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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pope Says Lay Off the Gays, God Is in Everybody

Whoa, this is big news, and a big breath of fresh air. Pope Francis, in an interview he granted last month to an Italian Jesuit magazine, says the Catholic Church needs to find a new balance. The New York Times reports:
Pope Francis, in the first extensive interview of his six-month-old papacy, said that the Roman Catholic Church had grown “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he has chosen not to speak of those issues despite recriminations from some critics.

In remarkably blunt language, Francis sought to set a new tone for the church, saying it should be a “home for all” and not a “small chapel” focused on doctrine, orthodoxy and a limited agenda of moral teachings.

“It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,” the pope told the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, a fellow Jesuit and editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal whose content is routinely approved by the Vatican. “The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.

“We have to find a new balance,” the pope continued, “otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.” . . .

The new pope’s words are likely to have repercussions in a church whose bishops and priests in many countries, including the United States, often appeared to make combating abortion, gay marriage and contraception their top public policy priorities. These teachings are “clear” to him as “a son of the church,” he said, but they have to be taught in a larger context. “The proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives.” . . .

“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality,” he told Father Spadaro. “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.” . . .

"I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life. God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else — God is in this person’s life. You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God."

You can read the full interview in English at America magazine, a weekly Catholic journal.

In another story reported by the Huffington Post, a 25-year-old gay man from Toulouse, France, claims that the Pope called him on August 29 after receiving a letter the man wrote, telling of his experiences with bullying and self-doubt. The Pope supposedly said to him:
"I received the letter you sent me," he said. Then we talked about the situation in my life. He told me: "Your homosexuality, it does not matter. You must remain brave, you must continue to believe, to pray, and be good. "

He encouraged me to continue the volunteer work I mentioned in my letter. He encouraged me, told me to be strong. He told me this: "One way or another, we are all children of God. This is why we must continue to be good. We all return to God, and only God knows if we are good. "
A Vatican official later denied that the Pope had called the man, who nevertheless maintains that it was indeed the Pope who called him. But still, in your Head Trucker's opinion the story does seem very much in keeping with Francis's public expressions so far.

Update, 9/20:  On the CBS This Morning program, New York's homophobic Cardinal Dolan, full of porcine pep and cheer, says it was no biggie - the Pope was just talking about doing a makeover on the Church's PR strategy, 'cause the old one ain't pulling in the demographics like it used to.  I wonder . . . .


Frank said...

I read the interview and was pleasantly impressed. I've shared some of my thoughts about Francis and what he had to say on my blog. I worry for him and hope he remains safe and well.

Russ Manley said...

Like you I was pleasantly impressed, very much so - but also wondering if the knives will come out for him.

Davis said...

The Catholic neo-cons are gritting their teeth, straining to parse this a different way. He better watch his back.

Russ Manley said...

Yup, he sure had.

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