While on the plane during World Youth day 2013, the Pope had a press conference. The reporters on hand asked him different questions, but one has been very popular and spun in so many ways with the media.
“Pope Francis says Gays are OKAY,” “Pope Francis approves of Gay Priests,” “Pope Francis Contradicts Pope Benedict XVI,” the titles go on and on, but you get the point. The media immediately misinterpreted Pope Francis’ answer into a statement of approval of the gay lifestyle.
Let me backtrack a bit. Pope Francis was asked about the so-called “Gay Lobby” at the Vatican to which he responded:
“There is so much being written about the gay lobby. I haven’t met anyone in the Vatican yet who has “gay” written on their identity cards. There is a distinction between being gay, being this way inclined and lobbying. Lobbies are not good. If a gay person is in eager search of God, who am I to judge them? The Catholic Church teaches that gay people should not be discriminated against; they should be made to feel welcome. Being gay is not the problem, lobbying is the problem and this goes for any type of lobby, business lobbies, political lobbies and Masonic lobbies.”
The underlined words in bold are what is causing a media frenzy. From these words, the media and others have come to the conclusion that the Pope is endorsing the LGBT agenda. However, this is not the case at all. If one listens to the interview, one can understand the context. Cherry picking words and phrases often brings about these gossip-type situations. The media is like the telephone game where the message changes as it travels. Anyhow, the Pope was speaking on those “gays” or better said; homosexuals who search for God with good intentions.
In other words, Homosexuals who are Catholic, or even in the priesthood or religious life and strive to follow Christ’s teachings in the Church are okay and no one should judge them for having homosexual tendencies. These people are courageous because despite having this condition, they strive to live a chaste life in accordance with the Church’s teachings and do not give in to the desires of the flesh. So the Pope is saying that priests who are homosexual, but are following the Lord with good will should not be subject to judgment. These priests have homosexual tendencies, but do not let it get the best of them.
There is nothing heretical about this. This is what the Catechism states on the matter:
Chastity and homosexuality
2357 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,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 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.
2358 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 fulfill 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.
2359 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.
My only issue with the Pope’s words is the use of the word “Gay.” He should have said ‘Homosexual’ instead to make the distinction between the condition (Homosexual) and a person living the lifestyle (Gay). In any event, the reporter used the word in the question, so the Pope probably used it again in order to keep the answer coherent.
Something similar was done to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI when his comments regarding condoms were taken out of context.
It is important to verify news before believing its contents. I waited almost three days in order to post this because I wanted to see the interview in its raw form without any extra audio feeds or translations of sorts. Once I saw the interview, I understood that the Pope was speaking in a pastoral manner without contradicting Church teaching.