In an interview simultaneously released by more than a dozen Jesuit journals, Pope Francis today called for less focus on gays and abortion in the Catholic Church and more attention to the needs of the poor.
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” he told his interviewer. “This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”
The pontiff also expanded on his comment during a recent flight home in which he asked, “who am I to judge?” when quizzed about homosexuality. In today’s interview, however, he left plenty of questions on the role of homosexuals in the church.
In Buenos Aires I used to receive letters from homosexual persons who are “socially wounded” because they tell me that they feel like the church has always condemned them. But the church does not want to do this. During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro, I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.
A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: “Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?” We must always consider the person.
“He hasn’t announced some new teaching… what we’re witnessing is the birth of a new genre of communications,” said Matt Malone, S.J., the publisher of the America magazine. “What we see here is the emergency of pastoral papacy. He talks to us as our brother instead of as our father.”