How to get Francis wrong on homosexuality

Over at the National Schismatic Reporter (aka Fishwrap) I saw a self-indulgent piece by the new contributor, Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ.  He wrote a longish offering called “Sodom, homosexuality, drone strikes and prayer”.

Here is a sample of Reese’s post (with my emphases):

Pope Francis made clear [to reporters on the airplane] that being gay is not an impediment for ordination. For him, the issue is not orientation but whether a person is a good priest. Even if a priest fails in celibacy, one can “then convert, and the Lord both forgives and forgets. We don’t have the right to refuse to forget.” The pope made it clear that there is no room for homophobia either in the church or society. But if I had said what he said 24 hours before he said it, I would have been reported to the archbishop.

First, Reese is playing the drama queen to his base.  That’s clear enough, but leave that aside.

Second, how can Reese say that, if in his sermon in Frisco last Sunday, he had he said what Pope Francis said on the plane, he would have been be reported to the archbishop?

For saying what, exactly?

The Pope’s words (my emphases):

QUESTION: 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?

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!

That’s what the Pope said.

Did Francis, in those off-the-cuff comments on an airplane, reverse the Congregation for Catholic Education’s 2005 document restricting men with deeply ingrained, long-standing homosexual histories from priestly ordination?

Corollary: is that how official, dicasterial documents are reversed? In off-the-cuff comments?

What His Holiness said, when broken down, is this:

  1. there is a gay lobby in the Vatican,
  2. no one knows for sure who’s in it,
  3. we need to distinguish between homosexual priests working in the Curia who a) may be part of an insidious power-brokering careerist sham, b) are not part of any such cabal, but who, much like some of their heterosexual counterparts, sin and then seek absolution and want to amend their lives, c) are living chaste lives.

But Reese, and others who promote the homosexualist agenda, teased one clause into a reversal of a document: “The problem is not that one has this tendency…”.  

Here is what another document, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 1986 Letter Homosexualitatis Problema 3, says:

“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“.

And in paragraph 10:

It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.

But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase.

At the end of the CDF’s Letter we find:

During an audience granted to the undersigned Prefect, His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, approved this Letter, adopted in an ordinary session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and ordered it to be published.

What Reese and others who write agitprop for the MSM do is precisely what the CDF warns against.  Moreover, Reese pits one Pope against another (soon to be “Saint” John Paul II) and against two dicasteries of the Holy See.

What Pope Francis said in off the cuff remarks on an airplane to journalists is consistent with what the Church has been officially proposing to the world.

Furthermore, if Pope Francis wants to change something that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith or the Congregation for Catholic Education issued (or Cong. of Clergy, which now handles seminaries), he will do it in a way that is unambiguous.

Don’t hold your breath.

Notwithstanding what liberals and homosexualists dish up for for the MSM, Pope Francis is not going to say that strong homosexual inclinations are not ordered to something that is intrinsically evil, nor is he going to say that it’s okay for men to be admitted to holy orders whose homosexuality is deep-seated and long-standing.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Sandy says:

    It was a mistake for me to watch “network”/MSM news last night. My husband must have gotten very tired of my loud groaning and exclamations as I listened to all the talking heads take the comments out of context. Still, may the Holy Father choose his words carefully from now on!

  2. MarcAnthony says:

    Thank you, Father. These were also my thoughts. Let’s cut through the hysteria and read Francis THROUGH Blessed Pope John Paul II, eh?

    Pope Francis preaches mercy, and that’s why the media likes him. They think “mercy” is a code word for “anything goes”, because it emphasizes forgiveness more than restitution. But Jesus’s words to the adulterer were also “Go and sin no more”, and everything Francis has done and said is consistent with that.

    We have a good, holy Pope.

  3. Headline in this morning’s local secular newspaper:

    Aboard the papal aircraft – A remarkably candid Pope Francis struck a conciliatory stance toward gays Monday, saying “who am I to judge” when it comes to the sexual orientation of priests. . . . . While the comments do not signal a change in Catholic teaching that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered”, they indicated a shift in tone under Francis’ young papacy.

    Much damage to the Church (and within the Church) has already been done by headlines and articles like this (and worse) in newspaper and media sources throughout the country. This damage cannot be undone by explanations (however valid) as to whether the pope was correctly or incorrectly quoted or interpreted, whether he did or did not reflect or change Church policy, whether this or that interpretation is or is not consistent with Catholic doctrine.

    Imprecise unplanned off-the-cuff papal remarks on sensitive topics in informal settings inevitably not only risk but evidently invite such damage.

