Oh boy. There’s nothing wrong with what Pope Francis said here but the words are vague enough that those who want to misconstrue them will have plenty of opportunities to do so.
Yahoo News has the part in question:
The National Catholic Reporter says Francis participated in a wide-ranging interview with reporters on the plane for close to 90 minutes. While he spoke openly about many church topics, Francis’ most newsworthy soundbite came when he said he would not judge gay priests and seemingly opened the door for gay acceptance within the church. “When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby,” Francis told reporters. “If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem … they’re our brothers.” As the Associated Press points out, this is a radical change of position from Francis’ predecesscor, Pope Benedict XVI, who signed a church document in 2005 banning homosexuals from serving the church.
I’m not sure how the AP calls this a “radical change” from Pope Benedict.
And I don’t even understand the term used in the story about opening the door for gay acceptance in the Church. Were gays not allowed in the Church before? The Church calls all sinners, and last I checked that means everyone.
While some may start thinking that perhaps the pope shouldn’t give off the cuff interviews, the truth is that this happens with every recent pope. This reminds me of when Pope Benedict was reported in the media to have changed the Church’s teaching on contraception a few years ago. He didn’t, as we all know. But his words, if artfully and intentionally misconstrued, could’ve kinda’ sorta’ intimated a change. But that’s not what he meant.
Be prepared for liberal Catholic publications to take this and run. I expect this quote from Pope Francis to be used over the next few years almost as must as “judge not lest ye’ be judged.”