Pope clarifies homosexuality and sin comments in note

The AP Interview Pope Francis Papacy

By Nicole Winfield

Pope Francis has clarified his recent comments about homosexuality and sin, saying he was merely referring to official Catholic moral teaching which labels any sexual act outside of marriage a sin. And in a note Friday, Francis recalled even that black-and-white teaching is subject to circumstances which might eliminate the sin altogether.

Francis first made the comments in an interview on January 24th with The Associated Press, in which he declared that laws criminalising homosexuality were “unjust” and that “being homosexual is not a crime”.

As he often does, Francis then imagined a conversation with someone who raised the matter of the church’s official teaching, which states that homosexual acts are sinful, or “intrinsically disordered”.

“Fine, but first let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime,” Francis said in the pretend conversation.

“It’s also a sin to lack charity with one another.”

His comments calling for the decriminalisation of homosexuality were hailed by LGBTQ advocates as a milestone that would help end harassment and violence against LGBTQ persons.

But his reference to “sin” raised questions about whether he believed that merely being gay was itself a sin.

The Rev James Martin, an American Jesuit who runs the US-based Outreach ministry for LGBTQ Catholics, asked Francis for clarification and printed the pope’s handwritten response on the Outreach website late on Friday.

In his note, Francis reaffirmed that homosexuality “is not a crime”, and said he spoke out “in order to stress that criminalisation is neither good nor just”.

“When I said it is a sin, I was simply referring to Catholic moral teaching, which says that every sexual act outside of marriage is a sin,” Francis wrote in Spanish, underlining the final phrase.

But in a nod to his case-by-case approach to pastoral ministry, Francis noted even that teaching is subject to consideration of the circumstances, “which may decrease or eliminate fault”.

He acknowledged he could have been clearer in his comments to the AP. But he said he was using “natural and conversational language” in the interview that did not call for precise definitions.

“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,” he said.

Some 67 countries or jurisdictions worldwide criminalise consensual same-sex sexual activity, 11 of which can or do impose the death penalty, according to The Human Dignity Trust, which works to end such laws.

Experts say even where the laws are not enforced, they contribute to harassment, stigmatisation and violence against LGBTQ people.

Catholic teaching forbids gay marriage, holding that the sacrament of marriage is a lifelong bond between a man and a woman. It reserves intercourse for married couples while forbidding artificial contraception.

In his decade-long pontificate, Francis has upheld that teaching but has made outreach to LGBTQ people a priority. He has stressed a more merciful approach to applying church doctrine, to accompany people rather than judge them.

Complete Article HERE!

It shouldn’t seem so surprising when the pope says being gay ‘isn’t a crime’

— A Catholic theologian explains

Pope Francis leads the second vespers service at St. Paul’s Basilica on Jan. 25, 2023, in Rome.

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Once again, Pope Francis has called on Catholics to welcome and accept LGBTQ people.

“Being homosexual isn’t a crime,” the pope said in an interview with The Associated Press on Jan. 24, 2023, adding, “let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime.” He also called for the relaxation of laws around the world that target LGBTQ people.

Francis’ long history of making similar comments in support of LGBTQ people’s dignity, despite the church’s rejection of homosexuality, has provoked plenty of criticism from some Catholics. But I am a public theologian, and part of what interests me about this debate is that Francis’ inclusiveness is not actually radical. His remarks generally correspond to what the church teaches and calls on Catholics to do.

‘Who am I to judge?’

During the first year of Francis’ papacy, when asked about LGBTQ people, he famously replied, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” – setting the tone for what has become a pattern of inclusiveness.

He has given public support more than once to James Martin, a Jesuit priest whose efforts to build bridges between LGBTQ people and the Catholic Church have been a lightning rod for criticism. In remarks captured for a 2020 documentary, Francis expressed support for the legal protections that civil unions can provide for LGBTQ people.

And now come the newest remarks. In his recent interview, the pope said the church should oppose laws that criminalize homosexuality. “We are all children of God, and God loves us as we are and for the strength that each of us fights for our dignity,” he said, though he differentiated between “crimes” and actions that go against church teachings.

Compassion, not doctrinal change

The pope’s support for LGBTQ people’s civil rights does not change Catholic doctrine about marriage or sexuality. The church still teaches – and will certainly go on teaching – that any sexual relationship outside a marriage is wrong, and that marriage is between a man and a woman. It would be a mistake to conclude that Francis is suggesting any change in doctrine.

