Pope Francis Says Accompanying LGBT People is “What Jesus Would Do Today”

By Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry, October 3, 2016

Pope Francis twice opined on LGBT issues during his Apostolic Journey to Georgia and Azerbaijan over the weekend.


Pope Francis during in-flight press conference

Interviewed during the return flight to Rome on Sunday, Pope Francis was asked about his repeated criticisms of gender theory and what his pastoral response to gender dysphoric persons might be.

Joshua McElwee of the National Catholic Reporter asked the pope what he would say to “someone who has struggled with their sexuality for years and feels that there is truly a problem of biology, that his aspect doesn’t correspond to what he or she feels is their sexual identity?”

In his response, Pope Francis called for the church to accompany people as they discern moral decisions in their own circumstances. The pope said that even as pope he had “accompanied people with homosexual tendencies,” adding:

“I have accompanied people with homosexual tendencies, I have also met homosexual persons, accompanied them, brought them closer to the Lord, as an apostle, and I have never abandoned them. People must be accompanied as Jesus accompanies them, when a person who has this condition arrives before Jesus, Jesus surely doesn’t tell them ‘go away because you are homosexual.'”

Pope Francis also shared his perspective on a meeting he had last year with Diego Neria Lejárraga, a transgender man from Spain who had written to the pope. According to the National Catholic Reporter:

“‘[Neria] is a young woman who suffered much because she felt like a young man,’ the pope explained. ‘She felt like a young man, but she was physically a young woman.’

“The woman, Francis said, had undergone gender reassignment surgery and had then married a woman. ‘He wrote me a letter saying that, for him, it would be a consolation to come [see me] with his wife,’ the pope said, clarifying: ‘He that was her but is he.'”

The pope explained how Neria Lejárraga was mistreated by a younger priest, who would yell that the transgender man would be going to Hell, while an older priest invited him to the Sacraments of Reconciliation and of Eucharist. Francis commented:

“Life is life and things must be taken as they come. Sin is sin. And tendencies or hormonal imbalances have many problems and we must be careful not to say that everything is the same. Let’s go party. No, that no, but in every case I accept it, I accompany it, I study it, I discern it and I integrate it. This is what Jesus would do today!”

Francis added that the press should not report “the Pope sanctifies transgenders.” He added, “It’s moral problem. It’s a human problem and it must be resolved always. . .with the mercy of God, with the truth. . .always with an open heart.”

The pope also criticized again the ambiguous concepts of gender theory and ideological colonization, saying:

“What I said is that wickedness which today is done in the indoctrination of gender theory. . .a French father told me that he was speaking with his children at the table, he and his wife were Catholics, ‘rosewater Catholics,’ but Catholics! And he asked his 10-year-old son: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’- ‘a girl.’ The father realized that at school they were teaching him gender theory, and this is against the natural things. One thing is that a person has this tendency, this condition and even changes their sex, but it’s another thing to teach this in line in schools in order to change the mentality. This is what I call ideological colonization.”

This criticism followed similar remarks earlier in the weekend trip, in which he said gender theory was “a great enemy to marriage today.” Francis continued in remarks to clergy, religious, and pastoral workers in Georgia:

“Today there is a world war to destroy marriage. Today there are ideological colonisations which destroy, not with weapons, but with ideas.  Therefore, there is a need to defend ourselves from ideological colonisations.”

Bondings 2.0 will provide updates this week, including reactions from Catholics, as they occur. Worth remembering as the remarks of the pope and his responders are interpreted and received are words from the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to summarize this most recent Apostolic Journey: “Don’t turn differences into sources of conflict, but of mutual enrichment.”

14 replies
  1. healthroks
    healthroks says:

    What’s really great is I accompany heterosexuals, to bring them closer to God as well.

    And also:
    Gender theory – the theory that this wonderful and mysterious God made us all in these two neat, small boxes that we humans can comprehend.

  2. Wilhelm Wonka
    Wilhelm Wonka says:

    Pope Francis ‘ rambling responses to such questions assure me of one thing: that he is as clueless on LGBT issues as his predecessors. And this wilful ignorance expresses itself in manufactured alarm (as ignorance often does) in his warning of attacks on the institution of family from so-called “gender theory”. Oh, please.
    These are pure fantasy-land musings. On anyone else’s lips, they’d sound hilarious and would be fodder for Saturday -night satire.

    What is almost equally funny is having a train of serious-minded journalists eager for the opinions of such a man. I really don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    Truth is if this man weren’t pope no one with any intellectual self-respect would seek his opinion on matters about which he is so obviously (and amusingly) out of his depth.

  3. Barry Blackburn
    Barry Blackburn says:

    The true value of Pope Francis’ reply is what he said about keeping an open mind and welcoming like Jesus. We Catholics must not expect the Pope to be an authority on gender identity or sexual orientation. We must avoid the tendency to look to the pope or the Church authorities for answers to all our social and scientific issues. If we do this we become infantile. People of Faith live their Faith by not parking their brain inside a Catholic ghetto but keep an open mind and welcome the world like Jesus.

  4. Larry
    Larry says:

    Unfortunately, the Pope still is stuck in the language of “homosexual tendencies” and is now solidly in the “gender theory/colonization” camp echoing our own flawed American prelates who see a war on marriage. While the Pope should be congratulated for his gentle tone of walking with homosexuals [still can’t say gay] unless he educates himself as W Wonka says, that path will be walking us to the confessional to absolve our “sin” of being gay.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] has criticized repeatedly what he terms “ideological colonization” (e.g. here, here, and here). Even though the ideas he promoted further are not […]

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  3. […] record on LGBT issues. The pope of “Who am I to judge?” is also the pope of “there is a world war to destroy marriage.” In just over two weeks, Catholics will gather in Chicago to discuss just what to make of […]

  4. […] equality (e.g., in Slovakia, Slovenia, Philippines), even saying there was a “world war to destroy marriage.” Moreover, he has remained silent about efforts to criminalize and discriminate against […]

  5. […] in less abrasive terms. Pope Francis’ record on gender identity is mixed: he met with and spoke approvingly of a transgender man from Spain while at the same time repeatedly condemning “gender […]

  6. […] in-flight interviews, comments which received mixed reactions from LGBT advocates. First, the pope responded to a question about how he would care pastorally for a person who is gender dysphoric. Francis shared that he […]

  7. […] creates confusion when trying to figure out where the pope stands on LGBT issues.  Oakes used the recent example of the pope’s remarks about “gender ideology” in a speech, which were followed up […]

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  9. […] in some of the ways that Pope Francis is now talking about pastoral ministry, most recently last week when he encouraged pastoral ministers working with LGBT people to take each situation on a case by […]

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