  4. Tim Capps says:

    I think it was unfortunate for the Pope to chat to reporters about such a hot-button issue. Let’s stipulate that nothing new or remarkable was said. Can’t we also stipulate that it was foreseeable that progressives and the media (redundant, I know) would use the Pope’s words to cut the moral legs out from under those who are fighting the normalization of homosexuality? “Pope: Don’t Be Judgmental Toward Gays” is the only possible takeaway from those statements given the cultural climate. I am as ultramontanist as the next guy, but the Pope was not giving a prepared homily to Catholics when he chats with reporters on homosexuality. (And I don’t believe for a minute his elegant homilies are as spontaneous as they look, which makes them even more impressive..) Brace yourselves for comparisons between homophobic Pope Benedict who wanted to grind gay priests’ faces into the dirt with his red shoes, and the enlightened Pope Francis who endorses gay rights, plans to change the Vatican Website to a rainbow theme on LGBT Day, and wants a world-wide ban on handguns for good measure. Never underestimate the mendacity of the media.

  5. Priam1184 says:

    Francis causes chaos by his words. He needs to stop talking and start doing something. [?]

  6. mamajen says:

    Did you see Eye of the Tiber’s latest, Father? It made me chuckle.

    What Pope Francis said is completely in line with Church teaching. While gay men probably shouldn’t be allowed to enter the priesthood, there are a great number of them who were ordained long ago. What are we supposed to do? Kick them all out? If they’re not causing trouble, then they should be allowed to continue on as Pope Francis said.

  7. tcreek says:

    Someone will lose their credibility here, hopefully it is not the pope. Or is their some other hidden explanation?

    Pope Francis – “… we did not find anything corresponding to the accusations against him (Monsignor Ricca). We found none of that.”

    Sandro Magister – “… it (the accusations) corresponds in every way to the documents – ecclesiastical and of the civil authorities – kept at the nunciature, including the letter with which Bolonek implored the Vatican authorities to send him in place of Ricca a new and “morally sound” adviser. In Uruguay, at least five bishops who were direct witnesses of the scandal are ready to report. “Es todo verdad,” it’s all true,”

  8. McCall1981 says:

    Henry Edwards, I could not agree more.
    These kinds of things keep happening where Pope Francis says something off the cuff, the media goes crazy, then Catholic apologists/bloggers like Fr. Z have to put out the fires and explain why what he said is not against Church teaching. In each individual case, including this one, I fully understand and agree that what the Pope said is is technically fine. But why does he keep inviting all this confusion and controversy? Why not simply speak clearly? He can’t so naieve as to not see how his words will be misused by the media, so why does he keep doing this? He must think there is something positive to come out of it, but I am at a loss in trying to understand his motivations.

  9. Maxiemom says:

    Aren’t we supposed to hate the sin and love the sinner? And what about judge not lest ye be judged?

    I applaude Pope Francis for standing up and speaking out on homosexuality in a way that teaches us to follow those principles. I think it is so easy to forget that this has been going on for centuries, but the media makes it more of a public issue.

    Again, would FDR have been elected if people knew he was in a wheel chair? Would homosexuality be such a big deal if it were not in the media all the time?

  10. wmeyer says:

    On the one hand, I could wish that Pope Francis were less readily taken out of context; on the other, I know that the only way to prevent such things in the media is to speak of nothing, or not to speak at all.

    Still, had the comment been something like: “…as the Church has always taught, we must not judge the sinner…” it might have been at least a little more difficult for him to be misunderstood.

  11. Marcus de Alameda says:

    Emeritus Pope Benedict was very careful with his words in these situations.
    I hope Pope Francis and his press secretary will be more carefull in the future when dealing with such interviews. All openings will be exploited by the adversary and have a potential snowball effect through the MSM and cause mayhem. This narrative was quickly framed and is spreading through the liberal sectors that ‘Francis is walking back the mandate that homosexual orientation is not compatible for ordination to the priesthood.’
    In media exchanges like this, the press secretary must act swifty and make an announcement to clarify that the Holy Father did not contradict the edict that ‘men with a gay orientation are not suitable for ordination to the priesthood. ‘

  12. Good points.Agree. Still no matter how well you speak you cannot count on the media not to find some way to twist the words or leave some out.They have an agenda and they have control over the print.They will find a way.

  13. Eraser says:

    Thank you for giving us a clear translation of what the pope actually said. I fear that no matter what (and no matter who the pontiff is at any given time), the MSM and everyone else with an axe to grind will find a way to distort his words and tailor them to their own sick little agendas.

    We have to remember that Francis is still new at the job and also an outsider in certain terms. He’s spent his entire ministry far away from the Vatican, almost at the “ends of the earth” as he put it himself, so he hasn’t yet learned the Vatican’s cultural intricacies. Last but not least, he isn’t a European. Although he has a strong connection to a European country (my Italian relatives were quick to say that, like me, he is ethnically Italian), he’s a Latin American who looks at things in a different way.

    This is making me think of something I heard an Argentine reporter say at the time he was elected, & which was just echoed by an Argentine WYD participant: he expresses himself in a very direct, even blunt way that is typical of the citizens of Buenos Aires. I found that very interesting, especially given the eagerness of the aforementioned to misread and twist everything he says. As you pointed out, he is NOT saying anything new or “revolutionary” and never would. I think the fact that his style differs from his predecessors, Benedict in particular, is what gets people worked up. He’s just different in a lot of ways and some still don’t know what to make of him.

