It's approaching two years since this happened, but it seems relevant in light of recent events concerning homosexuality.

Speaking to reporters on his plane who had asked him about a "gay lobby" in the Vatican, Francis said, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

Clearly the church judges their actions (whenever there are actions accompanying the desires). What exactly did he mean by "who am I to judge"?


Pope Francis means that those with same-sex attraction who refuse to act on their impulses for the sake of the Kingdom should not be judged. Those with heterosexual attraction often judge a homosexual attracted person based on his or her feelings he/she cannot control, even if the person doesn't act on them. Pope Francis is saying that we shouldn't condemn same-sex attraction, as it is not something a person can control. I would go so far as to say that Pope Francis implicitly means that we should show mercy and compassion to those who, through weakness, fell into the trap of acting on homosexual feelings.

What Pope Francis is NOT saying is that homosexuality as in the lifestyle, and in particular sodomy, should be condoned. He's also not saying that homosexual feelings are good; a person who has such feelings cannot sin for have such feelings, because they are out of his control, but the feelings are still a temptation and "disorder." People often get annoyed by the Church's use of "disordered," but most don't realize that, to the Church, a heterosexual sexual feeling aimed at someone who is not your spouse is disordered as well, but neither homosexual attraction or adultuous feelings are a sin in themselves unless a person entertain them and act on them (through sodomy or adultery respectively).

Basically, Pope Francis has in mind the ancient distinction between the will and the passions/emotions: we have free will, but our passions or emotions (which we have in common with other animals) are not entirely up to our control, due to our fallen nature (this war between the reason and the passions over the will is called concupiscience). As such, Pope Francis distingishes between homosexual actions (controlled by the will) and homosexual feelings (controlled by the passions), and points out that homosexual feelings alone cannot be a sin, period, and that a person who suffers from them cannot be blamed or thought of as "lesser" because he possesses the temptation: we all have our temptations.

Most importantly, we should pray that all who suffer from sexual temptations, whether they be hetersexual or homosexual, emerge victoriously over their temptations in the Kingdom of God.

Christi pax.

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    How do you know this is what he really meant? You don't cite anything. – Geremia Feb 26 '19 at 19:33
  • @ Geremia: I'm interpreting his comments with the idea that the Pope is Catholic, that his words are compatible with previous teaching. For example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that homosexuals, like all persons, are to be loved, and it is precisely because we love them that we condemn homosexual behavior. – Lucretius Mar 1 '19 at 21:51

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