The media are falling all over each other to praise Pope Francis and his new “enlightened” stance on gays. He seems to be a humble man, sleeps in a small bed in an unprepossessing room, wears cheap shoes (unlike Ratzi), and rides in the Popemobile without being completely protected. He’s seen as a man of the people. And, on his flight back from Brazil, Pope Francis said this, as reported by EuroNews:
In some impromptu comments on the plane journey home from Brazil, Pope Francis has said homosexuals should not be marginalised but integrated into society.
There was no problem with homosexual orientation, he added. But he reaffirmed Catholic Church teaching that homosexual acts are a sin, and condemned what he described as lobbying by gay people.
“All the lobbies are not good,” he told reporters, before adding: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?”
When I first saw this on television, I thought, “Wow, now this is a forward-looking Pope!” But then I pondered the words. First, Francis says that there is “no problem” with homosexual orientation, but adds later that that is not a judge-able offense— “if the gay person seeks God.” But that’s already Catholic doctrine. As I wrote about previously, the official policy of the Catholic church is this (my bold):
From the Catholic Catechism:
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, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” 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.
In other words, homosexual inclinations (not acts) are considered a “disorder”, and acting on those inclinations is a “grave depravity.” The latter is a Catholic euphemism for “if you don’t confess this, you’ll burn in hell.” And I see “seeking God” as a euphemism for “confession.” So if you confess that you’ve sinned by being gay, you’re all right. What’s new about that?
As for condemning the lobbying of Catholics, that’s just a sign that Francis is not going to bend to those who see the Church’s policy as backwards and discriminatory.
One could also be cynical and construe Francis’s words as meaning, “I won’t judge gays, but God will.” Nevertheless, so long as he fails to repudiate or overturn Catholic policy, his “conciliatory” words mean absolutely nothing.
I swear, I don’t know how gays—of which Andrew Sullivan is a prominent example—can practice Catholicism. “Working to change the church from inside” isn’t going to be effective—at least not in our lifetime.