Share This Post


That timely AP interview: What, precisely, did Pope Francis say about homosexual sin?

That timely AP interview: What, precisely, did Pope Francis say about homosexual sin?
<div class="sqs-block embed-block sqs-block-embed" data-block-json="{"width":550,"height":null,"hSize":null,"html":"

\u201CPope Francis has criticized laws that criminalize homosexuality as \u2018unjust,\u2019 saying God loves all his children just as they are and called on Catholic bishops who support the laws to welcome LGBTQ people into the church\u201D\u2014 reports @AP

&mdash; Edward Pentin (@EdwardPentin) January 25, 2023

\n","url":"","resolvedBy":"twitter","floatDir":null,"providerName":"Twitter","customThumbEnabled":false}” data-block-type=”22″ id=”block-yui_3_17_2_1_1674653122027_19660″>

Let’s say that Pope Francis decides to sit down for an Associated Press interview, thus guaranteeing coverage that will appear in the maximum number of mainstream publications around the world.

The basic headline is generic, but points to newsworthy topics: “Pope discusses his health, critics and future papacy.” As you would expect, editors just love a papal interview addressing the potential for a political horse race before a Vatican election (with armies of dangerous right-wing “critics” in the wings).

Now, what angle of this interview would you expect to immediately jump into headlines and social media? Maybe something like, “The AP Interview: Pope says homosexuality not a crime.”

Obviously, the reaction have been different if AP editors had used this accurate headline (written by me), based on this interview: “The AP interview — Pope says homosexual acts are sins, not crimes.”

Hold that thought. First of all, I would like to know more about the backstory for this interview. The timing is interesting, in light of recent news linked to the death of Pope Benedict XVI (“Pope Francis meets Benedict’s top aide as memoir rattles Vatican“) and yet another powerful conservative leader (“Cardinal Pell authored controversial memo critical of Pope Francis, journalist reveals”).

It is also possible that the timing of this interview is linked to headlines such as this one, at The Telegraph: “ ‘Gay clubs’ run in seminaries, says Pope Benedict in posthumous attack on Francis: New book by the late pontiff makes extraordinary claims about the Catholic Church under his progressive successor.”

Say what? You haven’t seen coverage of this story in your local newspapers or on evening newscasts? Here is a sample of that report:

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 claimed 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. …

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.”

As you would expect, there is this non-editorial summary:

Benedict, whose conservative position on doctrinal matters contrasted with Francis’s more compassionate approach, complained that his previous books were regarded as dangerously traditionalist by some elements of the Church.

For those who are paying attention, that’s “conservative” vs. “compassionate.”

<div class="sqs-block embed-block sqs-block-embed" data-block-json="{"width":550,"height":null,"hSize":null,"html":"

Pope Francis's historic call for the decriminalization of homosexuality worldwide is an immense step forward for #LGBTQ people, their families and all who love them. This is the first time that any Pope has made such a clear statement about this issue of life and death…

&mdash; James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) January 25, 2023

\n","url":"","resolvedBy":"twitter","floatDir":null,"providerName":"Twitter","customThumbEnabled":false}” data-block-type=”22″ id=”block-yui_3_17_2_1_1674653122027_248769″>

So, what did Pope Francis say or, another way of putting that, what did the Associated Press say that Pope Francis said in the parts of the interview at the very top — the sections that are sure to be used in most publications?

Before we get to that, let’s look at what Pope Francis said in remarks that were placed near the END of the AP report, in the paragraphs that are most likely to be cut in many local and regional newspapers.

Let us attend:

… Francis said there needed to be a distinction between a crime and a sin with regard to homosexuality.

“It’s not a crime. Yes, but it’s a sin,” he said. “Fine, but first let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime.”

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

Catholic teaching holds that while gay people must be treated with respect, homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.” Francis has not changed that teaching, but he has made reaching out to the LGBTQ community a hallmark of his papacy.

Once again, we see the press burying a distinction that is absolutely critical in traditional Christian doctrine — but one that ministers of the Sexual Revolution always dismiss with a vengeance. The pope affirmed the line between “homexuality,” in terms of sexual orientation, and “homosexual acts.”

That’s a bright-red doctrinal line that is worth pondering when reading the vague language used in the rest of the AP report.

Here is the question: What does it mean to support laws “against homosexuality”? Is that same-sex orientation itself? Is that public education and advocacy on behalf of LGBTQ causes and gender theory, something Francis has attacked as an evil enemy of church teachings on marriage and family? Are these laws that attempt to ban homosexual acts, even in private?

Another question: What does Pope Francis expect bishops to do in parts of the world where laws of this kind are defended by Islamic leaders and, when Christians take public stands opposing these laws, this is used against them in public discourse?

This brings us to the key passages high in the AP report:

Pope Francis criticized laws that criminalize homosexuality as “unjust,” saying God loves all his children just as they are and called on Catholic bishops who support the laws to welcome LGBTQ people into the church.

“Being homosexual isn’t a crime,” Francis said during an exclusive interview Tuesday with The Associated Press.

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 the issue in terms of “sin.” But he attributed such attitudes to cultural backgrounds, and said bishops in particular need to undergo a process of change to recognize the dignity of everyone.

“These bishops have to have a process of conversion,” he said, adding that they should apply “tenderness, please, as God has for each one of us.”

Francis’ comments are the first uttered by a pope about such laws, but they are consistent with his overall approach to the LGBTQ community and belief that the Catholic Church should welcome everyone and not discriminate.

Here is another crucial passage:

Declaring such laws “unjust,” Francis said the Catholic Church can and should work to put an end to them. “It must do this. It must do this,” he said.

Francis quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church in saying gay people must be welcomed and respected, and should not be marginalized or discriminated against.

“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,” Francis said, speaking to the AP in the Vatican hotel where he lives.

There is another interesting point worthy of follow-up questions by reporters. In Christian theology, it is certainly true that God “loves us as we are.” That is not the same thing as saying that it is God’s will that people who the church considers (#TriggerWarning) “sinners” should embrace behaviors that the church has, for 2,000 years, considered to be “sins,” as opposed to “crimes.”

How would Pope Francis respond to questions about that? As I noted, he touched on that topic — in quotes placed at the end of the report.

In conclusion, I urge readers to seek out this “news you can use” analysis at Crux by the omnipresent John L. Allen, Jr. The headline: “Could bevy of new Vatican books betoken not civil war, but synthesis?

True, that. But what if one of the books is written by the current pope’s predecessor and packed with very specific and, yes, highly newsworthy remarks about threats to the future of traditional forms of Catholicism?

Will there be elite coverage of the new book from Benedict XVI? Maybe, maybe not. If the answer is “yes,” prepare for an acid bath from the Catholic left and few words, if any, from interviews with conservative Catholic leaders — especially American archbishops who do not wear red hats.

Just saying.

FIRST IMAGE: A social-media image of lightning striking St. Peter’s Basilica, hours after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI — drawn from Pinterest and the Liturgy Guy website.

Services MarketplaceListings, Bookings & Reviews

Entertainment blogs & Forums

Share This Post

Leave a Reply