  14. Andrew says:

    On the other hand, perhaps …, perhaps, he has shifted the public discourse away from the endless whining about “homophobia”.

    If he wouldn’t say anything, he might look like he’s afraid to discuss the matter. What’s there to fear?

    A man is a different from a woman. Is that something that cannot be stated? A man and a woman is different from a couple of guys. So what? Where’s the homophobia? We distinguish, we don’t discriminate.

  15. wmeyer says:

    I cannot help but observe from the widespread ignorance of the real meaning of the Pope’s comments that the Catechism is woefully underused.

  16. acardnal says:

    Henry Edwards wrote, “Imprecise unplanned off-the-cuff papal remarks on sensitive topics in informal settings inevitably not only risk but evidently invite such damage.”

    I agree. It would be helpful if he would put more thought into what he says extemporaneously. It is often unclear and this leads to misunderstanding – as can be observed.

    So many in the MSM and the blogosphere are already telling us “this is what the Pope REALLY said.” That tells me that whatever the Pope was trying to communicate was not clearly communicated!

  17. Pingback: How to get Francis wrong on homosexuality | Knights of Divine Mercy

  18. Poustinik1 says:

    Thank you Father Z.

  19. SteelBiretta says:

    (with apologies to Johnny Carson)

    ED McMAHON: Heaven has no brighter star than our next stellar guest, that omnipotent master of the east and former manicurist to Archbishop Weakland, Carnac the Magnificent…

    Welcome once again, O Great Sage… I hold in my hand these envelopes. As a child of four can plainly see, these envelopes have been hermetically sealed. They’ve been kept in a #2 mayonnaise jar since noon today on Funk and Wagnell’s porch. No one knows the contents of these envelopes, but you, in your divine and mystical way, will ascertain the answers to these questions having never seen them before.

    CARNAC: I must have absolute silence… (puts envelope to forehead) “Sodom, homosexuality, drone strikes and prayer.”

    McMAHON: “Sodom, homosexuality, drone strikes and prayer.”

    CARNAC: (opens envelope) Name the location of the next LCWR conference, two topics discussed in nauseating detail, and one thing that won’t be done there.

    CARNAC: May you be forced to redecorate the Vatican’s gay lobby.

  20. McCall1981 says:

    This is google translated from the Vatican website from the Press Conference.
    Patricia Zorzan:
    “Speaking on behalf of the Brazilians. Society has changed, young people have changed and you see so many young people in Brazil. She did not mention abortion, marriage between persons of the same sex. In Brazil, a law was passed that extends the right to abortion and allowed marriage between persons of the same sex. Why did not talk about this?”

    Papa Francesco:
    “The Church has already expressed this perfectly. It was not necessary to go back, as I have not even talked about the fraud, deceit or other things which the Church has a clear doctrine!”

    Patricia Zorzan:
    “But it is a topic that interests the young …”

    Papa Francesco:
    “Yes, but there was no need to talk about this, but the positive things that open the way to the boys. Is not it? In addition, young people know exactly what is the position of the Church!”

    Patricia Zorzan:
    “What is the position of Your Holiness, we can talk about it?”

    Papa Francesco:
    “That of the Church. I am the son of the Church!”

  21. Joe in Canada says:

    I agree that someone in the position of the Holy Father needs to be sure his words build up the brethren. Pope Emeritus Benedict was as careful as could be, and we got riots in Islamia, and “condoms for prostitutes”. The earliest Christians in Rome were accused of atheism and cannibalism, so it seems that the media are continuing a long-trodden path.

    I wouldn’t have expected anything else from Fr Reese. But I wonder if he realizes that the word “homophobia” is vacuous, meaningless. He should stop using it.

  22. Robbie says:

    I, too, must agree with Henry Edwards. Whether Pope Francis changed the doctrine on gays and the priesthood is an academic discussion at this point. What matters is the real world reaction and application of his comments. Just as liberal elements in the Church and media corrupted the real meaning of VCII, so too have the same groups in regards to Francis’ comments on gays.

    Whether true or not, the news the last two days was seen through the eyes of the liberals on this point. Vatican officials and conservative blogs can issue press release after press release, but the damage has already been done. In fact, two of my friends, both of whom are Catholic but not regular Church goers, called me yesterday wondering why the Pope is now supportive of gay priests and the gay lifestyle. That’s a win for the liberal because their interpretation won the day.

    Popes must choose their words wisely. It’s great that Francis wants to be accessible, but off the cuff remarks or remarks which are not well thought out can lead to this kind of experience. Now, rather than discuss the three million who attended Mass in Rio, the discussion is whether or not Francis opened new doors for gay priests.

  23. Geoffrey says:

    I cannot believe (or maybe I can) that Patricia Zorzan asked such stupid questions. I love the Holy Father’s answer: His position is “that of the Church. I am a son of the Church!”

    Amen! May that be the answer of all of us!

