What can we learn from Pope Francis on homosexuality?

What the Catholic Catechism says about chastity and homosexuality

Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. (2357)

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfil God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. (2358)

Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.(2359)

Pope Francis’ recent remarks on homosexuality

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods…. The teaching of the church … is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”

“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.”

“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 … In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation.”(Excerpts from Pope Francis’ recent interview with Italian Jesuit magazine)

Has Pope Francis changed the position of the Catholic Church on homosexuality?

In my opinion, Pope Francis’ statements does not represent a change in the Catholic Church’s stand on abortion, homosexuality or contraceptive methods. It represents an attempt by the Pope to reform the image in which the Catholic Church has been perceived: that of an unfeeling moralizing institution without a heart. He is concerned that the Catholic Church insists that abortion is wrong and that homosexuality and gay marriage is wrong, (which Evangelicals agree), and that the only right contraceptive method is the natural rhythm method (which Evangelicals disagree), but it does not seem to care about weightier issues like respecting and accepting the human being, and the pain of poverty, respectively, in those contexts. He wants the Catholic Church to show its gentler side. He wants her to view all human beings with dignity and as persons that God loves.

The Church is to be the face of God. She is to reflect a Christ that mingles with outcasts and has compassion on the marginalized, treating them with acceptance, love and reconciliation. The church is to reflect the message of reconciliation it preaches, which is primarily one of God’s mercy and grace. People will then realize how untrue is their perception that the church is full of upright people of superior moral standing with pointed fingers that upbraid wrong-doing. We are a people with many weaknesses but recipients of God’s manifold grace: a forgiven community welcoming all who also need forgiveness.

Pope Francis does not want the Catholic Church to be perceived as strident and preachy as that would be counter-productive in convincing people of the truth of its positions. He is still a “son of the church” – he still holds to the Catholic dogma, or he wouldn’t be Pope. He is more concerned about harsh condemning attitudes towards wrongdoers and the wrong perceptions the world has of the Church.

We Singapore evangelicals can certainly learn something from this Pope.

31 thoughts on “What can we learn from Pope Francis on homosexuality?”

  1. While I understand the position of the good Pope let me issue a warning. The american episcopal used this sort of pastoral language to manage difficult issues like homosexuality. They toned down considerably the Biblical truth concerning difficult issues like homosexuality. The end result was division, hurt and a disaster.

    1. Purpose Driven,
      Yes the Anglican Communion of which the American Episcopal is an arm of is in divided because of the deviant position of the American Episcopal. The American Episcopal is in apostasy. The evangelicals of the Anglican Communion regards it as so. Their theological position on homosexuality is different from that of the Roman Catholic Catechism. What happened with them may not necessarily happen with the Roman Catholics, who stand stoutly against homosexuality, and now wish also to sensitively and compassionately “accompany” these brothers and sisters.

  2. There’s one question about Leaving Alexandria – otherwise a quiet epic of a biography about faith, doubt, class, philosophy and social action – that won’t go away. How did such an innate dissimulator and self-dramatist as Richard Holloway, wracked with crippling, carnal doubts about the authority and certainties of organised religion, actually get to become the Episcopalian Primus and Bishop of Edinburgh?….Richard Holloway

    The Pope is a corporate man working within the strict confines of catholic culture and ethos – he is trying but there is 2000 years of corruption and hubris to cleanup. The main risk is his age – will he have the blessings of health and energy to bring to this Herculian task.

    1. Journeyman, You are right. The task is Herculean. The Catholic culture and ethos is deeply embedded over the many centuries of its existence, and it will take a work of God to see the kind of changes the Pope wants to see. Pope Francis is radical, a leader who urgently sees the need for change, and often goes “off message” – speaking off the cuff – conjuring a bureaucratic nightmare. It is the hope of many that this fresh breeze in the Vatican may blow away many a cobweb.

    2. “2000 years of corruption and hubris” – a tad over-the-top, don’t you think? It’s also 2000 years of protecting and preserving the Word of God, bringing Christ to millions of people and standing up for the helpless in the face of violence and persecution, when no one else bothered. And many many popes, bishops, priests and laypeople died for them.

      As with any human organisation, even one that is dedicated to the service of the Lord, there will unfortunately be shortcomings and corruption (even Jesus’ apostles were not immune to this). The mistakes of a few within the Church should not be allowed to taint the good work of the rest.

