Rome - “Being homosexual is not a crime..but a sin” Pope Francis reiterated the Catholic Church’s stand during an exclusive interview with correspondent Nicole Winfield, which took place on Tuesday at Casa Santa Marta and published by Associated Press on Wednesday.
The Holy Father also talked about the recurrence of his intestinal ailments but confirmed that he is good health. He also talked about the loss of late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
Pope Francis also lamented that the use of guns by civilians to defend themselves is becoming a “habit.”
He viewed continued dialogue with Beijing as the guiding principle in his efforts to safeguard his flock, who are a small minority in the Asian nation.
Distinguishing between sin and crime
Someone might say that homosexuality “is a sin.” In response, Pope Francis clarified, “First we distinguish between sin and crime,” adding, “It is also a sin to lack charity toward one another.”
With regard to the rights of people who identify as LGBT, the Holy Father said, “We are all children of God, and God wants us as we are and with the strength that each of us fights for our dignity.”
Then, as he often does in his preaching or interviews, he imagined a dialogue between two people. Someone might say that homosexuality “is a sin.” In response, the Pope clarified, “First we distinguish between sin and crime,” adding, “It is also a sin to lack charity toward one another.”
This was an opportunity for Pope Francis to address a criticism of laws that criminalize homosexuality, which he described as “unjust.” “I think there are more than 50 countries that have legal condemnation and of these, I think about 10, a little bit more or less, have the death penalty [for homosexuality]. They don't mention it directly, but they say “those who have unnatural attitudes.”
He also called on bishops who discriminate against persons with homosexual attractions and “LGBT” communities to take a different approach. In this area, the Pontiff recalls the Catechism of the Catholic Church which affirms “that people with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed, not marginalized..."
No one should be discriminated against, he insisted, adding that this is not just a question of homosexuality. “Even the worst murderer, the worst sinner should not be discriminated against. Every man and woman should have a window in their life to which they can turn their hopes and where they can see the dignity of God.”
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” and “under no circumstances can they be approved.”
In 2021 the Vatican’s doctrinal office issued a clarification approved by Pope Francis that the Church cannot bless same-sex unions because “God cannot bless sin.”
In his response to the question about laws that criminalize homosexuality, Pope Francis also described the ending of the pop opera “The Prodigal Son” as an example of how “God is generous in his mercy.”
Recurrence of intestinal ailment
The interview also touched on the Pope’s health, which the Holy Father described as “good,” considering his age (he turned 86 in December). At the same time, the Pope spoke about some health issues. Although the diverticulitis – for which he underwent colon surgery last July – has “returned,” the Pope said, “it is under control."
The pontiff also revealed that a small knee fracture, caused by a fall, had healed without surgery. “I'm already walking, helping myself with the wheelchair, but I'm walking.”
For his age, he repeated, everything is “normal.” He joked, “I could die, even tomorrow, but come on, everything is under control. My health is good. And I always ask for grace, for the Lord to give me a sense of humor.”
Benedict XVI a “good companion” and a father figure
Pope Francis described Benedict XVI as “a gentleman” and said that with his death “I lost a father”: “For me, he was a security. When faced with doubt, I would call for the car, go to the monastery and ask [him about it].” Asked once again asked about the possibility of resignation, the Pope said that if he ever renounced the Petrine ministry, he would use the title “bishop emeritus of Rome” and live in the Casa del Clero (a residence for clergy) in Rome.” “Benedict’s experience,” he added, already gives future popes greater freedom to choose to resign.
Pope Francis explained that his predecessor was still bound to a certain conception of the papacy: “In this, he was not completely free, because he might have wanted to return to his own land of Germany and continue studying theology from there. But he did everything he could to be as close as possible. And that was a good compromise, a good solution.”