    The headlines should be reading: “Pope Stuns The World: He Is Catholic!”

    wmeyer said: “I cannot help but observe from the widespread ignorance of the real meaning of the Pope’s comments that the Catechism is woefully underused”.

    Sad but true. The answers to so many questions are contained in this one book.

  24. mrshopey says:

    The problem I have is the use of the term gay, which means a homosexual living out the lifestyle. I had hoped he meant something else but others argue he used the English term and knows what it means. But I seem to wonder because he goes on to condemn gay lobby, which is what someone who is gay usually does; fight for ss “marriage”, etc.
    That is my confusion as I think he means homosexual when he uses the term gay.
    Now, if gay does mean embracing/living out the life style which is contrary to the Christian life, we run into lots of problems by not marginalizing them. IOW, not electing those who are openly gay to pastoral councils, hired as teachers, etc.
    I think we have past he point, at least in the US, where someone who admits they are homosexual is living a chaste life. They are the minority.
    We have a case close to home where a lesbian couple is very involved in a parish. They refer to themselves as mrs/mrs. Now, on one hand it would seem they, parish, is doing what Pope Francis wants. But, when you look deeper, the harms becomes evident as this parish has been shown how “ok” homosexual couples are and do not see what the Church’s problem is with ss “marriage”.

  25. Renaissance77 says:

    First time commenter. Color me intrigued as I have read through many recent posts. Consider this an aggregation of my interpretations…
    As in many things I consider myself just ever so slightly right of center. What I mean is that Fr. Z has hit the general tone of Francis I’s papacy square on the head. I don’t see any evidence that good Catholics who love the smells and bells should batten down the hatches (per some commenters a certain blog). I for one love the extraordinary form on a regular basis, most especially Holy days (I fear myself not appreciating it enough if every mass I went to was extraordinary — by definition that makes something seem ordinary to me the observer). But please think for a minute:
    1) Smells and bells isn’t the essence of being a follower of Christ. Loving your God and neighbor is.
    2) God loves the sinner and is always open and welcoming and the Church should be that way too.
    3) Jesus and his Apostles did not have pipe organs, gold chalices, kneelers, the Roman Missal, or a bunch of music or chant. In fact, these were the guys who probably weren’t all too welcome in Synagogue. One of the things we are constantly reminded of throughout the New Testament is that Jesus did not get along with followers of the law in name only, when their hearts were not in the right place. Jesus wants our hearts, not just our observance of the laws and customs. Our Catholic Tradition allows us the tradition to help us in our journey, but it isn’t a requirement for salvation.
    4) There are definite minimums to having a liturgy, but speaking in a language that someone coming in off the streets out of the cold wouldn’t understand is not one of them.
    In conclusion, our Church will always be full of wolves in sheep’s clothing (fishpaper and AUSCP come to mind). But our job is to follow the Truth and lead others to it. We can’t do that effectively if we’re always pointing out the flaws in our fellow humans. We can do it with a little help from God by being the example for others to follow.

    The media will twist words no matter what is said. But I’d rather a Bishop of Rome and a lay people who regularly speak the Truth – even if it gets twisted – over a quiet non-controversial papacy and closed-door Catholicism. Someone who is seeking Truth can sift through some of the weeds to find the fruit, but only if the ground is not completely barren.

  26. Pumpkin Eater says:

    The interview was conducted in Italian. From Osservatore Romano in Italian:

    “Il problema non è avere questa tendenza, no, dobbiamo essere fratelli, perché questo è uno, ma se c’è un altro, un altro. Il problema è fare lobby di questa tendenza: lobby di avari, lobby di politici, lobby dei massoni, tante lobby. Questo è il problema più grave per me. E la ringrazio tanto per aver fatto questa domanda.”

    I think that the phrase “fare lobby” as used by Papa Francesco, might be better translated as “to promote.” God loves St. Peter and the rest of us sinners, repentant or not. We all need not only forgiveness but firm belief in God’s forgiveness of ourselves and others; Francis condemns as “il probema piu grave,” meaning worse or worst (given the context, it could be either), the promotion sins that appeal to our weak human tendencies, sexual sins, greed, abuse of political power and the malevolent ends of secret societies like the Italian Masons. Fare lobby for sin is the work of the devil.

  27. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Robbie (and others):
    Since the world wishes to misconstrue His Holiness, surely a great service is done by Catholic bloggers who provide the actual text of His Holiness’ remarks. Would it be nice if the world didn’t intentionally misconstrue His Holiness? Sure, but waiting for that with bated breath is merely going to make you gain unconsciousness.

    Do I wish the Holy Father would construct his teaching modality more like his saintly predecessors, Pius XII, Pius XI, Pius X, Leo XIII and Pius IX? Sure. Is that likely to happen? Sadly, no.

    Still, since the teaching of the Church didn’t change, intelligent people are eventually going to ask this question: “Since I like what Pope Francis says, and don’t understand why this doesn’t change church teaching like (my favorite media outlet) claims that it does, shouldn’t I read the whole transcript to find out ‘what gives’?”

