The press is buzzing right now with claims that Pope Francis has taken a sharply different line than his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, on the subject of homosexuality.
Some are suggesting that the new pope has announced that “gay is okay.”
What did Pope Francis really say, and how unusual is it?
Here are 7 things to know and share . . .
1) Where did Pope Francis make these remarks?
He made them during an 80-minute interview with reporters aboard the plane returning from World Youth Day in Brazil.
2) What was he asked that led to the remarks?
We may not know exactly what the question was until a transcript is released, but apparently, he was asked about the reputed “gay lobby” at the Vatican.
More info on that here.
3) What exactly did he say?
According to the best current accounts, he said:
There’s a lot of talk about the gay lobby, but I’ve never seen it on the Vatican ID card.
When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency [i.e., same-sex attraction] is not the problem … they’re our brothers.
4) What does this mean?
The first part of the statement seems to downplay the who “gay lobby” issue. He’s not denying that there is one there, but he’s suggesting that the talk is somewhat overblown.
He then explains his approach to dealing with gay people: He distinguishes between their “being gay” and “being part of a lobby.”
What he means by “being gay” is something he further unpacks.
In ordinary parlance, “being gay” can mean anything from having same-sex attraction to leading an active “gay lifestyle” to endorsing and advocating a pro-homosexual ideology.
The last of these would be functioning as a member of a lobby, and he indicates that this is not what he is talking about.
He then describes those he is talking about as people who “accept the Lord and have goodwill.”
He then seems to further clarify who he is talking about by saying that “The tendency [i.e., same-sex attraction] is not the problem … they’re our brothers.”
Taking his statements together, what emerges is a portrait of individuals who have same-sex attraction but who nevertheless accept the Lord and have goodwill, as opposed to working to advance a pro-homosexual ideology.
This would definitely include people with same-sex attraction who strive to live chastely (even if they sometimes fail).
It also, possibly, could include individuals who are not living chastely but who are not actively lobbying a homosexual agenda. It would be nice if he’d said a little more to clarify the point further.