The weaselly Pope Francis and his views on gays

The word “weaselly” is weighing on my mind again today, and Pope Francis is instantiating it well with his latest comments on homosexuality. As usual, he’s being conciliatory towards those the Vatican has historically demonized—and here I mean gays—and the press is lapping it up like a cat laps cream.

The latest news is about Francis’s comments to a gay man who was the victim of sexual abuse by a priest. As reported by CNN:

A victim of clerical sexual abuse has said that Pope Francis told him that God made him gay and that his sexuality “does not matter.”

Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivor of sexual abuse, spent three days with Pope Francis at the Vatican in April, in which he discussed his sexuality and the abuse he suffered at the hands of a Chilean priest.
Describing his encounter with the Pope to CNN, Cruz said: “You know Juan Carlos, that does not matter. God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say.”

I assume this is true, but it’s bizarre that Francis says that God made Cruz gay, despite Vatican doctrine (below) that being gay is “intrinsically disordered”, and their position that committing homosexual acts is a “grave sin” that, unconfessed, will send you straight to the Barbecue Below.  Why would God make someone who is “intrinsically disordered”? As some kind of test?

Before I comment on Francis’s hypocrisy, let me direct you again to the Church’s statements on gays (my emphasis):

From the Catholic Catechism in the Vatican Archive:

Chastity and homosexuality

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

From a 1986 letter to Catholic bishops by ex-pope Ratzinger on the Vatican website:

In the discussion which followed the publication of the Declaration, however, an overly benign interpretation was given to the homosexual condition itself, some going so far as to call it neutral, or even good. Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.

Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.

. . . The Church, obedient to the Lord who founded her and gave to her the sacramental life, celebrates the divine plan of the loving and live-giving union of men and women in the sacrament of marriage. It is only in the marital relationship that the use of the sexual faculty can be morally good. A person engaging in homosexual behaviour therefore acts immorally.

To chose someone of the same sex for one’s sexual activity is to annul the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the goals, of the Creator’s sexual design. Homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life; and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living. This does not mean that homosexual persons are not often generous and giving of themselves; but when they engage in homosexual activity they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent.

As in every moral disorder, homosexual activity prevents one’s own fulfillment and happiness by acting contrary to the creative wisdom of God. The Church, in rejecting erroneous opinions regarding homosexuality, does not limit but rather defends personal freedom and dignity realistically and authentically understood.

. . . What, then, are homosexual persons to do who seek to follow the Lord? Fundamentally, they are called to enact the will of God in their life by joining whatever sufferings and difficulties they experience in virtue of their condition to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross. That Cross, for the believer, is a fruitful sacrifice since from that death come life and redemption. While any call to carry the cross or to understand a Christian’s suffering in this way will predictably be met with bitter ridicule by some, it should be remembered that this is the way to eternal life for all who follow Christ.

Got that? If you’re gay, suck it up and refrain from gay sex, no matter how much you suffer. After all, Jesus suffered too! And of course you want to go to Heaven, which you won’t do if you commit “sodomy”.

I don’t deny that Pope Francis has humane impulses towards gays; after all, I don’t think this gesture was simply public relations. But what is public relations is Francis’s repeated conciliatory statements about gays in the absence of his doing anything to change church doctrine about it. If God made gays and loves them, then you simply can’t call this a “disorder”.

It’s time that Francis, if he’s serious about this, does something to change church doctrine. He can try, you know, but he doesn’t: he simply makes highly publicized statements. The press loves this kind of stuff, for it gives the Pope a human face, and the press, by and large, is soft on faith.  But it’s time they held Francis’s feet to the fire, telling him to put up or shut up. After all, he still doesn’t want gays to be priests:

In a closed-door meeting with Italian bishops Monday, the pope warned against admitting candidates with “deep-seated” gay tendencies or those who engage in “homosexual acts,” the Catholic News Agency reports.  Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, president of the Italian bishops’ conference, confirmed the remarks in a press conference Thursday, according to the agency.

“If you have even the slightest doubt, it’s better not to let them enter,” Francis said of aspiring seminarians with gay “tendencies,” according to Vatican Insider, an Italian site covering the church.