  28. wolfeken says:

    It is easy to simply blame everything on the media or complain about how the average Joe hears a sentence.

    The real problem here exists in the actual words that were spoken. It’s like Vatican II all over again, where something vague is written and people have to spend countless hours trying to figure out what the heck it means. So of course some of those people are going to run with an interpretation.

    The solution is to return to clear, unambiguous statements like popes used to make. But apparently that is now Pelagianism.

  29. Ben Kenobi says:

    Perhaps this blog should be renamed. What Did the Pope Really Say? Thank you Father Z. You’ve become my go to for getting the truth about Francis.

    [I could use the abbreviation “WDTPRS”. … Nah! Too complicated.]

  30. Denis says:

    I can’t believe that I’m agreeing with Fr. Reese and disagreeing with Fr. Z. but… It’s hard to interpret the words of the Bishop of Rome as anything other than a reversal of BXVI’s instruction. [You have chosen to be wrong. Okay.]

  31. Robbie says:

    Chris Garton-Zavesky

    Just to be clear, I don’t think it’s wrong for conservative Catholic bloggers to correctly interpret the words of any Pope. What I’m saying is they’re fighting an uphill battle when going against the megaphone the MSM provides the liberals. What’s the old saying? A lie travels around the world before the truth has a chance to get dressed? I know that’s not exactly how the saying goes, but you get my drift.

  32. McCall1981 says:

    You may be right of course, but I heard it explained this way, and it makes sense to me.
    Remember that his comments on “gays” came in context of the “gay lobby” specifically, this wasn’t a question about gay Priests in general. Since he has publically acknowledged that he is going to do something about the gay lobby, I think his statements are meant more in the sense of: “I’m not going to do a witch hunt for any homosexual in the Vatican and excommunicate them all. I am going to try to get rid of this lobby”.
    Seen in the context of the question, which was specifically about the gay lobby, I think his comments are more about how he will deal with the lobby, not about a general policy on all gay priests and whether they should be admitted to seminaries etc.
    So if you see the context as the gay lobby, he’s saying he won’t judge and destroy any Vatican official that is “just” homosexual, he is going to go after the ones that are actively part of this lobby.

  33. tcreek says:

    And then there is this.

    “Upon arrival, the Pope went to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, to pray before Our Lady. As a gift, he left a green sports jersey and a beach ball, at her feet, both items directly brought from Rio, Brazil.”

  34. MarcAnthony says:

    There’s only one, solution then. From now on, the Pope only speaks, ever, when he’s reading a pre-written speech, first approved by Pope emeritus Benedict. Every time somebody else addresses him he just hums loudly and runs away.

  35. anna 6 says:

    “I can’t believe that I’m agreeing with Fr. Reese and disagreeing with Fr. Z. but… It’s hard to interpret the words of the Bishop of Rome as anything other than a reversal of BXVI’s instruction.”

    No, no no Denis. He was talking about a very specific case where he feels we need to show mercy to those who have done things in their past for which they have confessed and been forgiven…he said nothing about admitting “gay” seminarians in the future. This was wishful thinking on the part of Fr. Reese and others.

    What Did the Pope Really Say? Brilliant Ben…and yes, once again, thank God for Fr. Z.

    Holy Lios.

  36. “But if I had said what he said 24 hours before he said it, I would have been reported to the archbishop.”

    … and it wouldn’t have made any difference either way.

  37. frjim4321 says:

    The news accounts that I’ve seen (a combination of sources) all pretty much report that the “tone” has changed, but that the actual teaching of the church has not. That seems to be fairly accurate. I’m happy for the change in tone. It’s not going to bring back gay Catholics who have already left, but maybe it will have some other positive effects.

    I would agree with those who say that the words spoken by Pope Francis are substantively the same as the October 1986 words of Pope Benedict:

    “The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation. Every one living on the face of the earth has personal problems and difficulties, but challenges to growth, strengths, talents and gifts as well. Today, the Church provides a badly needed context for the care of the human person when she refuses to consider the person as a “heterosexual” or a “homosexual” and insists that every person has a fundamental Identity: the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life.”

    “It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs.”

    However, Pope Francis said the same thing in a way that is accessible to all. Thus, the change in tone is an important improvement.

  38. Bosco says:


    To admonish the sinner is a spiritual work of mercy.

  39. John Nolan says:

    I know that the Lord forgives, but being omniscient, how can He forget? [I wouldn’t over-analyze the “forget” comment. We know what he means.]

  40. AA Cunningham says:

    “And what about judge not lest ye be judged?” Maxiemom

    Didn’t take long for someone to exercise poor judgment and trot out the oft used, out of context paraphrase of Matthew 7:1, Luke 6:37 and Romans 2:1. One wonders what type of knot you’d tie yourself into paraphrasing Luke 12:57 and 2 Thessalonians 3:6.

    As Michael Voris said today “”You don’t coddle the enemy or the confused.”

