Gay people are ‘children of God’, says Francis

— “To criminalise people with homosexual tendencies is an injustice.”

Pope Francis speaks to journalist during his customary in-flight press conference on the papal plane.

By Christopher Lamb , Michael Sean Winters

Pope Francis has reiterated his call for the decriminalisation of homosexuality, stating that to condemn gay people as some clergy do is a sin.

Speaking on the flight from Juba to Rome after his ecumenical pilgrimage to South Sudan, the Pope said that gay people “are children of God, and God loves them, he accompanies them”.

“To criminalise people with homosexual tendencies is an injustice,” said Francis.

“I am not talking about groups, but people. You can say ‘they make groups, etc’, but they are people. Lobbies are another thing, but they are people.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who was also on the papal flight, said that he would “quote the Holy Father” at the Church of England’s general synod this week during debates on the blessing of same-sex marriages.

The Pope was responding to questions about his widely-publicised remarks in an AP interview last month, in which he called for the decriminalisation of homosexuality but seemed to suggest it was still a sin.

In the US, following the interview, the priest Fr Jim Martin SJ, who leads an apostolate to the LGBT community, published a note from Francis clarifying those comments.

“When I said [homosexuality] is a sin, I was simply referring to Catholic moral teaching, which says that every sexual act outside of marriage is a sin,” the Pope wrote.

“Of course, one must also consider the circumstances, which may decrease or eliminate fault. As you can see, I was repeating something in general. I should have said ‘It is a sin, as is any sexual act outside of marriage.’

“This is to speak of ‘the matter’ of sin, but we know well that Catholic morality not only takes into consideration the matter, but also evaluates freedom and intention; and this, for every kind of sin.”

The debate over the Pope’s remarks has accompanied controversy surrounding comments by San Diego Cardinal Robert McElroy in an article for America magazine.

McElroy stated his conviction that not all sexual sins were grave enough to warrant abstaining from communion.

He also questioned the pastoral consequences of the traditional distinction between homosexual orientation and homosexual acts.

The Archbishop of Denver, Samuel Aquila, responded to McElroy in the Denver Catholic.

“The Church recognises that someone who lives a particular way, whether it be in willing violation of natural law or some other moral category, is not in communion with the Church,” Aquila wrote.

“As Pope Francis said so simply during an in-flight interview September 15, 2021: ‘This is not a penalty: you are outside. Communion is to unite the community.’

“This is not to condemn the person but to recognise the truth of their situation and call their immortal soul to something greater.”

Aquila added: “I must admit that if I thought the way some of my brothers think I would have left the Church long ago and joined another Christian community.”

Complete Article HERE!

Pope and Protestant leaders denounce anti-gay laws

— Pope Francis and the leaders of Protestant churches in England and Scotland have denounced the criminalisation of homosexuality.

Pope Francis said those with “homosexual tendencies” should be welcomed by their churches

Speaking to reporters after visiting South Sudan, the Pope said such laws were a sin and “an injustice”.

He added people with “homosexual tendencies” are children of God and should be welcomed by their churches.

His comments were backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland.

Archbishop Justin Welby and Iain Greenshields, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, travelled with the Pope to South Sudan where they jointly called for peace in the war-torn country.

It is the first time the leaders of the three traditions have come together for such a journey in 500 years.

Archbishop Welby and Dr Greenshields praised the Pope’s comments during a news conference with reporters on board the papal plane as they travelled from Juba to Rome.

“I entirely agree with every word he said there,” said Archbishop Welby, noting that the Anglican church had its own internal divisions over gay rights.

Last month the Church of England said it would refuse to allow same-sex couples to be married in its churches.

Expressing his own support, Dr Greenshields referred to the Bible, saying: “There is nowhere in the four Gospels that I see anything other than Jesus expressing love to whoever he meets, and as Christians that is the only expression that we can give to any human being in any circumstance”.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Church of Scotland's Iain Greenshields address the media while aboard the plane from Juba to Rome
Archbishop Justin Welby (right) and the Rt Rev Iain Greenshields (left) expressed their support for the Pope’s comments in a press conference

During the news conference Pope Francis repeated his view that the Catholic Church cannot permit sacramental marriage of same-sex couples.