This isn’t a new stance for Pope Francis or the church overall, as the church has long held that men with “deep-seated,” as opposed to “transitory,” attractions to the same sex are not suited for the priesthood. Francis reiterated that policy in a 2016 document. Still, there are many gay men who are priests, and they, like heterosexual priests, are expected to remain celibate.

The Catholic church won’t change its dogma, I think. Rather, they’ll just hold onto the antiquated ideas of yore, resigning themselves to losing America and Europe (except for Poland), and placing their hopes in Africa and South America, where Catholicism is rife and homophobia is still deeply entrenched.

I wish the press would stop buying Francis’s talk and start asking when he’s going to walk the walk.

h/t: Grania


  1. Posted May 27, 2018 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    There’s a simple explanation for this, well covered by Frank Zappa in his song “Dumb All Over.”

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted May 27, 2018 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      There’s one I really, really like on the subject, but the name and artist is eluding me (I have a shockingly bad memory for names). It came out about three years ago. I remember the main phrase, “Take me to church,” but I don’t know if that’s the title of the song.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 27, 2018 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      Frank (the Mothers-of-Invention Frank, not the Pope-Frankie-the-First Frank) had no truck with woo of any flavor. See “Cosmik Debris”.

  2. Joseph O'Sullivan
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    The problem is that Christianity and Judaism explicitly condemn homosexuality. For christ’s sake the bible says sex between two men is punishable by death. The pope is trying to reconcile a belief system made when humanity was barely out of the stone age with modern, fact-based knowledge about gay people.

    I witnessed this first hand growing up in catholic schools. The church’s toxic attitude towards same-sex love led to dysfunctional attitudes and the molestation of children.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 27, 2018 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      I think a big part of the problem was that many young Catholic men conflicted over their same-sex attraction (and their families) believed that going off to the seminary would protect them from society’s temptations. So there they end up sequestered away with many other young men conflicted about their same-sex attraction. Which probably worked out for many of them, as far as it went, but then they graduated from seminary and were sent off to parishes, where they were cut off from other gay men, but surrounded by post-pubescent boys.

      • mirandaga
        Posted May 27, 2018 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        You got that exactly right, Ken. I don’t know it this dynamic prevails today, but it was certainly prevalent in the late ‘50s when I entered the Jesuits. My best friend from the sem (this despite the explicit rules forbidding “tactus” [touch] and “pf”s [particular friendships]—both designed to discourage homosexual activity) wrote me a letter a week before ordination (I had left some years earlier) expressing his fears (and, in fact, suicidal ideation) about the prospect of being put in the exact situation you describe. The letter was intercepted by his superiors and he was expelled—much to his later relief if truth be told. We kept up communication by letter until his death from AIDS in the 90s. His story was not an unusual one in those days, and, as you point out, not irrelevant to the scandals that later came to light.

      • Lars
        Posted May 27, 2018 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I agree with you. It’s probably not just the lack of temptation in the seminaries, however – the requirement of celibacy means that priests are expected to live without connubial relationships. So it’s an effective mask. Also, for the devout (and we have to assume that most if not all seminarians are devout), taking a vow of chastity can be looked upon as a reinforcement of the Church’s requirement that they forego homosexual relations. It makes it easier for them to give up what they’re not supposed to be doing in the first place.

      • Joseph O'Sullivan
        Posted May 27, 2018 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

        It is more dysfunctional than that.

        You have an institution that has for centuries condemned gay people as at best diseased or worse demonic. You have young teen boys realizing they are gay in this environment, and so terrified to admit it to the outside world or even to themselves. It is destructive to a person to have them believe that something so inherently a part of them as their sexuality is immoral.

        Some of these people are drawn to the clergy where shutting down their sexuality that they were taught to hate seems a natural fit but is a maladaptive behavior.

        The majority of the catholic child molestation victims are young teen boys and the perpetrators are priests. They are drawn to these boys because they are the same age as when they started having same-sex attraction but repressed it in damaging ways.

        The church in no small part created these monsters. The catholic church absolutely protected these child molesters for decades while promoting the whole rotten system that created them in the first place.