A crowd of people in jackets look up at a tall cross in front of them.
A rosary march in Warsaw in 2019 ended with a prayer apologizing to God for pride parades in Poland.

Rather, the pattern of his comments has been a way to express what the Catholic Church says about human dignity in response to rapidly changing attitudes toward the LGBTQ community across the past two decades. Francis is calling on Catholics to take note that they should be concerned about justice for all people.

The Catholic Church has condemned discrimination against LGBTQ people for many years, even while it describes homosexual acts as “intrinsically disordered” in its catechism. Nevertheless, some bishops around the world support laws that criminalize homosexuality – which Francis acknowledged, saying they “have to have a process of conversion.”

The “law of love embraces the entire human family and knows no limits,” the Vatican office concerned with social issues said in a 2005 compilation of the church’s social thought.

In 2006, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recognized that LGBTQ people “have been, and often continue to be, objects of scorn, hatred, and even violence.” And expressing care for other human persons – “especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted” by the indifference or oppression of others – represents obligations for all Catholics to embrace.

As the Francis papacy now nears the end of its 10th year, it is becoming more and more common to hear Catholic leaders attempting to make LGBTQ people feel included in the church. Chicago’s Cardinal Blase Cupich has called on pastors to “redouble our efforts to be creative and resilient in finding ways to welcome and encourage all LGBTQ people.” New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan has welcomed LGBTQ groups in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, against the wishes of many New York Catholics.

In this most recent interview, Francis emphasized that being LGBTQ is “a human condition,” calling Catholics to see other people less through the eyes of doctrine and more through the eyes of mercy.

A new ‘political reality’

The rapid change that has happened in prevailing social attitudes about the LGBTQ community in recent decades has been difficult to process for a church that has never reacted quickly. This is especially because the questions those developments raise touch on a gray area where moral teaching intersects with social realities outside the church.

For decades, church leaders have been working to reconcile the church with the modern world, and Francis is stepping in places where other Catholic bishops have already trodden.

In 2018, for example, German bishops reacting to the legalization of gay marriage acknowledged that acceptance of LGBTQ relationships is a new “political reality.”

Two same-sex couples stand in a church.
An LGBTQ couple embraces after a pastoral worker blesses them at a Catholic church in Germany, in defiance of practices approved by Rome.

There are signs that parts of the church are moving even more quickly. Catholics in Germany, in particular, have called for changes to church teaching, including permission for priests to bless same-sex couples and the ordination of married men.

The next chapter

But those actions are outliers. Francis has criticized the German calls for reform as “elitist” and ideological. When it comes to the civil rights of LGBTQ people, the pope is not changing church teaching, but describing it.

I believe the challenge the Vatican faces is to imagine the space that the church can occupy in this new reality, as it has had to do in the face of numerous social and political changes across centuries. But the imperative, as Francis suggests, is to serve justice and to seek justice for all people with mercy above all.

Catholics – including bishops, and even the pope – can think, and are thinking, imaginatively about that challenge.

Complete Article HERE!

Pope Benedict Reaches from Beyond the Grave to Claim ‘Gay Clubs’ Exist in Priesthood

Pope Benedict XVI acknowledges the crowd during an audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Oct.24, 2007. A January 2022 report faulted his handling of several sex abuse cases.

Pope Benedict XVI may have died a month ago, but is reaching beyond the grave to shade Pope Francis, according to The Telegraph.

“In a blistering attack on the state of the Catholic Church under his successor’s papacy, Benedict, who died on Dec 31 at the age of 95, said that the vocational training of the next generation of priests is on the verge of ‘collapse.'”

He also said gay “clubs” operate openly in Catholic seminaries, the institutions that prepare men for the priesthood, and that some bishops allow trainee priests to watch pornographic films as an outlet for their sexual urges.

“Benedict gave instructions that the book, ‘What Christianity Is,’ should be published after his death. It is one of a handful of recent books by conservative Vatican figures which have poured scorn on the decade-old papacy of Francis, who was elected after his predecessor’s historic resignation in 2013,” The Telegraph said.

“The existence of ‘homosexual clubs’ is particularly prevalent in the US, Benedict said in his book, adding: ‘In several seminaries, homosexual clubs operate more or less openly.'”

Benedict also claimed his books were targeted as being “dangerously traditionalist” by more liberal elements in the Church.

“In not a few seminaries, students caught reading my books are considered unworthy for the priesthood. My books are concealed as dangerous literature and are read only in hiding.”