      1. @servant
        Maybe a tad dramatic but definitely not over the top……

        http://listverse.com/2011/06/08/top-10-shameful-moments-in-catholic-history/

        And more recently……
        “…….,Alberto Luciani, Pope John Paul I died or was murdered sometime between 9:30p.m. on September 28 and 4:30 am on September 29, 1978 when his body was discovered. It is known that Luciani was already aware of the financial intrigue involving the IOR, that he intended to “clean house” and dismiss Archbishop Marcinkus, and end the association with Robert Calvi, Liccio Gelli and Michael Sindona. It is known that the pope who replaced him, Karl Wojtyla as John Paul II, was closely linked to all of these men, maintained Marcinkus in his position, and kept “Vatican Incorporated” rolling. It is known, too, that plans to back Wojtyla were at least facilitated by Ortolani, who allowed his palace to be used as a clandestine gathering place for those members of the Curia and the rest of the Vatican elite who supported that objective. ”

        For more visit….http://www.voxfux.com/features/vaticanmurder.html

        Pope Pius XIII colloaborated with the Nazis and Missolini during WWII…….

        1. Journeyman, you’re a victim of malicious rumour-mongers (don’t people just love conspiracy theories?). Let’s just stick to the facts, please. I’m not going into every allegation in your ‘top 10’ list, but three which I’ll mention below should already give you an idea of your list’s dubious integrity…

          Indulgences – http://www.catholic.com/tracts/myths-about-indulgences

          Galileo – http://www.catholic.com/tracts/the-galileo-controversy

          Inquisitions –
          http://www.catholic.com/blog/jon-sorensen/the-myth-of-the-spanish-inquisition

          As for the death of Pope John Paul I, the Church admitted on hindsight that it should have improved its communication of this unfortunate event, which could have minimised the subsequent rumours that swirled after his death.

          ‘… in an effort to stem the rumors, Archbishop John Foley of the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications asked English journalist John Cornwell to investigate the issue. No conditions were placed on the project, which received full Vatican support all the way up to Pope John Paul II himself. Cornwell’s conclusions were published as A Thief in the Night: Life and Death in the Vatican (1989).’

          http://www.crisismagazine.com/2009/a-quiet-death-in-rome-was-pope-john-paul-i-murdered

          Pope Pius XII during WW2 – on the contrary, he protected the Jews, marking himself as an enemy of the Nazis in the process. It is also interesting to note this quote from the most well-known Jewish figure of this century, Albert Einstein: “Only the Catholic Church protested against the Hitlerian onslaught on liberty. Up till then I had not been interested in the Church, but today I feel a great admiration for the Church, which alone has had the courage to struggle for spiritual truth and moral liberty.”

          http://www.catholic.com/documents/how-pius-xii-protected-jews

          It is indeed opportune to conclude with Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s famous quote – “There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church, which is, of course, quite a different thing.”

          1. Servant, thanks for the clarifications. Conspiracy theories a la Da Vinci Code will be recycled forever and ever – as long as it catches eyeballs and advertising dollars.

          2. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? A Servant to the official line?
            Look at the incontrovertible proof you are offering to refute – all from Catholic.com? Hardly independent, non vested entities. Appreciate some rational and reputable sources — the Catholic Clergy and Church with its past record, please!

            Every human organization is not beyond corrupts iLife as they are made up of people like us!
            Remember the pastor who is defending us against moral corruption and asserts his church is not subject to civil law or the high living jet setting needing millions to win souls for Jesus and proudly maintains his integrity – give me a break! Pls show me the evidence to refute these popar assertions

          3. Maybe pedophilia in the Catholic Church is also a conspiracy of leftist liberal press….

            http://theweek.com/article/index/201287/pope-benedict-and-the-pedophilia-scandal-a-timeline

            This timeline is pure fiction? maybe also the billions of dollars paid around the world is pur of the charitable heart of the church.

            Maybe the people at Yad Vasham Holocaust Museum in Israel still suspect PPXII as “willing collaborator” of the Nazis during WW2…”The original text at Yad Vashem was a terse chronicle of the opportunities Pius missed to confront or speak out against the Nazis and mentioned his role before becoming pope in 1939 in the church reaching an agreement with the German government. These elements remain in the new text.

