Church should apologise to gay people and others who were marginalised – Pope Francis
Pope Francis touched on a wide range of topics in a 57-minute press conference on the four-hour flight back from Yerevan to Rome, ranging from his views on Brexit to whether the church should say sorry to gay people for having marginalized them, and from whether Martin Luther should be rehabilitated now, 500 years after the Protestant Reformation, and whether there are now two popes in a shared papacy.
Asked whether the church should say sorry to gays for the way it has marginalized them, as Cardinal Reinhard Marx said recently in Dublin, Francis responded in this way: “I say what I said on my first trip (from Rio), I say what the Catechism says: they must not be discriminated, they must be respected and accompanied pastorally.”
He said the question regards “a person who has this condition who has this good will, and sincerely seeks God. Who are we to judge (that person)? We must accompany them pastorally as well. That’s what the catechism says, and the catechism is very clear.” (Note: Federico Lombardi, S.J., the Vatican spokesman, said that when the pope used the word ‘condition’ in Italian, he actually meant ‘situation.’)
In his answer, Francis acknowledged that “there traditions in some countries and cultures which have a different mentality with respect to this question.”
He added, “I believe that the church should not only say sorry, as Cardinal Marx says, it should not only say sorry to the person who is gay that it has offended, but also it should say sorry to the poor and to women who are exploited, and the children who are exploited for work.”
He went on to explain that “When I say church I mean Christians. The church is holy but we are sinners. Christians must say sorry for not having accompanied them, for not having accompanied many choices, many families.” Indeed, “Christians must say sorry and not only for this. They must ask forgiveness, not just say sorry” and also ask God’s pardon. “It is a word that we forget a lot today,” he said.
Responding to a question as to whether he thinks Brexit can lead to the dissolution of the European Union, and even to war, Francis replied: “There is already war in Europe. There is a wind of division, not only in the E.U. but also in the countries (member states) themselves. Think of Catalonia and Scotland. I don’t say divisions are bad but I say we must study well before taking a step to division.” He warned against Balkanisation.
He confessed that he “has not studied well for what reasons the U.K. took this decision.” But, he added that he has always held that “unity is superior to conflict, that there are different forms of union, that brotherhood is better than enmity and distances, and that bridges are better than mountains.”
He suggested that the E.U. should recover its original founding force, admit “a healthy disunion” and give more freedom to its member states. He warned against “throwing the baby out with the bath water.” He affirmed that there are “two key words for the European Union today: creativity and fruitfulness.”
Francis will go to Sweden at the end of October to participate in celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Asked whether this may be the right moment to recognize the gifts of the Reformation, and also to rehabilitate Martin Luther, he responded this way:
“”I believe the intentions of Luther were not wrong. Martin Luther was a reformer, maybe some methods were not right. If we read Pastor’s history of the period…the church was not a model then, there was corruption, worldliness, attachment to wealth, and so on. He (Luther) understood this and took a step forward justifying it.”
He recalled that today “Lutherans and Catholics are in agreement on the doctrine of justification” and document is “deep and rich.” He (Luther) was right, “but then he gave a medicine to the church” in discipline, in the liturgy and so on (that didn’t work well). But, Francis said, “he was not alone, there was Calvin and others too. And then there were the princes, ‘cuius regio, eius religio’. So it’s not easy to understand all that happened.”
As for the way ahead, he said, “Let us pray together, let us work together, let the theologians study together, seeking the solutions. It is a big challenge.” Moreover, he said, “let us pray and work together for the poor, for peace, for women who are exploited and so on.”
Asked about the suggestion presented by Archbishop Georg Ganswein, that there is now an extended or shared papacy with one pope active and the other contemplative, Francis gave the following response:
“Benedict is the emeritus pope. He said clearly on February 11 that I continue to help the church with prayer, and he went to the monastery to pray. I go to see him, we talk on the phone, and he sent me a note before my trip to Armenia. I have often said that it’s a grace to have in the home an emeritus pope, a wise man, one who cares, protects.”
