A lot is being made, and rightly so, of an astonishingly frank interview given by Francis 1 on the plane back from (yet another) astonishing Catholic World Youth Day Mass on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. Only 3 million turned up but, hey, perhaps there was a footy match which led to a low turn out!
The Catholic Herald has a great editorial on the interview here. Even Andrew Sullivan is impressed by the interview, here. (Off topic, if you do not like the Clintons, read Sullivan on their hypocrisy here).
On the question of homosexuality the editorial in the Herald offers this astute reflection:
"What is most striking about the Holy Father’s now famous comment – “Who am I to judge them if they’re seeking the Lord in good faith?” – is how evangelical it is. It is implicitly encouraging gay people to walk the path of holiness that leads to union with God. In other words, he is saying that the Church has a vision for gay men that extends far beyond the condemnation of particular sexual acts. It is a vision whose goal is nothing less than heaven.
When the Pope says “Who I am to judge?” he is not suggesting there are no objective moral norms, but rather that we cannot read others’ hearts and minds, and therefore are in no position to make definitive judgments. We can deduce from his remarks that he wants the Church worldwide to take an evangelical approach to gay people, to invite them to hear the universal call to holiness amid the din of our hedonistic culture. He also wants Catholics to refrain from making judgments about individual gay people, to treat them as “our brothers” and accompany them on the long and, at times, arduous journey to the Lord."
In other words Pope Francis has framed the question about homosexuality in such a way that the answer does not come out as 'you must be celibate' or 'you must change'. His answer is a question of himself which constrains any propensity to condemn and a statement which both recognises and encourages the possibility of gay people finding God:
"Who am I to judge them if they're seeking the Lord in good faith?"
At a stroke, as the editorial notes, Pope Francis has changed nothing about the objective teaching of his church but he has changed everything about the tone with which Catholicism will now speak about homosexuality.
There is something here for all to consider who follow in the way of Christ.