  41. OrthodoxChick says:

    I think that Pope Francis knows exactly what he is doing. He has to walk a tightrope. He has the SSPX surrogates sniping at him from one side. He has the liberal clerical bloc and the liberal media pressuring him from the other side. Somehow, he has to steer the Barque right between the two and keep her steady; keep her between the navigational buoys.

    In all of these seemingly candid, “off-the-cuff” remarks, he always manages to seem like he’s telling the liberals what they want to hear, yet never contradicts the Magisterium to do it. This is a man who has faced down his own order and liberation theology. Surely such things garnered him extensive media attention in Argentina. In other words, this ain’t his first regatta. He knows exactly how to play the liberal press. Sound like you’re chumming the waters and go about your business while the sharks busy themselves with your bait.

  42. Lin says:

    Watching the Pittsburgh Pirates win and take first place to take my mind off this nonsense! Pope Francis is a holy man who is being used by the progressives to promote their agenda! Pray! Pray! Pray!

  43. Lin says:

    Dear frjim4321…..The change of tone only gives those looking for an excuse, more rope to hang themselves. I do not understand why liberals cannot take the TRUTH straight up! They always want it served up with touchy, feely, love, and forgiveness. I would take Pope Benedict’s approach any day! But it is what it is and I pray for Pope Francis and all the Church’s religious every day! God bless you!

  44. Lin says:

    Getting ready for the 2nd game, Pittsburgh vs St. Louis! Better then Wolverine to relieve stress!

  45. av8er says:

    OrthodoxChick, great point.

  46. aandreassi says:

    Methinks the lady doth protest too much

  47. Traductora says:

    The poor pope! No matter what he says, they’re going to twist it. And if he doesn’t say anything, then the report will be, “Pope refuses to answer questions about [favorite liberal cause].”

  48. Kathleen10 says:

    Warning: I’m about to make a vulgar comparison.
    Eric Holder, if questioned, would probably say he adheres to the Constitution. Whether he does or not or respects it at all is open to interpretation. Many would say he does not, but, he would probably say that he does. I’m not in the least saying that Pope Francis does not adhere to former church documents or procedures, truly, I am not, I would not, but I am saying that even if an official document exists, it is only in it’s application that one really knows whether or not it is still adhered to. If Eric Holder says things that don’t align with our Constitution and does things that don’t align with our Constitution, then one could rightly wonder if he personally adheres to our Constitution.
    I am totally with Henry Edwards and others on this.
    Apparently, I can quit holding my breath. I have hoped and waited, and from my simpleton’s chair I see nothing that indicates reason to hope for a strong presence that is going to stem the evil tide of homosexuality. It’s not going to come from the Vatican. Rats. That is indeed, a bummer. Pope Francis’ words are often imprecise, abstract (to me, but I’m no religious scholar), and while he may not have refuted officially, it is easy to see why those so inclined would skip away and frolic. “Forgive and forget”. I’m perhaps going to spend more time than I’d like in purgatory for this, but, if we do that, “forget”, we risk CHILDREN, and I never again want to read about little boys harmed by Catholic priests in such an ugly manner. Never! In my limited viewpoint, if we must err, let us err on the side of protecting innocent children, who have been in many cases irreparably harmed by a sexual encounter with someone who is supposed to represent Jesus Christ and His Church, but instead stole the innocence from that child and forever scarred his concept of both. Many of these boys are selected by gay predators because they have no fathers. Needy and lonely, looking for affection and love, a gay predator takes evil advantage of that poor child. It is so ugly it is hard to contemplate, but if we put our heads in the sand we are not much better. We are not doing what we can to protect that child. If we have to err, we ought to make that child our first priority, err on the side of saying “We must have men in seminary who are not suffering from any orientation toward homosexuality”. Zero tolerance on that. Or how about a reminder of the importance of hetereosexuality in God’s plan? For the individual? For the family? For children? For the priest? For anybody or anything?
    I’m just one tiny, inconsequential person. But as a Catholic, I hoped for clarity, unambiguous language, affirmation of heterosexuality in our confused world, definitive teaching on the church’s commitment to zero tolerance on this issue. Are we interested in keeping children safe or are we NOT? Are we more interested, and this is what sticks in my craw, in avoiding “hurt feelings” and that someone should feel “marginalized”?? I have heard this reminder ad nauseum in homilies and, I’ve heard it enough to last me a lifetime. We are a world in significant moral trouble. We need help here!
    Hurt feelings on the one hand, the sexual molestation and lifetime fallout on the other, for an innocent child. To me, it’s a no-brainer, but, apparently it’s alot more complicated than I imagine. Our church seems to have a hard time with it. I’m embarrassed. I’m sorry, Fr. Z. You are wonderful and provide so much to us. I always trust your wise interpretation and would be positive 99.9 times out of 100 you are correct and I am incorrect. I wish I saw it your way. You’re probably right and I’m going to sit in that Purgatory Waiting Room, but I just am disappointed as heck.

