Pope Francis, the first ever Latin American born Holy Father, has communicated a new and compelling interpretation of the staid and traditional Catholic perspective on homosexuality. And while he has spent the past week in Brazil surrounded by adoring crowds gathered for the World Youth Day in Rio sponsored by the Catholic Church, it has been his more recent frank and open discussion about “gays” that has caught many by surprise and left more than a few to wonder how much more progressive the Church can become under his leadership.
Typically even though the Christian belief teaches that every person deserves unconditional respect and love from its believers, many feel the Catholic view on homosexuality has been intolerant and unaccepting and that gay clergy especially, would not be welcome in their ranks. Pope Benedict, the predecessor to Pope Francis, who addressed the topic specifically back in 2005 when he wrote that it was “a strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil,” and an “objective disorder.” The church document said men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” should not become priests.”
However, some Catholic scholars point out that the Bible and the Church “have never taught that it is a “sin” to be homosexual. They teach it is a sin to have homosexual sex because it goes against the laws of God’s nature, specifically his plan for human sexuality.”
Pope Francis has gone even further by plainly stating “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” He reportedly even used the English word “gay” in his remark which many in attendance agree indicates a revolutionary new—at least to the Church clergy—way of viewing homosexuality among their ranks.
Whatever else Pope Francis stands for, his open and approachable style has endeared him to millions of followers the world over. As a matter of fact, it was his approachability that led to the discussion of gays and the Church during an exchange with reporters recently. When asked about a “gay lobby” within the Vatican, Francis went on to describe how the “orientation of the priest wasn’t the issue, but the lobby establishment was” in regards to reports of a contingent of priests apparently blackmailing other priests for information about sexual activities.
“So much is written about the gay lobby. I have yet to find on a Vatican identity card the word ‘gay,’ ” he commented in a light-hearted tone. “They say there are some gay people here. 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.”
Written By: Daniel Dreier