John Westen

What Pope Francis could not mean regarding gay priests and what he actually said

John Westen
John Westen

The Pope’s remarks on the ‘gay lobby’ in response to a question on his return flight from Rio to Rome have sparked misleading coverage all over the world.  From a look at the headlines of the major mainstream news sources in America and from the television and radio coverage comes a very confusing take on what the Pope actually said.

Pope Francis says he won't 'judge' gay priests - USA Today

Pope Francis says he won't judge gay priests | Fox News

Pope Signals Openness to Gay Priests - WSJ.com

Pope Francis says he will not judge priests for being gay | World ... Guardian UK

Pope Shifts Church's Tone on Gay People - ABC News

Pope Francis on gays: "Who am I to judge?" - CBS News Pope Francis says he won't judge gays - World - CBC News

Pope Charts New Ground On Gay Priests And Women - Forbes

Pope Francis says gays should not be judged - latimes.com

And from an Israeli and a UK publication there was the following:

Pope digresses from document of predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, declaring that men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests - Haaretz.com

Pope Francis marks shift in attitude to gay Catholics on Brazil trip - Independent.co.uk

First off we need to look at what the Pope actually said, and in the context of the question asked.

He was asked a double question about how he would deal with “intimacy” of Bishop Ricca the prelate of the Vatican Bank and the whole issue of the ‘gay lobby.’

His full answer is posted at the bottom of this article but here are the key quotes being given erroneous interpretations in the mainstream media.
 

Distortion 1: Most media outlets are suggesting that Pope Francis is somehow saying there is nothing wrong with being gay

“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?” he asked, according to a Vatican Radio English translation of his remarks.

Understanding the Catholic teaching on homosexuality is necessary to understand the meaning of this phrase.

The Catholic faith teaches that all homosexual acts are presented in Sacred Scriptures as “acts of grave depravity”; that they are “intrinsically disordered” and that “under no circumstances can they be approved.” (Catechism 2357)

In another quote the Pope also said, according to Catholic News Serivce: “The problem isn't this (homosexual) orientation -- we must be like brothers and sisters.”

This quote cannot mean that the homosexual inclination is not any problem at all. The Catechism teaches that even the homosexual inclination is “objectively disordered” and is a “trial” for most who experience it.  (Catechism 2358)
 

Distortion 2: Since the context of the quote is in a discussion about a clergyman who is alleged to have been involved (as a priest) in a homosexual affair, the implication is that the Catholic Church is okay with gay priests.

Firstly, the Roman Catholic Church opposes any sexual activity by priests since they vow celibacy.

Secondly, especially after the horrors of the sex abuse crisis, which many have seen to be related to past tolerance of an active gay sub-culture within the Church, the Catholic Church has forbidden even those men with fixed homosexual inclinations from entering the seminary. In November 2005, the Congregation for Catholic Education released the "Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocation with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders."

The Instruction forbade admission to seminary to "those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture’."
 

Distortion 3: Never judge and never discriminate.  A few quotes from the Pope strung together would also leave a faulty impression without a knowledge of Catholic teaching on the matter. 

In addition to the ‘who am I to judge’ quote some media are translating one phrase of the Pope to say that there must be no discrimination against homosexual persons, and that they must be accepted.

The Catechism does say: They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. (Catechism 2358)

The Catechism is specific that “unjust” discrimination is to be avoided, but the Church also teaches specifically that there is proper discrimination to be applied when it comes to confronting homosexual actions and tendencies.

Firstly as noted above, the ban on homosexuals entering the priesthood is already discrimination, a proper discrimination.  Also in this 1992 Vatican document, the Catholic Church spells out other areas where such discrimination is needed, specifically in the areas of adoption, foster care, teaching, the military, and more.


And finally the most complete transcript of the full remarks of Pope Francis on the plane this morning returning from Rio comes from a couple of sources. (update: The Vatican has released a full transcript in Italian available here http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/speeches/2013/july/documents/papa-francesco_20130728_gmg-conferenza-stampa_it.html )

The first question was: Holiness, there was news published about the intimacy of Monsignor Ricci, how will you address this issue and how does His Holiness intend to address the whole issue of the "gay lobby"?

Vatican reporter John Allen gives this transcript of the Pope’s remarks:

 The Ricca Case

“I did what canon law requires, which is to conduct a preliminary investigation. We didn’t find anything to confirm the things he was accused of, there was nothing … I’d like to add that many times we seem to seek out the sins of somebody’s youth and publish them. We’re not talking about crimes, which are something else. The abuse of minors, for instance, is a crime. But one can sin and then convert, and the Lord both forgives and forgets. We don’t have the right to refuse to forget … it’s dangerous. The theology of sin is important. St. Peter committed one of the greatest sins, denying Christ, and yet they made him pope! Think about that.”

Gay Lobby

“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 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.”


One final add on to the pope’s gay lobby remarks was provided by the BBC: “The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worse problem."

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

Thank you so much for your support. 

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