Short Answer: No
Pope Francis made some impromptu remarks for reporters while returning from World Youth Day, and now headlines across the mainstream media blare that he made some kind of stunning reversal of Catholic teaching. Earlier in the same interview, he half-jokingly said, “I think like a Jesuit.” True to the stereotype of the Society of Jesus, Pope Francis has a very logical mind, so we must pay careful attention to his words. What did Pope Francis actually say (emphasis added)?
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 [to homosexuality] is not the problem…they’re our brothers.Pope Francis speaks to reporters aboard his plane while returning to Rome from World Youth Day. (AP Photo/Luca Zennaro, Pool)
First of all, the supposedly provocative line begins with the word, “if,” and it’s a BIG IF. Most homosexuals do not accept Jesus’ teachings on chastity. Salvation comes from Jesus. Sin is a rejection of salvation. Adultery is a sin. Sex outside of marriage is adultery. The divine sacrament of marriage requires that one man and one woman vow their mutual love, fidelity, and openness to life publicly and before God. Therefore, homosexual sex is a rejection of Jesus. QED.
Some people with homosexual tendencies choose to accept the salvation of our Lord and maintain a life of chastity. This is the key to what Pope Francis is saying: people with homosexual desires who are able to exhibit this level of self-control should be welcomed as our brothers and given encouragement in their struggle. This is a very beautiful statement. However, it does not say anything about people who give in to carnal desires and live promiscuously—whether gay or straight.
Pope Francis does hint at this though. He says that the tendency to homosexuality is “not the problem,” which is to imply that there is a problem. There may not be an official “gay lobby” in the Holy See, but there is definitely a gay lobby in secular political life and it is viciously opposed to the Catholic Church. People who campaign for same-sex marriage or who objectify the human body do not have goodwill for us. We do not need to judge them because their actions speak for themselves.
It’s unclear whether the ellipsis indicates that Pope Francis spoke about any of this at all. He didn’t need to though. If you take his words at face value, he made a very powerful statement which encapsulates all of Catholic teaching on sexuality and chastity in a very simple and profound observation. He said exactly what he meant to say and nothing more. Liberal advocates of same-sex marriage—especially in the press—make a grave error by misinterpreting his words to imply otherwise.