“There’s a lot of talk about the gay lobby, but I’ve never seen it on the Vatican ID card. When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them?They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency [i.e., same-sex attraction] is not the problem … they’re our brothers.”
The bolded line is the about only one that was picked up by mainstream media. World News Tonight on ABC immediately set up a comparison between Francis and his predecessors, Benedict XVI and John Paul II, making it sound like good Pope Francis is breaking away from the hateful, mean Benedict. Only two words from Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI were quoted by the media outlet, that homosexuality is “objectively disordered.” They gave three words to John Paul II, that homosexual acts are “against natural law.” In a one minute feature, there’s no possible way they could’ve done justice to the Church’s stance on homosexuality.
Long story short, Pope Francis is directly in line with Benedict and John Paul II. I will do my best to explain this- here goes!
To start, I would like to offer Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s (Benedict XVI) words in his 1986 address to John Paul II on the pastoral care of homosexual persons:
“The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation. Every one living on the face of the earth has personal problems and difficulties, but challenges to growth, strengths, talents and gifts as well. Today, the Church provides a badly needed context for the care of the human person when she refuses to consider the person as a “heterosexual” or a “homosexual” and insists that every person has a fundamental Identity: the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life.”
“It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs.”
So what is he saying here? The modern world tends to take little aspects of a person and then designate that as their entire identity. Sexuality is probably the most common one now. It’s problematic though. I’m heterosexual, but that isn’t the essence and entirety of who I am. The modern debate on gay marriage, however, is framed precisely in that reductionist way. To be gay means that your whole being is your attraction to the same sex. To be straight means that your whole being is your attraction to the opposite sex. To be against gay marriage, therefore, is to be against gay people, which is discriminatory, degrading, an affront to human dignity, and very un-Christ-like.
Orientation is key here. In its more ancient meaning, orientation meant you pointed yourself to the east, or towards the rising sun. This was of course symbolic of the risingSon, that being the resurrected Jesus Christ. That’s why most Catholic churches face east. Whereas Jews face towards Jerusalem, their place of revelation, and Muslims face Mecca, their place of revelation, Christians simply faced the east because the resurrected Christ (symbolized by the sun) was the complete and full revelation of God to man.
Now back to Pope Francis’ quote,
“When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency [i.e., same-sex attraction] is not the problem … they’re our brothers.”
Being part of a lobby is to promote the reductionist orientation (in this case the gay lobby) of “my sexuality is my entire identity.” Pope Francis, like B16 and JP2, is refusing to reduce a person in that way. “They’re our brothers.” We are all children of God in Christ. In accepting the Lord and having goodwill, you are orienting yourself towards Christ, which means you are working to properly order your life towards him, thus fulfilling the natural law written on our hearts and approaching the wood of the cross, on which is hung our Salvation.
Written by: Marty Arlinghaus