The word “weaselly” is weighing on my mind again today, and Pope Francis is instantiating it well with his latest comments on homosexuality. As usual, he’s being conciliatory towards those the Vatican has historically demonized—and here I mean gays—and the press is lapping it up like a cat laps cream.
The latest news is about Francis’s comments to a gay man who was the victim of sexual abuse by a priest. As reported by CNN:
Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivor of sexual abuse, spent three days with Pope Francis at the Vatican in April, in which he discussed his sexuality and the abuse he suffered at the hands of a Chilean priest.
Describing his encounter with the Pope to CNN, Cruz said: “You know Juan Carlos, that does not matter. God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say.”
I assume this is true, but it’s bizarre that Francis says that God made Cruz gay, despite Vatican doctrine (below) that being gay is “intrinsically disordered”, and their position that committing homosexual acts is a “grave sin” that, unconfessed, will send you straight to the Barbecue Below. Why would God make someone who is “intrinsically disordered”? As some kind of test?
Before I comment on Francis’s hypocrisy, let me direct you again to the Church’s statements on gays (my emphasis):
From the Catholic Catechism in the Vatican Archive:
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,141tradition 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.
From a 1986 letter to Catholic bishops by ex-pope Ratzinger on the Vatican website:
In the discussion which followed the publication of the Declaration, however, an overly benign interpretation was given to the homosexual condition itself, some going so far as to call it neutral, or even good. Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.
Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.
. . . The Church, obedient to the Lord who founded her and gave to her the sacramental life, celebrates the divine plan of the loving and live-giving union of men and women in the sacrament of marriage. It is only in the marital relationship that the use of the sexual faculty can be morally good. A person engaging in homosexual behaviour therefore acts immorally.
To chose someone of the same sex for one’s sexual activity is to annul the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the goals, of the Creator’s sexual design. Homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life; and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living. This does not mean that homosexual persons are not often generous and giving of themselves; but when they engage in homosexual activity they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent.
As in every moral disorder, homosexual activity prevents one’s own fulfillment and happiness by acting contrary to the creative wisdom of God. The Church, in rejecting erroneous opinions regarding homosexuality, does not limit but rather defends personal freedom and dignity realistically and authentically understood.
. . . What, then, are homosexual persons to do who seek to follow the Lord? Fundamentally, they are called to enact the will of God in their life by joining whatever sufferings and difficulties they experience in virtue of their condition to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross. That Cross, for the believer, is a fruitful sacrifice since from that death come life and redemption. While any call to carry the cross or to understand a Christian’s suffering in this way will predictably be met with bitter ridicule by some, it should be remembered that this is the way to eternal life for all who follow Christ.
Got that? If you’re gay, suck it up and refrain from gay sex, no matter how much you suffer. After all, Jesus suffered too! And of course you want to go to Heaven, which you won’t do if you commit “sodomy”.
I don’t deny that Pope Francis has humane impulses towards gays; after all, I don’t think this gesture was simply public relations. But what is public relations is Francis’s repeated conciliatory statements about gays in the absence of his doing anything to change church doctrine about it. If God made gays and loves them, then you simply can’t call this a “disorder”.
It’s time that Francis, if he’s serious about this, does something to change church doctrine. He can try, you know, but he doesn’t: he simply makes highly publicized statements. The press loves this kind of stuff, for it gives the Pope a human face, and the press, by and large, is soft on faith. But it’s time they held Francis’s feet to the fire, telling him to put up or shut up. After all, he still doesn’t want gays to be priests:
In a closed-door meeting with Italian bishops Monday, the pope warned against admitting candidates with “deep-seated” gay tendencies or those who engage in “homosexual acts,” the Catholic News Agency reports. Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, president of the Italian bishops’ conference, confirmed the remarks in a press conference Thursday, according to the agency.
“If you have even the slightest doubt, it’s better not to let them enter,” Francis said of aspiring seminarians with gay “tendencies,” according to Vatican Insider, an Italian site covering the church.
This isn’t a new stance for Pope Francis or the church overall, as the church has long held that men with “deep-seated,” as opposed to “transitory,” attractions to the same sex are not suited for the priesthood. Francis reiterated that policy in a 2016 document. Still, there are many gay men who are priests, and they, like heterosexual priests, are expected to remain celibate.
The Catholic church won’t change its dogma, I think. Rather, they’ll just hold onto the antiquated ideas of yore, resigning themselves to losing America and Europe (except for Poland), and placing their hopes in Africa and South America, where Catholicism is rife and homophobia is still deeply entrenched.
I wish the press would stop buying Francis’s talk and start asking when he’s going to walk the walk.