In October, Pope Francis spoke out against church members watching porn, including nuns. “He made the remarks in October, saying that indulging in porn is a danger to the soul and a way of succumbing to the malign influence of ‘the devil.'”

Complete Article HERE!

Homophobic priest accused of trying to cure homosexuality…through sex with men

Msgr. Tony Anatrella.

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A notoriously anti-gay priest in Paris will face trial within the Catholic Church over his self-professed attempts to “cure” homosexuality. His method: have sex with men.

Msgr. Tony Anatrella has a long history of campaigning against LGBTQ rights initiatives inside and outside the church. In 2005, he authored an article supporting a ban on LGBTQ people from serving in the priesthood. The following year, he claimed gay men raise “violent” children, and further supported a ban on same-sex marriage equality. He further described homosexuality as a “confusion of sex and feelings leads to a confusion of the realities and an impasse.”

Anatrella’s stance on homosexuality boggles the mind considering his decades-long history of sexual assault of other men. The National Catholic Reporter reports that allegations against Anatrella have circulated for more than 20 years. In 2006, a former seminarian named Daniel Lamarca claimed Anatrella sexually assaulted him during therapy sessions in the 1980s. Lamaraca, a gay man, had sought counsel from Anatrella over his own feelings of homosexuality. He claims Anatrella’s therapeutic approach was to insist the two have sex.

“I know details about Anatrella’s body that could only be known to someone who has seen him naked,” the man told reporters in 2006, adding that he tried to report the abuse in 2001 to church authorities but received no response.

More accusations against Anatrella surfaced in 2008, and again in 2016, leading to a reprimand by the church which banned him from practicing therapy, performing mass or preaching in public. Then, in 2019, a grandfather who attended a school where Anatrella served as a chaplain, accused the priest of rape. The victim claims that Anatrella forced him to have sex; at the time, he was just 14-years-old.

In an even more unusual move, at least one priest claims he has warned church leadership for years about Anatrella’s predatory behavior to no avail. Fr. Philippe Lefebvre has authored rebuttals and polemics against Anatrella’s teachings about homosexuality. He also claims Anatrella’s victims approached him personally for help.

“I told seven French bishops and the president of the Conference of French Bishops,” Lefebvre said. “I did not get any reply. Nothing happened. What happened is that, when my name came up in the press, I was told to be careful and not to criticize Tony Anatrella because he was somebody important in the Vatican.”

At the time of this writing, it remains unclear what when Anatrella’s church trial will begin and what charges he will face. Catholic trials carry strict secrecy requirements, and the details of them seldom are made public. As a psychotherapist, Anatrella, now 80, has authored more than a dozen books, mostly about the evils of homosexuality.

Complete Article HERE!

Critics attack Des Moines diocese’s gender-identity policies

— Critics are attacking the Diocese of Des Moines’ new gender-identity policies, calling them hateful and discriminatory

Bishop William M. Joensen

Critics are attacking the Diocese of Des Moines’ new gender-identity policies, calling them hateful and discriminatory.

The policies will go into effect on Jan. 16, the Des Moines Register reported Saturday. The policies have not yet been released to the public. The Des Moines Register’s report was based on details of the policies first reported by KCCI-TV, which obtained documents outlining the regulations.

The new rules ban the use of preferred pronouns during ministry, require people to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their birth sex and wear clothes that match their birth sex. Students will be allowed to participate only in sports and activities that are “consistent” with their biological sex.

The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa condemned the policies as “dangerous” and said they promote bigotry toward transgender Iowans.

Courtney Reyes, executive director of the LGBTQ+ organization One Iowa, said the diocese shouldn’t portray itself as compassionate.

“You cannot pretend to be compassionate while mis-gendering people and denying them access to any and all spaces under your control,” Reyes said.

Democratic state Sen. Claire Celsi wrote on Facebook: “This is not what Jesus would do.”

“To actually come out, and say, ‘We’re going to stamp this out, we’re going to pretend like it doesn’t exist,’ and issue this kind of edict is, I think, reprehensible,” she told the Register.

Anne Marie Cox, the diocese’s communications director, said the polices came out of a lengthy process to address questions from Catholic school and church leaders.

John Robbins, communications director for the Archdiocese of Dubuque, said the archdiocese doesn’t tell other Iowa dioceses what to do. The archdiocese has previously stated that it “cannot go along with the idea that people can choose and change their gender” but is “open to other perspectives, to see if might find truth there, or to seek common ground, or to promote acceptance, even if we don’t agree.”

Complete Article HERE!