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Pope Francis on Gays: The Church Cannot 'Interfere Spiritually in the Life of a Person'

Pope Francis has given a wide-ranging interview to America magazine in which he gives his most extensive remarks to date on the role of the church with regard to homosexuality, as well as abortion and contraception.

FrancisSays Francis:

“We need to proclaim the Gospel on every street corner,” the pope says, “preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing, even with our preaching, every kind of disease and wound. In Buenos Aires 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. During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.

“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. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.

He later adds that the Catholic Church needs to end its obsession with abortion and gay marriage:

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

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  1. He seems like a nicer man than his predecessors. Still, I kind of hope the RCC leadership continues to marginalize itself with reactionary positions until most people finally recognize them for the irrelevant collection of sh*tbags they really are.

    Posted by: DW | Sep 19, 2013 11:32:58 AM

  2. Wow! I hope all the priests around the world read this and think on it in depth. Let's see what happens now.

    Posted by: Jack M | Sep 19, 2013 11:33:11 AM

  3. History will look back and see this as a turning point. This will be a historically significant Pope.

    Posted by: Kerry | Sep 19, 2013 11:36:13 AM

  4. I hope this pope lives to be 150 years old.

    Posted by: Adam L | Sep 19, 2013 11:37:33 AM

  5. How did the RCC ever allow a somewhat reasonable man to become Pope? It sounds like there may be changes on the horizon. How do we get the Evangelicals on board?

    Posted by: jsb | Sep 19, 2013 11:38:09 AM

  6. Despite my better judgement, I actually like this man. Not enough to make me go back to religion in general, or believe in the nonsense of the Catechism in particular, but he seems like a genuinely good person.

    Posted by: Rich F. | Sep 19, 2013 11:43:12 AM

  7. Pope Francis is definitely a "sleeper" Pope. People thought he was very conservative but guess what? Not so much it seems. I imagine many of the more conservative Cardinals are kicking themselves for voting for him. How dare he actually care about the poor and hungry and not condemn gay marriage and abortion 24/7. Its almost as if the Pope was actually listening to his people and not the Vatican echo chamber. Right now I expect Timothy Dolan's head to explode.

    Posted by: KT | Sep 19, 2013 11:45:07 AM

  8. Yes, a positive step, but his comments still have the tone that homosexuality is a "sin" or that gay people are somehow "less" than straight people and in greater need of God's mercy/compassion and that of the church. He seems to fall short of saying that gay people are as good as others and, because they are equal in God's eyes, they should not be treated any differently by the church. We are not in need of any extra mercy/pity/compassion/forgiveness because of our God-given sexual orientation.

    Posted by: Joseph | Sep 19, 2013 11:46:32 AM

  9. Well, if nothing else, Pope Francis has caused readers of Towleroad to say nice things about a pope. That alone is quite an achievement!

    My guess is that Catholic theology will not change its view of the sinfulness of homosexual behavior. It is likely that Francis is making these statements to show that not all people who oppose gay rights measures are hateful - and to indicate that he knows traditionalists are losing the fight against gay marriage. He is trying to get Catholics to accept the fact that gay rights/marriage will join the long list of policies/practices that are widely accepted in civil society but that will always be opposed officially by the church.

    He's being a realist rather than a liberal.

    Posted by: Mary | Sep 19, 2013 11:52:20 AM

  10. @JSB We don't want evangelicals on board. They're heretics.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Sep 19, 2013 11:54:37 AM

  11. "The Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing:

    Take off your pants and bend over, son"

    It's a joke for the RCC to preach about homosexuality, when the church is sinking in gay priests hiding behind their vestments.

    Posted by: jtramon | Sep 19, 2013 12:00:13 PM

  12. To those criticizing (or will criticize him)for taking baby steps and not taking big leaps and bounds, remember where Democratic elected officials and leaders were almost 20 years ago on gay issues (or even where they were in the 1960's with civil rights). Nothing happens overnight and entrenched institutes (religion and political parties) take time. It is harder for an institute of this size and LONG history to change as fast as people want. The top officials of any organization usually changes when the grassroots start changing and there is a LEADER who then starts the ball rolling.

    Will the Catholic Church be where many want it to be on certain issues like gays in most of our life times? Probably not, but looking back most of us will notice a discernible change in the right direction.

    Posted by: Tommy | Sep 19, 2013 12:01:23 PM

  13. Too be fair, THIS is technically a conservative value. Conservatives in the USA are bananas, they are like... evil-librals.

    Also, this guy just declared war on the American Catholic League and all American Catholics. THIS IS AMAZING! 100% of all money given to the Catholic church in America is used to fight abortion, buy out and ruin hospitals and lobby for draconian laws. Any goodwill they actually, somehow accomplish is only because whatever gave then the money for it also legally stipulated the good work that would have to be done to receive it.