Francis recalled his speech to the cardinals on February 28 “when he said among you is my successor and I promise him my obedience…He’s a man of his word, an upright man, and he prays for others.”
Up to his resignation there were emeritus bishops in the church, but then “with courage, with prayer, with theology, he opened this door also.” But “There is only one pope,” Francis stated.
In the press conference he also responded to other questions not mentioned here, including women, his use of the word ‘genocide’, Armenia, his upcoming visits to Georgia and Azerbaijan, and whether he intends to visit Auschwitz in silence, without speeches, when he goes there next month.
Francis agreed that the Church ought to apologize in cases of discrimination against individuals struggling with same-sex attraction, and referred to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which emphasizes the need to accompany and respect these persons.
“I repeat what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: that they must not be discriminated against, that they must be respected and accompanied pastorally,” the Pope said June 26 on board his return flight from Armenia to Rome.
The problem is “a person that has a condition,” he said, but, echoing his comment on the way back from Rio de Janiero in 2013, noted that that if the person “has good will and who seeks God, who are we to judge?”
“We must accompany them well…this is what the catechism says, a clear catechism.”
Pope Francis spoke to some 70 journalists aboard his flight from Armenia, which he visited June 24-26.
While there, he met with the country’s president Serzh Sargsyan and visited memorial sites honoring those fallen during the Metz Yeghérn, also called the Armenian Genocide. He also met privately and signed a joint declaration with Catholicos Karekin II, head of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
In the course of the hour-long conversation with journalists, Francis touched on topics including Brexit, female deacons, Christian unity, and the role of the Pope emeritus.
He was asked his opinion on comments made by Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising on Thursday at a conference in Dublin titled “The Role of Church in a Pluralist Society: Good Riddance or Good Influence?”
During the conference, held at Trinity College, the cardinal said that “the history of homosexuals in our societies is very bad because we’ve done a lot to marginalize (them).”
As a Church and as a society, “we’ve also (got) to say ‘sorry, sorry,’” the cardinal said.
The question, in addition to asking for the Pope’s opinion on the cardinal’s comments, also asked for his thoughts on accusations following the Orlando shooting that Christians were partly to blame for the hatred that led to the incident.
He noted how in certain countries there is a “different mentality” to this problem, and said the Church “must not only ask forgiveness to the gay person who is offended. But she must ask forgiveness to the poor too, to women who are exploited, to children who are exploited for labor. She must ask forgiveness for having blessed so many weapons.”
He emphasized that “Christians must ask forgiveness for having not accompanied so many choices, so many families … Christians must ask forgiveness for many things, not just these. Forgiveness, not just apologies,” he said, noting that while there are a lot of Christians, pastors included, who are not holy, there are “many saints” who are not seen, because true holiness is “hidden.”
He referred to the parable of the wheat and the weeds, and said we ought to pray for the Lord to take out the weeds and make the wheat grow.
“This is the life of the Church. We can’t put limits. All of us are saints, because all of us have the Holy Spirit,” he said, but also cautioned that “we are all sinners, me first of all!”
Pope’s G8 group member criticises CDF chief
Tom Heneghan, the Reuters ‘Religion Editor’, reports on the comments of Cardinal Maradiaga, a member of Pope Francis’ kitchen cabinet’ of advisers: first published on Reuters, under the heading ‘Top papal ally urges Vatican doctrine chief Müller to loosen up‘ (read original article here).
Protecting the Pope ……. from us.
The U.S. Secret Service kept Pope Francis safe during his recent travels in the U.S.A., even if some think their methods a little over enthusiastic for a man who prefers to travel in a small Fiat rather than an armoured SUV.
Seamus Ahearne suggests that maybe we now need to protect him from our need for a jamboree by expecting him to attend the Congress on the Family for 2018.
