“If a person is gay and seeks God’s will who am I to judge him?” is a now famous and often repeated quote by Pope Francis which has been touted as a radical departure from prior Catholic teaching. It has been reported as signaling a change in the Church’s attitude toward homosexuality, as if the primary concern of the Church was homosexuality. If ever there was a quote whose significance has been overrated this is it.
First let’s be clear on the Catholic teaching that has really been consistent for the last 20 centuries or so:
All sexual activity other than heterosexual activity in the context of marriage and open to new life is seriously sinful.
There are several corollaries to this:
1) All humans are tempted to sexual sins, and in fact since we are weak so we fall away frequently.
2) God’s mercy is endless which is why he provides near infinite opportunities for reconciliation, one who repents , and resolves to sin no more, even if he strongly suspects he will fall again, is forgiven.
3) Sin is powerful, and someone may find themselves trapped in a situation or addicted to a behavior that is sinful. If one is truly seeking a way out of the sin and means to try and end this attachment to sin, they should not despair but continue to pray, seek regular sacramental confession, and work at ending the sinful behavior and with God’s grace and time they will be successful.
4) Sexual sins have a tendency to be particularly addicting, and thus souls often find themselves trapped by the sin, and in that case the approach described above in (4) is particularly relevant.
All the above is true for any kind of sin, sexual sin in particular and given that 98% of people are attracted sexually to members of the opposite sex, then most of the time you are talking about heterosexual sins. So what is the relevance to the Pope’s comments?
The point is if a person is gay, but seeks God’s will the Pope said we should not judge him. Well of course! The point is that if a person is in the unfortunate situation of having an attraction to members of the same sex, (and it is an unfortunate situation, I would not want to be afflicted with an attraction to sex with other men anymore than I would want an urge to eat clay), it is not even a sin, so how could one judge such a person. Let’s go one step more, if someone is trying to “follow God’s will” one is trying to limit the number of times one succumbs to this unfortunate temptation. Following God’s will means trying to obey the Church’s teaching on this issue. The Church knows sexual sinners will fail. So if you a married man addicted to pornography, and you are seeking to break the addiction, the Church is with you even when you fail. If you are a homosexual the same logic follows. If you are trying to live a chaste life but periodically fall into temptation, the Church is there to support you as you continue to attempt to follow God’s will and amend your life. Note: You are not “seeking God’s will if you are not trying to end the sinful behavior. Pope Francis’ comments did not signal that he is going to reverse the teaching of the Church on homosexual behavior. In fact in the same conversation the Pope stated:
“The problem is not having this orientation,” he said. “We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying by this orientation,”
Note that presumably to advocate for recognition that the behavior is ok, is a “problem”. In fact arguing for the behavior being “ok” is much worse than privately engaging in it. It is much worse to publicly try and convince others a sinful behavior is fine, as opposed to quietly engaging in the sin. We all sin one way or another, Mea Culpa! What most of us avoid is publicly advocating that our favorite sins are not sins. It is worse to be Larry Flynt a purveyor of porn, and then it is to be a consumer of pornography, although both are sinners. So if you are happily engaged in homosexual behavior and not trying to end this behavior, and in fact advocating that the behavior is fine, and indirectly undermining the entire teaching of the Church regarding sexual morality, you are not “seeking God’s will”. This is not to say we should “judge” anyone’s soul, we should not, since multiple factors go into determining the subjective guilt of a given sinful act, but on the other hand we are fully in our rights to call the behavior sinful. In any case it should come as no surprise that Pope Francis just condemned the gay marriage movement on his trip to the Philippines as can be read about here.
Now the point of all this is not to focus on the topic of “gay marriage”. The whole focus on gay issues throughout society is a bit much given that it affects about 2% of the population. In fact its practical relevance is often the light it sheds on other things. To be sure it is relevant to the left, not because they care so much about gay people as they are relatively quiet when Jihadists throw homosexuals off rooftops as reported here. With that sort of atrocity taking place, how does the left have any time left to spend worrying about the Pope’s teaching regarding homosexuality at all?
Well the real reason they care appears to be as we have discussed previously, (see this earlier post) the real agenda of the whole gay marriage lobby has more to do with forging a weapon against the Church then anything related to gay “rights”. Therefore the real point is to illustrate the dishonesty and manipulative nature of how the cultural left operates.
So it will come in handy to remember this when the Pope travels to the United States and when he issues his next encyclical. The reporting will be distorted. Be prepared.
In the mean time we ask for the prayers of Our Lady of the Rosary