| 'Who am I to judge?'
do not change church teaching
VATICAN CITY — When Pope Francis told reporters July 28, "Who am I to judge" a homosexual person, he was emphasizing a part of Catholic teaching often overlooked by the media and misunderstood by many people.
In the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the church teaches that homosexual people "must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity" and that "every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."
But the catechism also describes a "homosexual inclination" as "objectively disordered" and homosexual acts as "intrinsically disordered," because sexuality is "an integral part of the love by which a man and a woman commit themselves totally to one another until death."
The church teaches that any sexual activity outside the bond of marriage between a man and a woman is sinful. Pope Francis did not change or challenge that teaching.
Pope Francis made his comments about homosexuality during a news conference with reporters flying with him from Brazil to Rome.
The pope was asked about what has been described as a "gay lobby" in the Vatican, allegedly a group of priests and bishops who work at the Vatican and protect each other. Pope Francis said it was important to "distinguish between a person who is gay and someone who makes a gay lobby."
"A gay person who is seeking God, who is of good will — well, who am I to judge him?" the pope said. "The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says one must not marginalize these persons, they must be integrated into society. The problem isn't this (homosexual) orientation — we must be like brothers and sisters. The problem is something else, the problem is lobbying either for this orientation or a political lobby or a Masonic lobby."
Although the question to the pope was about gay Vatican employees, the pope's response was not specifically about priests who are homosexual, a question addressed in 2005 by the Congregation for Catholic Education, which was in charge of seminaries at the time.
The church distinguishes between homosexual acts and homosexual tendencies or orientation, the congregation said. The church, unlike much of the public, does not assume all those with a homosexual orientation are sexually active, just as it does not assume all heterosexuals are sexually active.
Men "who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called 'gay culture'" are not to be admitted to Catholic seminaries or to be ordained, it said, although it did not give a detailed explanation of what exactly constitutes a "deep-seated" homosexual tendency.
While excluding their suitability for ordination, it said, "such persons must be accepted with respect and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. They are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's cross the difficulties they may encounter."
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