is experiencing homosexual tendancies is suffering from a disorder similar to someone who is experiencing a desire to abuse a substance, pyromania or zoophilia. This person who knowing his condition resists succombing to the urges of his tendancy is virtuous.
    Now homosexuality can never be a good as such. It would be wrong to compare experiencing homosexual tendencies to the natural attraction of males towards females which is in the order of nature. However, it is no less true that acting on this naturally good attraction in order to engage in fornication or adultery would be sinful. Homosexuals act are always sinful, applying all the other criteria to determine the level of guilt of the sinner based on circumstances. Promoting any kind of homosexual lifesyle, defining ones identity, promoting civil unions, so called same sex marriage are all grave sins the same way that promoting pyromania or substance abuse. The only acceptable attitude for someone who is suffering for homsexual tendencies it to seek tratment and avoid any circumstances that might lead him into temptation.

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

    Thank you Father. I have said that they are making a mountain out of a molehill on this. The context is important for understanding the full statement.

  • Silvia

    You have nothing to fear, pope Francis has very clear ideas about homosexuality and homosexual acts. If you can read Spanish you will find statements on the issue when he was still Cardinal Bergoglio:

    Cardinal Bergoglio ensures that the gay marriage law is a Satan stuff

    “Do not be naive: it is not just a political fight, it is the destructive claim of God’s plan. It is not a mere Bill (this is only the instrument) but a stuff of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive God’s children”, said the cardinal.

    As a Spanish native speaker I can see that he is surprisingly good at using slang words, as in this case “movida”.

    I think he still needs some time to adapt his communication style, but he will soon disappoint the liberal media. All this reminds me a bit the first few months of the papacy of John Paul II, when liberal media expected a pope who would preach liberation theology simply because he came from a communist country.

  • John Leach

    It is impossible for a man to be both a priest and gay. The Lord is the spouse of the Church and it is a male to female relationship as we call the Church Holy Mother the Church and the priests represents our heavenly Father. For the same reason a woman can’t be a priest as this would be a woman to woman relationship. Another question must be asked. would God create them male and female and say increase and multiply and fill the earth, and then create same sex attractions genetically? My answer is no, as it would be a contradiction of His very words. Since we have free will and abuse is so prevalent world wide; that even a baby in the mothers womb is being abused by the actions of those around it.

    God bless you all,

    John C. Leach

    • Matthew

      As a point of theology you are wrong. For Holy Orders to be valid: you need a validly ordained bishop, and a baptized (biological) male and the relevant intention on the part of both the giver and receiver of the Sacrament. Ten years ago when an Italian priest had a sex-change operation the Vatican laicized him but did not declare his ordination null – meaning of course that in cases of necessity he could still function as a priest. (e.g. absolution of someone in immediate danger of death.
      If you take your own view seriously you must admit that you would never know if a priest is really a priest or not since there is no way, besides self-disclosure, to identify a man as gay.
      The Church condemned Donatism a long time ago.

    • David Zelenka

      You are correct John. However, it’s important to realize that there are forces within the world that are very powerful. Powerful enough to affect our biology and physiology and can give people very strong and strange drives. People might have been pumped with fishing propaganda their entire lives, so the drive to go fishing makes it an obsession and very difficult to stop. Likewise, our chemistry, our dreams and desires have been altered and penetrated by the world through all kinds of routes: pornography, media, literature, language, chemicals, sexual reproduction methods. As a result people end up not being of a natural make up (natural as in the archetype God intended).

      So, what do we do about it? We stand strong in the Lord and is teaching. We deeply love all those who have been changed by the world through sin. We love them and in time transformation and healing happens. But it doesn’t happen in a day. It may take generations.

      Yes, the Church must stand strong in its true teaching or the reverse course will not happen.

  • Christian LeBlanc


  • LongIslandMichael

    Thanks Father for putting this out there not that I ever thought otherwise but so many people I know have come up to me about what the Holy Father said and I have to correct them and explain to him just what you posted and what he and the Church actually was stating.