  49. Kathleen10 says:

    One last thought. I believe, when the Pope is asked about homosexuality, the “real” question might better be “Are you going to make any changes to seminaries as it pertains to homosexuals?”. That is the true question, as, the question of whether or not a homosexual person is welcomed into the church, etc., is not questioned. We seem to have all moved beyond that aspect and it’s not the really interesting question. It is REALLY about ordination. Let’s not be naive. And there was nothing here to affirm or clarify anything except let’s not be judgmental or marginalize people.

  50. McCall1981 says:

    I agree with you. With all thats going wrong with our secular culture, the Church needs strong clear leadership, and I think we arent going to get it. With Pope Benedict I felt like we had a spiritual father, but since his resignation I feel alone, like we are all on our own.

  51. Lavrans says:

    His Holiness, Benedict XVI, was also horribly misunderstood in an avoidable and unfortunate (not to mention awfully subtle) example of moral progress of an AIDS-ridden man deciding to forgo selfish pleasure and don a condom in order to possibly save his partner’s life. The press went ballistic. They don’t remember. We do. We always do. We’re in the world and left to clean up the mess.

    I’m with Katherine. By now, the Vatican (and really all priests and bishops) should know how the media works. Why are we fighting the battle on their turf? Why are we so damn ambiguous? Why must ever utterance of a pope, particularly His Holiness Francis, be corrected by lay people and a few priests? Where are the cardinals? Where are the bishops?

    The laity and a few priests – liberal and conservatives – are the ones doing all the heavy lifting nowadays concerning the world. The pope is to be the Vicar of Christ. Shouldn’t he have to do the lifting and the cleaning up of messes? Why is it that he must lift the least and make the biggest mess? Perhaps Cardinal Mahoney was right. This is his guy. A man ill-equipped for the job, who will not be able to change anything for the better, and may just allow changes for the worse.

    The Church shall not fall. But she may have her nose rubbed in her mess. I’m so tired of this. Jesus Christ spoke directly at times, and at other times through parables. All I ever hear from His Holiness lately are ambiguous parables. Nothing straight. Nothing definitive. Nothing direct.

    And remember, the world loves the devil and hated Christ. The way the media speaks of Benedict reminds me of Christ. The way they speak of…I can’t say it. I’m frustrated, Father. Very frustrated. Very tired. The devil has me where he wants me.

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  53. Giuseppe says:

    To show how this story has permeated the media: here’s Justice Scalia to the rescue.

  54. otter says:

    Fishwrap! Huh. Now I don’t feel so bad using our diocesan newspaper to line my birdcage!

  55. Norah says:

    “Imprecise unplanned off-the-cuff papal remarks on sensitive topics in informal settings inevitably not only risk but evidently invite such damage.”

    From your words to the pope’s ears Henry.

  56. Priam1184 says:

    Father, when I said “start doing something” I meant that he needs to do something to curb and eventually eliminate the ordination and promotion through the hierarchy of actively gay men. Only then will the Church’s teaching about love and acceptance of the person with homosexual inclinations really take hold and be effective. Otherwise it just sounds like a cop out.

  57. Andreas says:

    Frjim4321 wrote, “However, Pope Francis said the same thing in a way that is accessible to all. Thus, the change in tone is an important improvement.” Style over content? The implication is that one must necessarily be a populist as a prerequisite for acceptance. Does this marketing psychology approach not demean the intelligence of those who are the recipients of the message?

  58. Gratias says:

    “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. ”

    This means that a homosexual who placed his lover in the Uruguayan nunciature payroll and brought scandal to the Church with his perversion stays in, but the Franciscans of the Immaculate are treated in a most heavy handed manner for using the Traditional Latin Mass which was never abrogated. Reading Francis through Ricca is not what we should expect after the enormous destruction homosexuals have brought to the Catholic Church. 640 million dollars from Cardinal Roger Mahoney’s diocese alone. The Vatican bank will continue to be mired in scandal as long as the Pope continues to ignore the elephant in the room. The Communists love H. H. comments on the gays now, but they will return for their pound of flesh later. Bread for today, hunger for tomorrow.

  59. MrTipsNZ says:

    Fr Reese needs to relearn his logic and protoetymemes.
    Take the following:

    1) Pope Francis stated lobbies are bad
    2) Fr Reese is well known as a lobbyist

    Conclude: Fr Reese’ ideas and lobbying are…..?

    And Fr Reese appears too stupid to know he walked right into it.

  60. Chuck Ludd says:

    Thank you for posting the transcript. What the Pope said is extraordinary in its balance of orthodoxy and pastoral views. His words have been taken out of context and gravely distorted.

    As a side note, I found it amusing that he referred to Masonic lobbies in the list of bad lobbies — and I haven’t heard a peep from anyone mentioning that statement!

  61. Aegidius says:

    Kathleen, I am 100% with you. I guess I will have to join you in purgatory. Makes it easier, though.

  62. Mike says:

    In terms of “forgetting”, if I remember rightly, there is a story about St. Margaret Mary Alacoque that is relevant: when her confessor told her, “ask Christ, next time he appears to you, what my last mortal sin was, and if he answers, I will believe in these apparitions.” Next time Our Lord appeared, St. Margaret asked this question. Our Lord told her, “I don’t remember.” She told this to her confessor, and he immediately believed, rightly, that her communications with Christ were real.