            The history of the wartime pontiff has long been a point of contention between Catholics and Jews. Defenders of the pope have said he did everything possible to help Jews, while critics have portrayed him as being indifferent and even complicit in the deaths of six million Jews across Europe.

            Yad Vashem, which contains the largest archive of data on the Holocaust, also urged the Vatican to open its archives “so that a clearer understanding of the events can be arrived at”.

            Maybe some hypothesis arrived by researcher Jordi Vidal-Robert was that the ” Spainish Catholic Inquisitions” started in 1483 was essentially a wealth grab – it was supposedly anti Semitic – this was based on data mining 35000 court documents digitized and data mined – maybe it is all a conspiracy!

            Read for yourself……..http://www.econ.yale.edu/conference/neudc11/papers/paper_397.pdf

            The intention is persuade blog visitors to discern and draw logical and rational conclusions for themselves. Hopefully I am completely invested and have no interest beyond trying to understand my existential faith.

          4. Journeyman, I am completely with you in helping readers draw rational conclusions, which is why I refer to catholic.com. Every article in catholic.com is extensively referenced (which unfortunately is not quite the case with your initial sources). For far too long, many people (and especially the media) have been force fed with allegations about the Catholic Church, allegations that simply ignored the truth just to assuage their own biases about the Church. And it’s high time that catholic.com and several other websites have come forward to set the record straight.

            I have no desire to trade website blows with you, but I must confess to being quite perturbed by your lack of humility and charity to a fellow Christian. You may want to keep the Lord’s words in mind from Matthew 7:1-5…

            1 “Stop judging,* that you may not be judged.
            2 For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.
            3 Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?
            4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye?
            5 You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.

  3. Dear Journeyman,

    Richard Holloway had a brilliant way of saying 3 contradictory things at the same time without sounding foolish. Thats how he became Episcopalian primus.

    The Pope is working hard to change the image of the church. It appears that he is not tinkering with the substance of the beliefs.

    1. Dear Purpose Driven,

      Most “traditional churches” have been uncomfortable about addressing issues of SEX in a matter of fact manner – similarly with diseases, suffering and ultimately death. Richard Holloway’s journey resonates as most thinking, rational and logical Jesus followers (as opposite to “Christians” (adherents and subscribers to an orthodox faith and belonging to a recognized Church) – some like me who have feel an increasing degree of uncertainty as we deconstruct various types of biblical translation (Geneve, NIV, KJV, NKJV ASB etc) and occasionally to Syriac and Coptic after my Russian trek last year. Suspect the reason he does not sound foolish is because he speaks from his heart without trying to be sycophantic to his employer’s ideology.

      I pray that Pope Francis is about “downgrading” sex to the same level as other prevalent sins that remain unresolved. If this is true, then there is a sea change and much refreshment for a tardy corrupt church that has existed for far too long. If the SEX issue is addressed, then pedophilia can be “controlled.” Unlike you, I do not believe any human can be SIN-FREE, hence “sects” that attempt to persecute another human because of race, creed, religion or sex is essentially homophobic. Some prominent “Christian” church leaders have not been credible salt and light to the world. Any homosexual is no more sinful than the pastor who devises sophisticated financial instruments and complex transaction and continues to maintain his integrity despite a highly incriminating series of emails connecting the dots or another who attempts to cause friction with civil society by trying to impose his interpretation of Biblical teaching.

  4. I will only believe Pope’s radicalness when he changes the policy on celibacy. He is changing the tone of the church not its substance or message.

    1. Well Purpose Driven I hope this snippet from “clerical celibacy” in Wikipedia gives you some encouragement:
      In 1970, nine German theologians, including Joseph Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI), signed a letter calling for a new discussion of the law of celibacy, though refraining from making a statement as to whether the law of celibacy should in fact be changed.[26]
      In 2011, hundreds of German, Austrian and Swiss theologians (249 as of February 15, 2011[27]) signed a letter calling for married priests, as well as women in Church ministry.[28]
      In February 2013, shortly before resigning in view of accusations, which he denied, of having made improper advances to priests in the past,[29] Cardinal Keith O’Brien said, in an interview with the BBC, that he felt that it would be within the scope of the next elected Pope to rethink the rules to allow Roman Catholic priests to be married if they wished, as celibacy was not of divine origin.[30] In the interview he stated that “of course we know at the present time in some branches of the church – in some branches of the Catholic church – priests can get married”.[31] In reality, while in some Eastern Catholic Churches married men may become priests, no Eastern Catholic Church allows priests to marry.[32]
      In March 2013, 21 Catholic parliamentarians from the United Kingdom wrote a letter to Francis, asking him to allow married men in Great Britain to be ordained as priests, keeping celibacy as the rule for bishops, as a sign of the “high regard we have for those who are able to live a genuinely celibate life.”[33] The letter cited the fact that married Anglican priests have been ordained by the Catholic Church and allowed to serve as Catholic priests, noting that “These men and their families have proved to be a great blessing to our parishes.”[33] “Based on that very positive experience,” the letter continued, “we would request that, in the same spirit, you permit the ordination of married Catholic men to the priesthood in Great Britain.”[33]

