Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"Is the Pope Catholic?!"

In the seminary, we were taught not to be conservative or liberal, but to be Catholic. Sage advice, but obvious to most of us seminarians.  But, the political winds have picked up since then (remember, I started when gas was under $1 / gallon!), so many people put us priests in one political box or another even when we are just being Catholic.  This has been happening to Pope Francis since the beginning of his pontificate, and will only intensify over time.  He is neither "liberal" nor "conservative".  He is Catholic.

That is how I would describe the comments below on homosexuality that he made to media on the plane back to Rome from World Youth Day in Brazil.  Some people are comparing him to his predecessors on this issue. That is like comparing the writers of the Gospels, or comparing all authors of Sacred Scripture for that matter.  God sent the same message through four different Evangelists...through four different personalities and approaches (theologians calls them "lenses").  In the same way, He has given the same message through Popes Francis, Benedict XVI, John Paul II, et al.  As the article below reveals, Pope Francis is teaching on homosexuality straight from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  This is the same Catechism which Benedict and John Paul II helped write.  His comments are neither liberal nor conservative, they are Catholic.   We praise God for them and for the way they were said.

A Note on the Pope’s Remarks to Journalists en route to Rome

by Fr. Thomas Rosica
Salt and Light Blog
July 29, 2013

In response to many messages and calls earlier today regarding Pope Francis’ meeting with journalists aboard the return flight to Rome from Rio de Janeiro last night, below is a working transcript of the question about Monsignor Ricca and the gay lobby. I have included the question and the full answer of the Pope in English (and the original Italian), as well as the full paragraph from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on homosexuality to which the Pope referred.

The powerful and deeply moving visit of Pope Francis to Brazil last week left a deep and lasting impression upon this country as well as on the continent and the entire world.  We encountered in the Bishop of Rome a shepherd “who knows the odor of his sheep,” a bearer of hope and peace, and an extraordinary pastoral model of tenderness and mercy.  He stressed the necessity of mercy throughout his visit, and reached out to so many people on the peripheries of society.  This was especially evident through his visit to the favela, the hospital and drug rehabilitation centre for young people, the meeting with young prisoners, the concern for the sick, and for young people who are broken.  He also showed how much he stands in solidarity with those living in extreme poverty and struggling for justice and peace.

His comments on the plane, particularly about the divorced and remarried, women, and homosexuals must be read and understood through the lenses of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the outreach and concern of the Church for those on the fringes, and the mercy, tenderness and forgiveness of a pastor who walks among his people.

Reporter: I would like to ask permission to pose a rather delicate question.  Another image that went around the world is that of Monsignor Ricca and the news about his personal life.  I would like to know, your Holiness, what will be done about this question.  How should one deal with this question and how does your Holiness wish to deal with the whole question of the gay lobby?

Pope Francis: Regarding the matter of Monsignor Ricca, I did what Canon Law required and did the required investigation.  And from the investigation, we did not find anything corresponding to the accusations against him.  We found none of that.  That is the answer.  But I would like to add one more thing to this: I see that so many times in the Church, apart from this case and also in this case, one  looks for the “sins of youth,” for example, is it not thus?, And then these things are published.  These things are not crimes.  The crimes are something else: child abuse is a crime.  But sins, if a person, or secular priest or a nun, has committed a sin and then that person experienced conversion, the Lord forgives and when the Lord forgives, the Lord forgets and this is very important for our lives.  When we go to confession and we truly say “I have sinned in this matter,” the Lord forgets and we do not have the right to not forget because we run the risk that the Lord will not forget our sins, eh?  This is a danger.  This is what is important: a theology of sin.  So many times I think of St. Peter: he committed one of the worst sins denying Christ.  And with this sin they made him Pope.  We must think about fact often.

But returning to your question more concretely: in this case [Ricca] I did the required investigation and we found nothing.  That is the first question.  Then you spoke of the gay lobby.  Agh… so much is written about the gay lobby.  I have yet to find on a Vatican identity card the word gay.  They say there are some gay people here.  I think that when we encounter a gay person, we must make the distinction between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of a lobby, because lobbies are not good.  They are bad.  If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge that person?  The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this point beautifully but says, wait a moment, how does it say, it says, these persons must never be marginalized and “they must be integrated into society.”

The problem is not that one has this tendency; no, we must be brothers, this is the first matter.  There is another problem, another one: the problem is to form a lobby of those who have this tendency, a lobby of the greedy people, a lobby of politicians, a lobby of Masons, so many lobbies.  This is the most serious problem for me. And thank you so much for doing this question. Thank you very much!

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church
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.

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