  63. robtbrown says:

    1. The pope never worked in the Vatican, didn’t want to be pope, or think it would happen. It is unlikely that, unlike Papa Ratzinger, he has ever spent much time thinking about what is needed in the universal Church.

    It’s going to take him at least one year to get his sea legs.

    2. He was ordained in the late 60’s. He is a social justice Jesuit. That means little to parents trying to raise Catholic children against contemporary culture–and often against Pope Francis’ own priests and religious. These are people who not only support parishes but contribute to missionaries appealing for money and for clothes drives for the missions.

    3. He says that he didn’t speak about the Church’s moral teaching because it’s already been stated and is widely known. Of course, the same thing can be said about the Church’s social doctrine.

    4. Obviously, with absolution someone is forgiven the eternal punishment for grave sin. The temporal punishment, however, is another matter. The simple truth is that the scandals have made parents leery about their children being around priests and religious.

    And Abp Weakland might have been forgiven his sin against chastity, but there is no indication that he has returned the diocesan money he gave (legally but immorally) to his boyfriend.

  64. otter says:

    I remember this time that Jesus came upon a group of people about to stone a woman to death because they judged her to be an adulterer (we don’t even know if this was true or an assumption)–and death by stoning was the acceptable punishment for that sin. Jesus–off the cuff–challenged the group with these words: “Let the one among you who has no sin be the first to throw a stone.” Funny how they all walked away, then. Jesus said a lot of things–off the cuff and from the depth of his heart. Look where it got him. I celebrate Pope Francis’s ministry to our Church and world–and pray for his safety (though I’m grateful he puts his ministry before his personal safety–he is an inspiration to me!).

  65. eben says:

    I want to thank Fr. Z for this wonderful article as it assisted me greatly in understanding what’s really going on with this. It also confirmed what I’ve long suspected, i.e., I am the singularly most mentally impaired person following this blog: I had to read the article 3 times to fully comprehend it.

    Notwithstanding my obvious short comings in intellect, I would suggest one simple solution (from a simple mind) to the blatherings of the evil that is the MSM. DON’T WATCH IT! DON’T LISTEN TO IT AND DON’T READ IT! Simply……………Turn It OFF!

    There……….I feel much better now.
    Thank you
    Pax et Bonum

  66. mimicaterina says:

    Aside from Pope Francis’s off the cuff comments which contribute to confusion and misunderstanding, I am concerned that the dumbing down of the liturgy is going to bring us even more bizarre theater. But as I think about this, I have to realize that it is Christ’s Church, He is its Head, and He will deal with all this in His time and way. So I pray that the Holy Spirit guide our Holy Father and all the bishops. And this is my prayer: “Father, give us holy bishops who care about our souls, who proclaim Christ’s truth with boldness and conviction, with humility and compassion”.

  67. MarcAnthony says:

    I have to say, I’m quite impressed by the number of people who know exactly how Pope Francis SHOULD be running things. I used to trust the Holy Father’s judgment, but after reading these comments I realize that you blog posters know how to run the Church FAR better than the Pope does. From now on I’m going to take my cues from you guys as to exactly what Pope Francis should say and how he should act, since you all seem to have ideas about it.

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  69. RoyceReed says:

    It’s hysterical and yet so sad to see all the traddies and neo-cons playing damage control. Fr. Z would have us think Francis a simpleton with no experience in dealing with the media. [*I* would have you think that? Where have I said that? You are so GONE. ¡Vaya con Dios, friend!] Bollocks. The man was the archbishop of a large, liberal city. He’s no fool. He said exactly what he meant on that plane, and now the homophobes are shaking in their pontifical slippers.

  70. McCall1981 says:

    Check out the interview below from Monday where he says his position on homosexuality is “that of the Church. I am a son of the Church”, and that the Church has expressed this position “perfectly”. Perhaps its you who should be shaking in your liturgical dance slippers.

    This is google translated from the Vatican website from the Press Conference.
    Patricia Zorzan:
    “Speaking on behalf of the Brazilians. Society has changed, young people have changed and you see so many young people in Brazil. She did not mention abortion, marriage between persons of the same sex. In Brazil, a law was passed that extends the right to abortion and allowed marriage between persons of the same sex. Why did not talk about this?”

    Papa Francesco:
    “The Church has already expressed this perfectly. It was not necessary to go back, as I have not even talked about the fraud, deceit or other things which the Church has a clear doctrine!”

    Patricia Zorzan:
    “But it is a topic that interests the young …”

    Papa Francesco:
    “Yes, but there was no need to talk about this, but the positive things that open the way to the boys. Is not it? In addition, young people know exactly what is the position of the Church!”

    Patricia Zorzan:
    “What is the position of Your Holiness, we can talk about it?”

    Papa Francesco:
    “That of the Church. I am the son of the Church!”

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