Twitter exploded on Monday with news of Pope Francis’ “Okay with Gays” statements, as he returned from a successful World Youth Day in Rio. Nearly every major news outlet promoted his words as a broad stamp of papal approval for homosexuality, the turning of the tide for gay rights in the Catholic Church. However, my reading of Francis’ words revealed a different story; rather than groundbreaking, his words seemed strikingly consistent with those of his predecessors.
“A gay person who is seeking God, who is of good will — well, who am I to judge him? … The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says one must not marginalize these persons, they must be integrated into society. The problem isn’t this (homosexual) orientation — we must be like brothers and sisters. The problem is something else, the problem is lobbying either for this orientation or a political lobby or a Masonic lobby.”
Searching the internet for voices of reason, I came across this thoughtful piece from Raymond Arroyo of EWTN.
In the aftermath of the in flight presser, The Huffington Post raved, “Breakthrough: Pope Okay with Gays.” The Pope, indeed the Church, has always been “okay” with all sinners (just check out the membership). That does not mean that the Church condones the actions of all Her members, straight or gay. Despite the media reports, the Pope is in no way adjusting Church teaching. He is merely quoting the Catechism and in his laid back manner, affirming the long held teaching of the Catholic Church … How this could be misconstrued as an innovation or a “breakthrough” is bewildering. Though it is a tonal shift to be sure.
There have long been misconceptions regarding the Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality, especially today. The Church cannot condone homosexual acts–it instead encourages those with homosexual tendencies to lead chaste lives in Christ. This does not signal a condemnation of gay individuals, nor does it reduce the Church’s constant respect for the dignity of every human person. Consequently, Pope Francis is simply shifting our emphasis, highlighting the deep need for caritas in all our lives–a welcomed message indeed.