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.


  1. DW says

    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.

  2. Rich F. says

    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.

  3. KT says

    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.

  4. Joseph says

    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.

  5. Mary says

    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.

  6. jtramon says

    “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.

  7. Tommy says

    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.

  8. Fenrox says

    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.

  9. Justin says

    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.

  10. Geoff says

    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.

  11. Alex Parrish says

    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.”

  12. Reasonable says

    “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.

  13. iowan says

    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.

  14. Justin says

    @ 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.

  15. Luke says

    @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.

  16. Reasonable says

    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.

  17. simon says

    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.

  18. anon says

    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.

  19. Francis #1 says

    Obviously, it’s clear that the Pope is against homosexuality in terms of Catholic teaching, but he says that the focus shouldn’t be on judging people and condemning them as sinners but instead bringing them into the fold and accepting them as God’s children. Same with contraception, abortion, Muslims.

    The most eye-catching things he said to me were: “I have never been a right-winger.”

    And: “We should not even think that thinking with the church means thinking with the hierarchy.”

    No, the policies of the church may not change, and the views on things such as homosexuality and abortion, but this Pope is a refreshing breath of fresh air. You can believe certain things without judging how others believe and that’s what he’s doing. And that’s a big deal. He’s the Pope!

  20. John says

    I’m glad to see more positive comments about the Pope and the Church than in the past. But it’s disappointing to still see so many dismissive comments that border on straight up anti-religious animus. Remember in 2008 when the gay community rallied around Obama, our “fierce advocate” who didn’t even support same-sex marriage and has yet to issue an executive order regarding nondiscrimination in federal employment and contracting?

    Why do you expect perfection from the Pope, who leads an institution that teaches that sexuality outside a Church-sanctioned marriage is sinful, but give a pass to Obama, who leads a country built on the idea that all men are created equal?

    You would think that rather than constantly excusing Obama’s inaction on a variety of LGBT issues, the community would be denouncing him more vociferously than it does the Pope.

  21. Daniel Berry, NYC says

    from a practical standpoint, is the pope indicating that church leadership has no business interfering with gay people’s participating in the sacramental life of the church — that they need to stop denying communion to gay people and their supporters?

  22. Jay says

    “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.”

    Hey Frankie – I appreciate your dissembling to find a way to make the church not look so hostile. But you either still use the guilt/sin schtick you have inherited or worse…you don’t use it..you believe it.

    The Holy Spirit inspires the priest? Is this something new? The Big Spook is now speaking to priests and helping to temper evil words? I wish Ghostie was around when I was coming up…it would have been nice if the priests I knew helped rather than hurt my spirit.

    People make apologies for some political leaders. But no one should make apologies for spiritual leaders. Vulnerable people place their very spirit in your hands…its up to you to decide if you have the capacity to see the human for the fragile being he/she is and to help that individual fully realize the beautiful person they are… Or you use your BS training and big book of myths to condemn, no matter how soft spoken. You are still doing the latter…and you are saying your deity guides the same behavior in all your priests.

    Until you reject your churches historical past atrocities and move into love and light, you and your church are nothing more than organized, violent criminals.

  23. UFFDA says

    REASONABLE. You have lived up to your namesake. The ancient, pre-Christian world was unremittingly brutal, the Church gained its initial hold through the transmitted teachings of Jesus Christ which emphasized tolerance, love and kindness. These helped create a far more humane world even though, with time, Christ was corrupted into a supernatural folk hero and moral policeman, i.e. a tool for new forms of cruelty and intolerance. Still, it is all -generally (perhaps arguably) – much better than it once was.

  24. UFFDA says

    REASONABLE. You have lived up to your namesake. The ancient, pre-Christian world was unremittingly brutal, the Church gained its initial hold through the transmitted teachings of Jesus Christ which emphasized tolerance, love and kindness. These helped create a far more humane world even though, with time, Christ was corrupted into a supernatural folk hero and moral policeman, i.e. a tool for new forms of cruelty and intolerance. Still, it is all -generally (perhaps arguably) – much better than it once was.

  25. Fenrox says

    @Iowan, yeah, look at what they actually spend on a little closer. Tithes in America go to lobbying. Sure a lot is used for maintenance, but if the actual focal point of your work is just stopping abortion, destroying hospitals and lobbying, then your maintenance is part of the problem. You actual donation does not go to any positive program, those funds are government contracts or local contracts that the church gets to keep up their illusion of helping. To go a tad further, any and all help they provide always comes with a catch and when confronted with those catches they always shut the program down and abandon it.

  26. LiamB says

    @Reasonable, @Uffda, you are naive if you think the church’s misdeeds are ancient history. Do some research on “Mother Teresa,” she was far from the compassionate loving saint the church portrays, and her order continues to misappropriate millions meant to help the sick and needy in India. There is a reason those hell holes are called ‘Houses of Death.’

    I might also point out that the abuses by the church are hardly ancient history, and are still happening today. While I do admit this pope seems to be trying to get them to take responsibility for the wrongs, the rest of the church hierarchy seems content in continuing to shield abusers from justice and blame the victims.

    As for the charitable organizations, yes those do help some, but let’s not forget that the church is quick to shut those serves down the second a local secular government dares to institute non-discrimination laws. Homeless outreaches, closed. Orphanages, closed. How exactly is that helping people? Hospitals, sure, but how often do we hear about church ran ones refusing to perform services because of “religious” reasons?

    The church doing token works of good don’t magically negate the huge amount of wrong also done. Nor does it somehow free it from criticism.

