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ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis' recent comments on homosexuality are causing a stir across the globe.
The Holy Father gave an interview to the Associated Press on Tuesday, addressing a variety of topics including the criminalization of homosexuality. In the interview, Francis criticized laws against homosexuality as "unjust."
"Being homosexual isn't a crime," the pontiff stated, offering a distinction: "It's not a crime. Yes, but it's a sin. Fine, but first let's distinguish between a sin and a crime."
While the Associated Press has only released fragments of the interview, secular media and liberal Catholics are praising Pope Francis for championing the LGBT cause. But, the pontiff's comments are not as clear as many on the Left would hope.
The pope's statement about the criminality of homosexuality can be understood in two ways. In one sense, "being homosexual" can mean merely having a same-sex attraction or inclination, which is not a crime — although the Church teaches that the inclination itself is "objectively disordered." The Church doesn't automatically condemn people who are afflicted with this disorder, especially if they are actively working to overcome it. The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls for charity towards those who are afflicted with homosexual inclinations:
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.
On the other hand, the phrase "being homosexual" could describe those living an active homosexual lifestyle.
The Church calls those with homosexual tendencies to live a life of chastity. The Vatican doctrinal office teaches that it's always immoral to act on a same-sex attraction, writing, "[H]omosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of."
Pope Francis appears to recognize this when he acknowledged that "it's a sin." The pontiff continued the interview and condemned "unjust" laws throughout the world that criminalize homosexual activity. According to AP, the Holy Father claimed that the Catholic Church should put an end to such laws, noting, "It must do this."
These comments come ahead of an upcoming papal trip to Africa, where laws prohibiting homosexual activity still stand and are supported by many of the continent's Catholic prelates. Pope Francis alluded to such prelates by saying, "These bishops have to have a process of conversion," urging "tenderness, please, as God has for each one of us."
The LGBT activist organization, Human Dignity Trust, reported that around 67 countries worldwide outlaw homosexual activity. Eleven of those jurisdictions have a death penalty on the books, whether enforced or not.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, a Doctor of the Church and the philosophical backbone of Catholic thought (according to Pope St. Pius X), wrote extensively on law, explaining the harmonization of divine, eternal, human and natural law. For Aquinas, the eternal law is God's plan of divine wisdom for all creation. Man's participation in eternal law — his ability to decide between good and evil — is natural law. The Angelic Doctor posits that human law should conform to natural law.
The Church, drawing from Divine Revelation, issues a resounding and harsh condemnation of homosexual acts as gravely disordered. Following Aquinas' understanding of law, homosexual acts violate natural law and, therefore, should be prohibited under human law.
Homosexualist Jesuit Fr. James Martin lauded the pope for taking aim at laws prohibiting sodomy. Martin tweeted, "BREAKING: An immense step forward. Pope Francis calls for the decriminalization of homosexuality worldwide." Over the years, Pope Francis has written personal letters to Fr. Martin, encouraging the heterodox cleric's progressive LGBT outreach.
BREAKING: An immense step forward. Pope Francis calls for the decriminalization of homosexuality worldwide: "Declaring such laws 'unjust,' Francis said the Catholic Church can and should work to put an end to them. 'It must do this. It must do this.'"https://t.co/UGicjR3thN— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) January 25, 2023
In his interview, the pope confirms, in accord with Church teaching, that homosexual acts are sinful. However, the pontiff's ensuing condemnation of anti-sodomy laws should come as no surprise to Catholics. Pope Francis has made "compassion" and "outreach" a hallmark of his papacy, exemplified by his comment "Who am I judge?" when asked about the sexual orientation of priests.
Francis has also advocated for homosexual civil unions, despite a 2003 CDF document condemning the legal recognition of such unions.
The same CDF document goes on to say that "there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family," adding that "marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law."
The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity.
In 2020, Pope Francis called for homosexuals to not only "have a right to be a part of the family" but also "have a right to a family." He suggested, "What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered." All the while, during the Synodal Path, the German Church was descending further into confusion, wanting to accept and even bless homosexual unions.
One year later, the Vatican issued a declaration categorically ruling out the possibility of blessings for same-sex couples. The CDF wrote that God "does not and cannot bless sin."
On Tuesday (the same day Francis gave his interview), Bp. Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, tweeted, "Marriage is between 1 man & 1 woman, committed for life & open to children. Attempts to redefine marriage fail to change this reality. Living a fiction is unhealthy."
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