Pope Francis has continued to present a more accepting approach to homosexuality in an extensive new interview with America magazine.
In it, the Pontiff acknowledged that the Catholic Church has a history of being obsessed by dogma and pettiness.
“The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all,” said Francis.
He went on to say: “In Buenos Aires I used to receive letters from homosexual persons who are ‘socially wounded’ because they tell me that they feel like the church has always condemned them. But the church does not want to do this.”
Francis also addressed his groundbreaking comment in July, one of the most conciliatory ever towards gay people by a Pope, that he is not in a position to judge gay people.
“During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person,” said the Pope.
“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy.”
Francis reiterated his concern that dogma could be holding the church back.
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.
“The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently,” said Francis.
Despite the Pope’s remarks, the Catholic Church remains opposed to same-sex marriage. It also officially condemns gay sex as “acts of grave depravity,” describing them as “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law”.