  3. Harrison
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    It’s enough to make one pine for the short lived days of Ratzinger. Somehow nobody could find it in their hearts to be sympathetic toward Pope Palpatine.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted May 27, 2018 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Of course, his job before he became pope was head of the Office for the Inquisition. For those who didn’t know, no, I’m not joking. The name of the office was renamed at the beginning of the 20th century for public relations purposes, but it’s still there and he was in charge of it for years.

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    What have they been saying often lately? The fish rots from the head. Having so many gays does help reduce that other problem a bit.

  5. Francisco
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Sorry but pay attention: he is a jesuit. His language is adapted to the circunstances (a person abused by “our clerics”) and also gay. IN NO MOMENT the Pope tells to the victim YOU CAN LIVE YOUR SEXUALITY. God wants you to be gay (so that you suffer and keeping your chastity earn merits to heaven), Pope wants to be so (I want if god wants) and you must love yourself (accept the cross: but NO SEX. CHASTITY!!!).
    Is the art of tell things to the limit without moving a finger to change the aberration of the “catholic doctrines”.
    Be sure: only Science showing evolution and epigenetics in sexual behavior and MANY MANY social fight will compel Catholic Church to silence their monstrosity. I know them deeply (studied theology).
    “Heavens and earth will end, but my words never”.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted May 27, 2018 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      I agree. It’s a very Jesuitical bit of “pastoral counsel,” and in keeping with his other statements quoted in this post. Suffering in silence to emulate Jesus, valorizing suffering for some imaginary ideal is a great way to get credulous people to shut up and become passive, become quietists and pietists. I recall that, in a Catholic context, many voiced complaints, large and small, were met with an “Offer it up.” But, of course, that sort of thinking isn’t exclusive to Catholicism or Christianity.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted May 27, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

        The Catholic Church survived historically by maintaining the hierarchy. They concentrated on converting kings and queens, who then declared their fief Catholic and ordered everyone to convert. Then the people are taught they were born into the life God wanted for them and to accept their lot. It was very useful to the ruling classes, so they continued to support the Church.

  6. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Oh, so now we have “erroneous opinions”.

    That is what I would call an erroneous claim.

  7. Francisco
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    And changing doctrine meants THE END OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. Because they, born in Aristotelian-Platonic world cant accept evolution, but a static worl revelated by GOD to them. “Church cant be wrong nor induce sheeps to an error”. Tradition meants that a doctrine repeated during centuries cant change because turned part of revelation (Ill send you the Holly Spirit. He will teach you everything).

  8. Sixtus
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    “Start asking when he’s going to walk the walk.” As the faaaaabulous RuPaul song goes, the pope will have to ‘sissy that walk’.

  9. Historian
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I am in a charitable mood today. I do not know what is in the Pope’s heart regarding gays or divorce or priests in the Catholic Church. Maybe he would like to see doctrinal changes in these areas. If he does, he is smart enough and political enough to realize that directly demanding change would incite civil war within the Church, with his side very likely losing. Conservatives in the Church disdain him. Under the best of circumstances changing Church doctrine is a mighty task. By saying some nice things about gays, he may be setting the groundwork for a future pope to take decisive action as, he would hope, the Church becomes more liberal in attitude. Remember, it was not too long ago that people like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton stated their opposition to same sex marriage. When public opinion changed they could not stop talking about how ardently they supported it. I am not saying that this will happen to the Church hierarchy, but it could. But the time is not right for the Pope to push for doctrinal change, if that’s what he secretly wants. Perhaps the time will be right in several decades or never.

    As I noted above, the Pope is a highly divisive figure. His leadership could collapse if he attempt to go further to the left. This article discusses how he became divisive.

    • AC Harper
      Posted May 27, 2018 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      Which means that the pope puts the survival of the church above years of suffering by a number of people in the church.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted May 27, 2018 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

        Sure, but that’s to be expected of anyone leading an organization, isn’t it? Ike knew those boys in the first Higgins boats to hit Omaha Beach would suffer, too.

