Did Pope Francis defend homosexuality?

THERE was a time when Sen. Manny Pacquiao, an ex-Roman Catholic, earned the ire of the gay community when he condemned the latter for lobbying to legalize same-sex marriage. He quoted Bible verses, such as:

“If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable” (Leviticus 20:13).

“Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate shall inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:9).

Obviously, non-gay priests and pastors would agree with Manny; they have been quoting similar Bible references.

But the gay ones – who must have felt “guilty” of the forbidden game that might condemn them to perpetual torment in hell – would be glad to know that no less than the Church’s head, Pope Francis, stands by them.

Remember when, on his flight back to Rome from a week-long tour of Brazil in July 2013, an accompanying reporter from the National Catholic Review asked him to comment on the “gay lobby”?

Pope Francis quipped, “If a homosexual person is of goodwill and is in search of God, I am no one to judge.”

Gays around the world naturally take it to mean that the Pope himself approves of homosexuality regardless of Bible verses condemning it.

The Pope could have been paraphrasing Jesus Christ who had said: “Judge not, that you may not be judged” (Matthew 7.1).

In the same interview, the Pope admonished his flock to also shake off their obsession against abortion and contraception, and become more merciful or risk the collapse of its entire moral edifice “like a house of cards.”

No doubt such comments, while okay with Liberal Catholics, do not sit well with dogmatic bureaucrats. The present Pope, they say, has failed to address the concerns aired by his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who had described homosexuality as an “intrinsic disorder.”

Obviously, therefore, Francis’ approach contrasts starkly with that of his conservative retired predecessor who now lives a withdrawn life in the Vatican grounds.

Pope Francis told Civilta Catolica (an Italian Jesuit journal), “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.”

Church leaders who disagree with him are not expected to voice their contrary views out. But those who agree have openly defended him.

“What is clear is that he does not think like a classicist who sees the world in unchanging categories. He is a storyteller like Jesus, not a philosopher,” said Father Tom Reese, an American Jesuit and author of several books on the Vatican.

John Gehring, Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, a liberal advocacy group in the United States, said, “This Pope is rescuing the Church from those who think that condemning gay people and opposing contraception define what it means to be a real Catholic.”

“Francis distinguishes between the sin and the sinner. He says that homosexuals are not inferior or different to others, the choice of how to live one’s homosexuality being one of the mysteries of man,” read an editorial in the Vatican daily Osservatore Romano.

It would be very embarrassing to take action against homosexuals, since everybody knows of gay priests and ministers who have come out of the closet. As future generations take over possessions of religious power, the relaxation of policies against homosexuals is expected to continue on the scientific ground that homosexual feelings are inborn in their genes, not chosen. ([email protected]/PN)

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