But he said he supported so-called civil union legislation, and stressed that laws banning homosexuality were “a problem that cannot be ignored”.

He suggested that 50 countries criminalise LGBT people “in one way or another”, and about 10 have laws carrying the death penalty.

Currently 66 UN member states criminalise consensual same-sex relations, according to ILGA World – the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

“This is not right. Persons with homosexual tendencies are children of God,” said the Pope.

“God loves them. God accompanies them… condemning a person like this is a sin.”

Under current Catholic doctrine, gay relationships are referred to as “deviant behaviour” and Pope Francis has previously said he was “worried” about the “serious matter” of homosexuality in the clergy.

But some conservative Catholics have criticised him for making comments they say are ambiguous about sexual morality.

In 2013, soon after becoming Pope, he reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s position that homosexual acts were sinful, but added that homosexual orientation was not.

Five years later, during a visit to Ireland, Pope Francis stressed that parents could not disown their LGBT children and had to keep them in a loving family.

Complete Article HERE!

Homosexuality and Hatred

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Two prominent American priests recently made important statements that indicate an attempt to shift the Catholic discussion about homosexuality.

Taking their lead from former Justice Anthony Kennedy, the father of constitutional rights for same-sex couples, Cardinal Robert McElroy of San Diego and Fr. James Martin, S.J., have both spoken recently of “hatred”—even the “demonic”—animating those who uphold traditional Christian teaching on human sexuality and chastity in regard to homosexuality. They chose a fitting model; Kennedy’s technique was massively effective.

Over several years, Kennedy wrote the majority opinions that established the Supreme Court’s same-sex jurisprudence. The first was Romer v. Evans in 1996, in which the majority overturned a Colorado ballot initiative prohibiting antidiscrimination laws on the basis of sexual orientation. Kennedy there first played the animus card: “the amendment seems inexplicable by anything but animus toward the class that it affects; it lacks a rational relationship to legitimate state interests.”

Colorado’s voters were, lacking reason, motivated by “animus.” That’s a neat maneuver, discrediting motives before getting around to the legal arguments. That would sustain Kennedy for nearly twenty years. In his final triumph, Kennedy adopted a gracious posture in Obergefell, which created a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. “Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here,” wrote Kennedy.

Yes and no, for Kennedy continued that when “sincere, personal opposition becomes enacted law and public policy, the necessary consequence is to put the imprimatur of the state itself on an exclusion that soon demeans or stigmatizes those whose own liberty is then denied.”

“Animus” returns again, this time rooted in a supposedly “decent and honorable” desire to “exclude,” “demean and stigmatize.” It is clear that Kennedy thinks decent and honorable people really think the way that he does. Those who don’t are motivated by something other than reason.

Fr. Martin writes at Outreach, “An LGBTQ Catholic Resource” run by the Jesuit America magazine, which is more or less an LGBTQ Catholic Resource itself. Fr. Martin recently employed one of his favorite techniques, which is to report in detail the nasty things that nasty people say about him on the internet. If you wish to find animus somewhere, the internet is a good place to go fishing.

In a commentary upon his own commentary—a good bit of self-referentiality here, to use the favored term of Pope Francis—about the same-sex marriage of Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Fr. Martin singles out opposition to his agenda as fueled by a special kind of hate:

The idea of two people of the same sex getting married repulses some people. . . . There is something about same-sex marriage, and same-sex relations, that unhinges some people, that infuriates them, that drives them to hysteria, enough to threaten death to people who say that it even exists.

. . . no amount of clarification will be enough for people whose rage is fueled by homophobia and hatred. No issue enrages some Catholics—not the Latin Mass, not the Synod, not Pope Francis, not women’s ordination—more than LGBTQ people. It is what sociologists call a “moral panic.” More basically, it is hatred.