  5. My compliments on an article that has accurately captured the essence of the Pope’s intentions and actions. This is indeed refreshing, as many people (even some Catholics) and especially the media, misunderstand what’s he trying to do. Well done!

  6. From Huffington post……

    This man may deserve to win “Grandfather Of The Year.”

    In this incredible letter, a grandfather passionately addresses his daughter’s decision to kick her gay son out of the house after he decided to come out of the closet. Though we don’t have the full details surrounding the incident, the grandfather tells his daughter that “kicking Chad out of your home simply because he told you he was gay is the real ‘abomination’ here. A parent disowning her child is what goes ‘against nature.'”

  7. OpED from NYtimes………”TO understand Pope Francis — his purpose, his program and its potential pitfalls — it’s useful to think about what’s been happening to New York City’s Jews……………

    From the 1950s on, New York’s Jewish population declined, amid suburbanization and assimilation. But over the last 10 years, the numbers began to rise again, climbing 10 percent between 2002 and 2011.

    But this growth was almost all among Orthodox Jews. The city’s Reform and Conservative populations continued to drop, as did Jewish religious observance over all….

    …….Will the church grow or stagnate under his leadership? Will his style just win casual admirers, or will it gain converts, inspire vocations, create saints? Will it actually change the world, or just give the worldly another excuse to close their ears to the church’s moral message?

    Guess the results of Pope Francis will be about the fruits the Catholic Church will bear a decade from now…..

    for more….http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/opinion/sunday/douthat-the-promise-and-peril-of-pope-francis.html?_r=0

  8. The pope is making amends for abandoning the priests working in the slump in the 1970s.
    This resulted in many dying and being tortured hence his assertion that he is a sinner perhaps a great
    Sinner saved by grace. Their liberation theology reminds us not to separate
    People and mindful of harmimg the weak.

    Our sin here is to come against an innocent group of people.

    When we realised one day, the weight of harm done to the glbt
    Community as pastor brian houston puts it, are we humble enough
    To say as the pope said that we have sinned against God and those
    Different from us.

    Asingkan, the malay word for separation. Sometimes, we label
    And separate people not like us.

    Jesus only separated himself from the real sinners. Ie the pharisees.for the
    Grace of God could not reach their hardened self righteous heart.

    Let us be humble, lest we forget Gods grace and truth.

  9. @servant.. “I must confess to being quite perturbed by your lack of humility and charity to a fellow Christian. You may want to keep the Lord’s words in mind from Matthew 7:1-5…” – what are you attempting to do except to judge me through your perceptions on how a “Christian” sud behave…should this be a matter between my God and me?

    Are not your words judgemental and could equally apply to your own conduct as I have presume you are just as sinful as me – I will stand corrected and apologize unreservedly if you think you are better than this semi literate scum who is a blog visitor.

    You can cast the first stone at me for this unwarranted observation.

    If u do research you will always find plus and minus – who is absolutely right is a matter of opinion – getting a lot of people to agree does not make an opinion more truthful.

    My world view is not like yours of absolute black or white but of a dynamic grey scale and that I will always be a sinner until I expire but still empowered to have an abundant life through a massive amount of Grace – for that I will always be grateful.

    FYI, the “Catholic Church” has LIED many times thru 2000+ years and damaged many humans who submit to their flawed practise of their beliefs…..really the pot has little credo calling the kettle black.

    1. Journeyman – Really? Come now, who has been doing all the attacking and who has been doing all the defending? Who has been hurling accusation after accusation?

      I’m curious, what has our own sinfulness got to do with any of this?