    Hopefully he will also get everyone to treat women with some modicum of respect, maybe he doesn't want to be assassinated.

    Posted by: Fenrox | Sep 19, 2013 12:02:50 PM

  14. Total bullsh-t. The entire purpose of the Church is to interfere in everyone's life. The human race would benefit infinitely if this man and the Church went away forever.

    Posted by: Justin | Sep 19, 2013 12:04:19 PM

  15. that's the sound of the nail in NOM's coffin.
    time to get a real job, brian.

    Posted by: woody | Sep 19, 2013 12:08:19 PM

  16. Progress not perfection.

    Posted by: whatthefuck | Sep 19, 2013 12:08:31 PM

  17. No, but close, Mr. His Popeness. God (in his/her infinite wisdom) created homosexuals. It's up to you (silly maroon) to accept that as mere fact...or not. We're waiting.

    Posted by: Geoff | Sep 19, 2013 12:18:02 PM

  18. My prediction: this pope will die suddenly in his sleep from some undiagnosed "illness" and be buried without an autopsy, as is the custom. It has happened before and will happen again. Then the cardinals can try again and elect someone more along the lines of "cardinal rottweiler."

    Posted by: Alex Parrish | Sep 19, 2013 12:18:24 PM

  19. "Total bullsh-t. The entire purpose of the Church is to interfere in everyone's life. The human race would benefit infinitely if this man and the Church went away forever."

    The Church spends more than $150 billion a year on hospitals, schools, charities, etc., worldwide. Who or what would fill that vacuum? My or your personal issues aside, I think the human race would very much suffer if the Church went away forever.

    The world is more than just your penis.

    Posted by: Reasonable | Sep 19, 2013 12:22:19 PM

  20. FENROX - just to help you be accurate and unbiased: money given to the local parish (church) by the donors stays with that church. It pays the bills, is put into savings, may even be invested to turn a little profit and help other programs generally sponsored by the parish. The bulk of the money is not funneled to the Diocese and then straight to Rome. Most Diocese have a program by which people can donate directly to the Diocese. That money stays with the Diocese, it is not funneled to Rome. Diocese have bills too. In most States parishes are incorporated at the local level, they are not a franchise of the Diocese.

    Posted by: iowan | Sep 19, 2013 12:23:00 PM

  21. @ REASONABLE - the Church is also responsible for wars, endless persecution, the rape and abuse of children, etc etc etc. That's great they build hospitals, but it doesn't change the essence of its belief, in that we are imperfect and are condemned to Hell. This is why anything the Pope says - anything at all - is meaningless. He's the head of a truly evil organization, and I hope it falls.

    Posted by: Justin | Sep 19, 2013 12:29:44 PM

  22. @Justin, yes there are bad things about the church, but I think the good far outweighs the bad. There will be bad apples in any organization. There is no escaping that. I'm not religious, but I respect the Catholic church and other religious institutions who are genuinely trying to do good in the world.

    Posted by: Luke | Sep 19, 2013 12:41:43 PM

  23. Justin, I happen to think your view is very extreme (calling it a "truly evil organization" seems like hyperbole even for a detractor), but you've had your own set of experiences and are entitled to your opinion.

    Imputing on to the Church of today the sins of centuries ago (is that what you mean by "responsible for wars"?), and hoping that the world's largest charitable organization falls because of the egregious crimes of some of its representatives and leaders seems to me to be somewhat unfair to the global community served by the Church.

    I also think your characterization of the "essence of its belief" to be a misguided distillation and actually flatly incorrect.

    Personally, I see an institution with tremendous flaws, but one that, in the balance, also does a tremendous amount of good throughout the world. To me, it would be unfortunate if the millions (billions?) of people who are fed, treated, and educated by the Church (seeking nothing in return) were abandoned because we took such a myopic view.

    Posted by: Reasonable | Sep 19, 2013 12:42:49 PM

  24. I just wonder who made up all these Church teachings? They are mostly not in the Bible. Why the Pope as the head of the Church doesn't have the authority to change the rules? Francis still doesn't have the courage to overcome the opposition of his cardinals to lead the Church into the 21th century.

    Posted by: simon | Sep 19, 2013 12:49:11 PM

  25. There are many issues the church has gone silent on over the centuries. The inquisition hasn't burned anyone at the stake for years now. People aren't in need of treatment for demon possession. Various Old Testament rules regarding food, dress, religious ceremony and so forth have fallen into disuse. It's the church's way of changing old habits without admitting they are doing so.

    Posted by: anon | Sep 19, 2013 12:50:31 PM

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