Seamus thinks Francis’ time is precious and “I would much prefer that we respect the age of Pope Francis and conserve his energy and reduce his trips abroad. We should be caring for him and protecting him …We need to keep him at home and let him do as much as he can, in enlivening the Church.”
The ongoing missal problem – light at the end of the tunnel?
We carry two interesting articles about the proposed review of ‘Liturgiam Authenticam’, the Vatican’s official guide for liturgical translations.
“The New Zealand bishops are delighted with the news that Pope Francis is arranging for a review of the 2001 document Liturgiam Authenticam.”
“Why haven’t the American bishops or the other English-speaking conferences joined the New Zealanders in welcoming the review? Have they so bought into Liturgiam authenticam that they now oppose Pope Francis’s plan to review and revise it?”
We could well ask what do our Irish bishops think about this issue?
What Pope Francis was thinking of last Friday – the day of the Irish Bishops ‘ad limina’ and Donald Trump’s Inauguration
Last Friday Pope Francis also had other matters on his mind along with the ‘Ad limina’ visit of the Irish bishops. He gave hour and a quarter long interview with the Spanish Newspaper El País.
A lot of what he says will sound familiar.
“Talk, please. A fraternal conversation, if you feel up to it, or at least in a civilized way. Don’t throw insults at each other. Don’t condemn before talking.”
“Too much order. When you read the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Paul’s epistles, it was a mess, there were troubles, people moved. There was movement and contact with people. An anesthetized person is not in touch with people. He protects himself against reality.”
Benedict XVI defends Pope Francis on fifth anniversary of his election
america magazine carries a short article about retired Pope Benedict affirming that “there is an internal continuity between the two pontificates.”
A monsignor-free Church? What next?
Brendan Hoban delights in Pope Francis’ efforts to control careerism in the clergy, seen most recently in his decision to restrict the creation of new monsignori. He suggests those currently holding the title should also resign it. (Article first published in the Western People).
” The matter is a person that has that condition [and] that has good will because they search for God,” said the pontiff.”
I’m not sure I share Paddy Ferry’s optimism about us moving on if our beloved Francis ( and he is indeed beloved) still doesn’t understand that being gay isn’t a ‘ condition’ like an illness that may or may not be cured!!
It could be a poor translation of course and these off-the- cuff remarks should be treated with a little more tolerance and charity than usual, I suppose.
Saying that there is a lot in what he says that fills me with delight . (Not mentioning his need to understand women better, of course!)
This item has been updated with the report from America magazine. This includes a clarification, as follows;
“(Note: Federico Lombardi, S.J., the Vatican spokesman, said that when the pope used the word ‘condition’ in Italian, he actually meant ‘situation.’)”
and an advisory from their editor;
“Editor’s Note: this translation is for working purposes only, made by America’s correspondent in the absence so far of an official translation. It remains subject to modification.”
Thanks for reporting that clarification.
Mary, mention of the “condition” jarred with me too but perhaps the explanation @ACP2 ,ie, Francis really meant situation, clarifies what he really meant. I am more than willing to give Francis the benefit of any doubt going!
Pope Francis is, in my view, providing tremendous leadership and is encouraging local churches to proclaim the gospel in ways which take account of local culture, tradition and circumstances. This approach is consistent with what the Second Vatican Council envisaged. As yet, very few local Churches have taken up this challenge. The Irish church, in particular, has been slow to respond, with a few notable exceptions.
Francis’ apology to gay and other people is welcome and consistent with his pastoral approach. His emphasis on the primacy of praxis over doctrine is reminiscent of the fathers of Liberation Theology (who proclaimed the preeminence of orthopraxis, rather than orthodoxy). Of course, Francis hasn’t so far changed traditional doctrine but he has presented it in such a way that is inclusive and respectful of a variety of viewpoints and varying emphases.
I pray for Francis’ good health and that his pontificate will be long enough to effect and facilitate significant changes to church structures and presentation of the Gospel.