      Noted that you could not resist another swipe at the Catholic Church in your last paragraph, which frankly is just your personal opinion and nothing more (and you say I’m judgemental?). It is precisely this kind of rabid and senseless anti-Catholicism that leaves many of us scratching our heads.

      1. Eppur si muove; [epˈpur si ˈmwɔːve]) is a phrase (“And yet it moves”) said to have been uttered before the Inquisition by the Italian mathematician, physicist and philosopher Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) in 1633 after being forced to recant that the earth moves around the sun. (Wikipedia)……is this stating a historical fact or attacking the Catholic Church?

        Have never attempted to represent anybody but myself – having a robust debate is not about being personal but a journey to uncover more and hopefully come closer to the “ultimate truth” – if you think you have found it, then my observations and perceptions and presumptions should seem trivial and be inconsequential.

        Personally prefer the arrogance of truth than the humility of deception.

        1. @Servant

          Another ” breaking rabid” comment……..
          VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – A Roman Catholic bishop under fire for spending some 31 million euros ($42 million) on an ultra-luxurious residence should examine his conscience over the crisis he has caused, the head of Germany’s bishops said on Monday.

          1. Journeyman

            You go on and on about the ‘crimes’ of the Catholic Church, yet not bother to understand objectively the issues in the proper context, even when it has been clearly pointed to you. I suggest you read the article below (which I already posted previously) on what really happened to Galileo before shooting from the hip:

            http://www.catholic.com/tracts/the-galileo-controversy

            About the bishop that was accused of spending excessively, it is precisely because the Catholic Church does not condone this kind of behaviour that he has been summoned to Rome to answer for this and more importantly, give his side of the story. To bring out the ‘truth’, why didn’t you mention that Pope Francis is clearly a shining example of humility and frugality in the Catholic Church? Do you also know that almost every priest in the world receives a pittance for his service to the Lord? In S’pore, priests are paid less than $500 a month. Your ‘truth-reporting’ is a bit one-sided, no?

            I will be the first one (along with probably almost all of my Catholic brethren, including the Pope) to put up my hand and admit that the Catholic Church has been far from perfect and much to improve on. But our human mistakes have not and should not stop us from proclaiming the Lord’s love to people out there and most importantly, to demonstrate this in deeds of charity. Inspiring examples include Mother Teresa, John Paul II, Padre Pio, every single Catholic saint, and thousands of Catholic schools, hospitals, orphanages and charities around the world.

            I can’t stop you from digging dirt on the Catholic Church to feed your own morbid biases, hatred, whatever. But I seriously doubt that it will win you any fans, nor will it put your brand of Christianity in a good light. And most importantly, I’m not quite sure that ‘your God’ (last I checked, I thought we worshiped the same God) will be approving of your so-called ‘arrogance of truth’. Did Jesus go about His earthly ministry with arrogance or charity?

            I can’t help but wonder how perfect you or your church are.

  10. Is there a need to attack the Catholic Church or just follow the debris of hubris?

    What has sinful man to do with anything – depends on your perspective – everything or nothing – if church is a man made institution, then everything. If u think it is God’s, then nothing like the monied charismatic evangelicals preaching prosperity and good health.

    Make up tr own mind what u think yr reality is.

    1. Journeyman, was the early church (from the Jesus’ apostles onwards) made up of mortal men or angels? Were they ‘perfect’ or sinful persons like you and me?

      1. Think u already know the answer – over 2000years there is alot of accumulated hubris until the chap starts pouring out faster with social media. When the chasm between reality and dogma becomes too wide to be rational – the Catholic Church will have be radically reformed or go extinct or become as xenophobic and antisocial I’ll as some groups. God help us when every religious nut becomes a social pathetic zealot. Maybe it will be the end of the world as we know it.

        1. Or the Catholic Church will continue to be a bedrock of stability and objectivity in an increasingly unstable and ‘relative’ world, as it had in the last 2000 years (mostly).

          Many people before you already predicted the Catholic Church’s extinction many times, but despite its human failings, it is the only human institution in history to have survived relatively intact for so long. Logic suggests that there’s gotta be divine intervention. 🙂

  11. I am not God or a prophet -some of these had to wait many decades before the predicted event came to past. The Catholic has survived by having a robust economic system – without continues resources no human institution cm survive. Am of the view that being lucky all the time(most of the time) is probably a very divine blessing.

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