These “some Catholics” do not have names, having been collected off the internet, but Fr. Martin’s point is clear. His gay-friendly Outreach is a kind of butterflies in the meadow operation over against the unhinged, hysterical rage of hate-filled homophobes. That he does not produce a credible author who is unhinged, hysterical, and hate-filled makes it easier to hurl the charge.

Meanwhile, Cardinal McElroy writes that the ongoing Catholic synodal process on synodality for a synodal Church is an excellent time to jettison various Catholic teachings, including the requirement that homosexual people strive to live chastely. I gave my view on that novelty here.

Writing in the dialogue-promoting pages of America magazine proper, Cardinal McElroy borrows a page from Fr. Martin in his estimation of those who might be attached to the Catholic tradition on chastity and other quaint virtues.

“It is a demonic mystery of the human soul why so many men and women have a profound and visceral animus toward members of the L.G.B.T. communities,” McElroy writes, deploying the same sensitive animus-detecting antennae that his fellow Californian Justice Kennedy has. “The church’s primary witness in the face of this bigotry must be one of embrace rather than distance or condemnation.”

“Demonic,” “visceral animus,” “bigotry,” “distance”—all this from McElroy in the same essay in which he includes a ritual lamentation of “polarization” in ecclesial life. It would be interesting to know whether McElroy considers the two California archbishops—Jose Gomez in Los Angeles and Salvatore Cordileone in San Francisco—to suffer from these deplorable afflictions.

There was a time when it was fashionable in self-consciously progressive Christian circles to incant the slogan that “the world sets the agenda for the Church.” In relation to homosexuality, for the likes of Martin and McElroy, it is the Court that sets the agenda for the Church—and not only the agenda, but the strategy and tactics as well.

Complete Article HERE!

Hope Is the Thing with Feather Boas

— Two small gay Catholic thoughts

By Eve Tushnet

For the New Year!

1. I’ve said this before, it’s in Tenderness, but I’ve been thinking about the way that spiritual progress can make you look gayer. I do my best to obey the guidance of Mother Church in all things (lol my best is not always that good but I do try) and I’ve noticed this dynamic in my own life more than once. I’ve seen it in others’ lives too. Coming out is, for many people, a practice of honesty and integrity: living in truth. In this interview I mentioned how when I got sober, I stopped getting weird fantasy-based, reality-fleeing “crushes” on guys; I went from “mostly gay but also bisexual???” to just lesbian, because of an extraordinary experience of healing and rescue that I received from the Lord, my Higher Power.

I’ve known people whose orientation shifted more straightwards as they healed or grew in various ways. But I want to make it clear that healing and spiritual growth can also shift people in the other direction.

Even in the area where people might expect “gay identity” to be especially fraught for Catholics, viz. chastity, I and others have seen how the same experiences that make us more obviously queer have also helped us grow in chastity. Coming out can be part of that story: it can be a way of taking responsibility for your sexuality and seeking to integrate it. I’ve written about my various *~*struggles with chastity*~* and while I uhhh have still not received that angelic girdle Aquinas got, my deepening love for a woman has brought me increased peace in that area as well. I love her, and being with her offers all kinds of help: increased accountability, but also her prayers; my greater ambition to give all my desires to God through my love of her; my deep longing to integrate body and soul, so that I can respond to her beauty in the way that she deserves.

If you see us out and about, including at Mass, you’ll likely guess that we are a lesbian couple. We are! We are also learning to live more deeply in harmony with our shared Catholic faith, the bedrock of our lives and our love.

2. I love seeing how the symbols of faith and the saints emerge to play new roles in our lives as we love one another. I’m creating a workbook companion for Tenderness, and one thing I want to include is reflection questions asking readers to interpret a hymn, Scripture passage, or symbol of faith in a way that sheds light on their experience of being LGBT+. There is so much in what we already know of God’s love that can guide and comfort us. The star that guides us to Christ, the blue of Mary’s cloak, the dove; St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Francis, St. John the Beloved; the raising of Lazarus, the empty tomb, the Resurrection: they have all gained new resonance in our life together.

Complete Article HERE!