    • Posted May 27, 2018 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

      Roman catholic priests used to be able to marry and have families. The fight against marriage was fought without total success for centuries. I’ve read that one of the reasons to restrict marriage and children for the priesthood was to ensure that no priest’s money was inherited by family; just the church.

      Certain of the orthodox catholic priests still can marry and have families. If roman catholic priests were permitted to live “normal” lives (either married to a female, or to be able to have a consensual homosexual relationship),there might not be so many priests debauching young boys.

      Not only is the pope not truthful about the continued sexuality of priests, but church rules have not succeeded. This doesn’t even address the popes and papal hierarchy who had families and mistresses.

      If I believed in hell, and homosexual activity actually would cause homosexual catholic boys and men to go to hell, many priests will be right there with them.

  10. Jessy Smith
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I’m so tired of Catholics who say this Pope is great:

    Pope tells bishops not to accept gay seminarians: report

    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis warned Italian bishops this week to vet carefully applicants to the priesthood and reject anyone they suspected might be homosexual, local media reported on Thursday.

  11. Posted May 27, 2018 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    I see this differently. I think the pope is going as far as he can to welcome gays into the church, given that so many Catholics and especially the church hierarchy are so conservative on the issue. He can’t get too far out ahead of them; they won’t follow. But he can start moving in that direction. This isn’t as much as I’d like to see, but I think it’s as much as he can realistically do now.

  12. mirandaga
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    “The Catholic church won’t change its dogma, I think.”

    A minor point that may have already been mentioned. The Church’s stand on homosexuality may be called a teaching or a doctrine, but it’s not a “dogma,” a term reserved for specific doctrines proclaimed “ex cathedra” as infallible. In reality there are relatively few dogmas in Catholicism (examples include the Resurrection of Jesus and the Assumption of Mary) and hardly any that bear on how ordinary Catholics are to live their lives.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 27, 2018 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I think since the doctrine of infallibility was formalized in the 19th century, the Pope has spoken ex cathedra just one — Pius XII on the Assumption of Mary in 1950.

      I’d be quite surprised to see Francis take the ex cathedra pony out for a ride during his stint in the Vatican.

  13. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Even many of the early Catholic “church fathers” that would be considered relatively progressive compared to others by today’s standards (like Gregory of Nyssa) were fairly anti-gay.

    Others limited their opprobrium to sex with boys and male prostitutes. The latter is the position of the most widely circulated early Christian catechism, the “Didache”, but these were easily the two most visible forms of homosexuality at the time. In 305 it became policy to excommunicate anyone having sex with boys.

    Penalties against homosexuality in general becamesevere as early as 314’s Council of Ancyra.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted May 27, 2018 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

      The Desert Fathers were particularly horrified of being molested by the devil, who came to them in the guise of African (black) boys. I don’t care what anybody thinks of Freud, this is so Freudian and so fucked. The trope of the hypersexualized and demonic African goes way back.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted May 27, 2018 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

        Whether the boys were of the flesh or of the spirit (hallucinations/delusions due to all that strict and extremely perverse askesis) is of no moment — as the saying goes, it’s the thought that counts.

  14. Brujo Feo
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    It isn’t just the gays that are to blame…it’s them goldurned liberls…see

    The comments are pretty chilling.

  15. Helen Hollis
    Posted May 28, 2018 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    loved visiting the Observatory University of Chicago has announced they want to let go of.
    Please Make Lake Geneva your summer vacation spot. Save the telescope.

  16. ChrisS
    Posted May 28, 2018 at 1:46 am | Permalink

    Francis is caught in a bind of his own making. I have no pity for him. At the end of the day, he’s still essentially a Company man.

  17. Posted May 28, 2018 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    How *do* things like this get changed, officially? Are the rules of procedure actually documented?

  18. Posted June 1, 2018 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    “Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivor of sexual abuse… discussed his sexuality and the abuse he suffered at the hands of a Chilean priest. Describing his encounter with the Pope to CNN, Cruz said: “You know Juan Carlos, that does not matter. God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say.”

    If I get the Pope’s idea correctly through the language barriers, the essence is that he has forgiven Cruz the crime of which Cruz was victim and some Catholic Church employees were perpetrators!

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