Pope: Church Should Accept Gays 'With Respect'

Says Vatican has been 'small-minded,' can't be 'obsessed'

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 19, 2013 12:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – More unexpected comments about homosexuality from Pope Francis: In a new interview with a Jesuit journal, he says the church cannot "interfere spiritually" in the lives of gays and lesbians, CNN reports. He's gotten letters from gays and lesbians who felt "socially wounded" by the church, "but the church does not want to do this," the pope said. Yes, the catechism condemns homosexuality, but gays and lesbians must still be "accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity," he continued. "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." More:

  • His answer to the question of whether he approves of homosexuality is 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. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being."
  • He also addressed criticism that he hasn't gotten all that political, seeing as he doesn't talk much about gay marriage, birth control, or abortion. But the church's teachings on all of the above are already clear, he said, and "it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time."
  • Further: "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; 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."
  • CNN notes that none of the pope's comments broke with Catholic doctrine, but did signal a shift to a more accepting approach; Francis himself said he wants to change the church's "attitude," since it sometimes gets "locked ... up in small things, in small-minded rules." He continued, "The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials."
  • Sorry, though, no female priests: Francis was quite clear that the "door is closed" on women being ordained.
The AP has more highlights from the wide-ranging interview.

Pope Francis waves to faithful as he arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013.   (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)
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