The Catholic Church’s upcoming discussion of homosexuality

— The relaxation of doctrine for pastoral purposes is itself a Christian doctrine. Is Pope Francis headed that way?

Pope Francis speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at the Vatican, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. Francis acknowledged that Catholic bishops in some parts of the world support laws that criminalize homosexuality or discriminate against the LGBTQ community, and he himself referred to homosexuality in terms of “sin.” But he attributed attitudes to culture backgrounds, and said bishops in particular need to undergo a process of change to recognize the dignity of everyone.

By

Pope Francis stirred the pot last week by calling for an end to criminal penalties for homosexuality. “Being gay is not a crime, it’s a human condition,” he told the AP in a wide-ranging interview in Spanish.

Harking back to his famous “Who am I to judge?” remark, Francis imagined an exchange with an objector:

We are all children of God and God loves us as we are and with the strength that each one of us fights for our dignity. Being homosexual is not a crime. It is not a crime.

Yes, but it’s a sin.
Well, first let’s distinguish sin from crime. But the lack of charity with the neighbor is also a sin, and how are you doing?

In other words, who are you to judge?

It’s possible Francis was sending a message to the bishops of Africa, where he is visiting this week and where 35 of the 54 countries have anti-gay criminal laws. Bishops who support such laws, he said in the interview, “have to have a process of conversion” and should apply “tenderness, please, as God has for each one of us.”

As has almost always been the case, Francis gave no indication that he intends to change church doctrine in order to advance his inclusive vision of the church. The sole exception has been his allowing (on a case-by-case basis) people who are divorced and remarried to have access to the Eucharist. The question is whether a similar opening might be made for those in same-sex unions.



According to the Catholic Catechism, while homosexual persons “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” they are “called to chastity” — i.e. no licit sex for them. As for same-sex unions, the church will not bless them because, the Vatican declared two years ago, God “does not and cannot bless sin.”

Those teachings are likely to be up for discussion in the church-wide Synod on Synodality that will bring bishops to Rome for October sessions this year and next. Per the pope’s instructions, the preparations for it have entailed extensive consultations with ordinary Catholics.

Last September, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a report on the consultations that highlighted criticism of the church for not doing a better job of including those suffering from “the wound of marginalization.”

Among these are members of the LGBTQ+ community, persons who have been divorced or those who have remarried without a declaration of nullity, as well as individuals who have civilly married but who never married in the Church. Concerns about how to respond to the needs of these diverse groups surfaced in every synthesis.

In October, the Vatican issued a synthesis of reports from around the world that noted, “Issues such as the Church’s teaching on abortion, contraception, ordination of women, married clergy, celibacy, divorce and Holy Communion, homosexuality, LGBTQIA+ were raised up across the Dioceses both rural and urban.”

Last week, San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy, whom the pope made a cardinal last year, wrote an article in the Jesuit magazine “America” that openly questioned the exclusion of sexually active people who are not in what the church considers a legitimate marriage.



Calling such exclusion “pre-eminently a pastoral question, not a doctrinal one,” McElroy took direct aim at the church’s refusal to concede to gay people a right to same-sex sexual expression.

The distinction between orientation and activity cannot be the principal focus for such a pastoral embrace because it inevitably suggests dividing the L.G.B.T. community into those who refrain from sexual activity and those who do not. Rather, the dignity of every person as a child of God struggling in this world, and the loving outreach of God, must be the heart, soul, face and substance of the church’s stance and pastoral action.

“We must,” wrote McElroy, “examine the contradictions in a church of inclusion and shared belonging that have been identified by the voices of the people of God in our nation and discern in synodality a pathway for moving beyond them.”

It’s important to recognize that the relaxation of doctrine for pastoral purposes is itself a Christian doctrine — known in Eastern Orthodoxy as the principle of oikonomia. Based on the idea that in a fallen world there are circumstances that require doctrinal relaxation, the principle is employed within Orthodoxy, for example, to permit divorced people to be married in church a second and even a third time.

Under Francis, the synodal path appears to be leading in that direction. Whether it gets there is another question.

Complete Article HERE!