  27. andrew says

    Pope Francis seems to be a genuinely good and kind man. His Church, along with the many negative and evil things that it does, also does many good things. There are many Nuns, Priests and Brothers who work hard in the service of their fellow man. That is great. However, it doesn’t change the reality that his religion like all the worlds religions, which are human creations, are based on ancient books and myths that knew nothing about the real universe. The man made gods are so small, silly and childish that they are an insult to the splendor of the real universe. If there be a creator god, surely it isn’t one of the little gods created in the image and likeness of man.

  28. Justin says

    @REASONABLE: The charity work of the Catholic Church is nice, but the bad faaaaaaar outweighs the good, come on. They are a totalitarian organization that demands all or nothing from its followers. They can dress it up however they want, but the essence is that you must believe or you are going to Hell. Be nice to gays now, but one day they will burn in Hell. That is why it is intrinsically evil. It all goes back to a book of lies that has been used by the powerful to oppress mankind for 2,000 years. It is profoundly immoral and dangerous.

  29. Richard says

    This is a very positive development. It informs rabidly homophobic archbishops — such as Dolan, Cordileone, and Nienstedt — that they’re out of step with the church, history, and basic humanity.

  30. Jay says

    I am happy that the Pope seems compassionate. I will believe that the Church itself is following him when teachers and janitors and other employees of Catholic schools and dioceses are no longer fired when it is discovered that they are gay. I will believe it when the Archbishops of Minneapolis and New York and Chicago and San Francisco and Denver quit railing against same=sex marriage. I will believe it when the Catholic Church no longer funds the National Organization for Marriage.

  31. Rafael says

    @JOSEPH I agree. While there is reservation in his tone, I believe this is a first step towards reconciliation.

    Mark 3:25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

  32. simon says

    Of course the Pope is fighting a losing battle on SSM in Western Europe. Is he saying he is not going to voice the Church’s opposition when SSM is debated in Germany or Italy?

  33. TX Dad says

    LOL at the religious loons clinching to this story and trying to preach their creepy sermons. Your religion is still a money making, man made machine with very little value.

  34. Ryan says

    This stuff is a great step and, while I’d love for him to officially reverse positions instantly, I have the feeling that the bishops would revolt. My hope — and almost expectation — is within another 10 or so years, especially as society progresses and some church-leader dinosaurs die off/retire, that then this Pope will be able to make the official changes.

    It’s a trust-but-verify thing, though, so we should continue to push from our end as much as possible. If ever the Catholic Church did reverse its position on marriage equality, though, it would be huge. It’s worth the effort to continue to push and continue to have these conversations.

  35. Martin says

    Religious gays are NOT to trusted. They will always choose their religion over LGBT. Religious gays speak more crap about the gay community than any other entity, including hetero religious folks. They want to prove themselves.

  36. COJ says

    Religion is still a fairy tale that feeds into so much discrimination and judgment. Religion essentially mandates being something you’re not. Religion hinders freedoms.

  37. Rich says

    Personally, I have no use for organized religion. Nonetheless, I live in a world where most people do feel the need for one. Thank you, Pope Francis, for making yours less hurtful and hateful.

  38. millerbeach says

    I did not think I could love this man any more than I already do, and then he goes and says something wonderful like this! OMG! He gets it! He really gets it! Rock on, Pope Francis! :)

  39. millerbeach says

    Hey, where is Cardinal Timmy Dolan on this one? What do you say, Timmy? How do you like your boss now? Meet the new boss…NOT the same as the old boss….I laugh at you, Cardinal Tim…all that hatred, as wasted as you are. Listen to your boss, Timmy.

  40. Reasonable says

    “Reasonable, F-CK YOU and your catholic religion. You flthy religious nut job!”


    You try to explain that in your view, the world is mostly made up of grays, and not just black and white…and you get called a filthy religious nutjob.

    You sound like the fundamentalists you think you’re lambasting by cursing me out.

  41. wakeUp says

    gayism or lesbianis is a spritual issue. a man possesed by the “female” evil sprit will think and behave like a woman. and that a woman possessed with a “man” spirit will have the “man” role in a lesbian relationship.

    If you believe in Jesus Christ, think who Jesus was. The holy spirit was fully upon him, and so when Jesus walked on this earth, he was a human being and a divine God at the same time. the analogue is easier when you think about yourself. You are composed of your flesh, your soul. but no says here is your soul and here is your flesh. for they are bound together and are separated when you die. so lets not hate Gays and Lesbians, but try to understand there is a major assault from the unseen world. This spirit is taking over like no any other time before. They only way out is to kneel down and worship the only true God – the lord Eyesus Christos. Think and act, science will never understand this apart from giving names after names for conditions.

  42. No longer Catholic says

    The Catholic Church is finished!!!! It is a homosexuals church!!! That what they are!!!! The men and women got into the church to hide and carry their dirty job!!! O my God!!!! It is a shame!!!! The worst thing is the people are still going to homosexuals church–they too are fools!!!!

  43. No longer Catholic says

    He himself might be homosexual!!! He is not teaching or addressing what God said in the bible about homosexuals. What does this tell us???? The true Christians need to get up and make their own hearts their churches!!!! Everyone is corrupt!!! Religious groups have no fear of God anymore, and the Catholic religion is the worst of all.

  44. No longer Catholic says

    How can a homosexuals/Lesbians can worship God???? They are like animals. Even an animal is better than this you call homosexual/lesbian. Someone who is abnormal and uses an organ created for a dirt uses for sex??? All they can think is sex!!! Only animals do that!!! What about HOLY LIFE??? Live for God!!! My God—how can these people go to sleep. This a sick world–and God has to do something!!!!

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