WASHINGTON – In a wide-ranging interview released in a publication of the Jesuit order, Pope Francis expanded dramatically on his recent comments that “if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge” — making clear that he intended that tolerant message to apply to all lesbian and gay people, not just priests and members of the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy.
“Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’” Pope Francis recounted telling someone who asked about the Church’s stance on homosexuality, later adding, “We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”
“With these latest comments, Pope Francis has pressed the reset button on the Roman Catholic Church’s treatment of LGBT people, rolling back a years-long campaign at the highest levels of the Church to oppose any measure of dignity or equality” Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin said. “Now, it’s time for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to catch up and drop their opposition to even the most basic protections for LGBT people. Otherwise, they risk being left far behind by American Catholics and this remarkable Pope.”
As HRC has previously noted, the vast majority of lay Catholics in the United States support LGBT equality. A recent poll from New York Times/CBS News found that more than six in 10 American Catholics support equal marriage, compared to 53% of the country as a whole. Despite this broad support among the laity, last year the Church hierarchy was one of the biggest investors in anti-LGBT campaigns in the United States — spending nearly $2 million in the failed attempts to write discrimination into the Minnesota constitution and stem marriage equality in Maine, Maryland and Washington.
“At a moment when Pope Francis is re-dedicating the Church to tirelessly helping the poor, it’s unacceptable for American bishops to continue wasting millions of parishioner dollars on harmful anti-LGBT political campaigns that target members of their own flock,” Griffin said. “For the sake of LGBT Catholics, it’s essential that Pope Francis’ inspiring words lead to transformative change throughout the Church hierarchy.”
Since his ascendance earlier this year, Pope Francis has made headlines time and time again with his tolerant and heartfelt proclamations — on issues ranging from LGBT equality, to gender equality, to a dedication to serving the poor.