The Pope on the plane

The Pope on the plane

I’ve received a surprising number of e-mails relating to the Pope’s remarks on the plane.

During the flight from Rio to Rome, Francis held an open-ended press conference. John Paul II established the practice, and Benedict continued it. It provides an unscripted glimpse into the mind of the pope, and typically attracts a lot of press attention.

If you relied on the mainstream media, you might think Francis’ 80 minute press conference was devoted entirely to homosexuality. Actually, no. He also spoke about curial reform. About communion for Catholics who are divorced and remarried. About the ordination of women. About Pope Benedict. John L. Allen can fill you in.

These are interesting issues to Catholics, but not to the secular press. So they focused instead on Pope Francis’ remarks about not judging gay people. The press treated it as revolutionary, and it is revolutionary, if your knowledge of Catholic doctrine derives from The New York Times rather than the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (I think we can deduce that many journalists reside in something of an echo chamber.)

Here’s the full translation and context of the Pope’s remarks on this issue.

The question to Pope Francis from Ilse, a journalist on the papal flight

I would like to ask permission to pose a rather delicate question.  Another image that went around the world is that of Monsignor Ricca and the news about his personal life.  I would like to know, your Holiness, what will be done about this question.  How should one deal with this question and how does your Holiness wish to deal with the whole question of the gay lobby?

The Pope’s Answer

Regarding the matter of Monsignor Ricca, I did what Canon Law required and did the required investigation. And from the investigation, we did not find anything corresponding to the accusations against him. We found none of that. That is the answer.

But I would like to add one more thing to this: I see that so many times in the Church, apart from this case and also in this case, one  looks for the “sins of youth,” for example, is it not thus? And then these things are published. These things are not crimes. The crimes are something else: child abuse is a crime.

But sins, if a person, or secular priest or a nun, has committed a sin and then that person experienced conversion, the Lord forgives and when the Lord forgives, the Lord forgets and this is very important for our lives.

When we go to confession and we truly say “I have sinned in this matter,” the Lord forgets and we do not have the right to not forget because we run the risk that the Lord will not forget our sins, eh? This is a danger. This is what is important: a theology of sin.

So many times I think of St. Peter: he committed one of the worst sins denying Christ. And with this sin they made him Pope. We must think about fact often.

But returning to your question more concretely: in this case [Ricca] I did the required investigation and we found nothing. That is the first question.

Then you spoke of the gay lobby.  Agh… so much is written about the gay lobby.  I have yet to find on a Vatican identity card the word gay. They say there are some gay people here.  I think that when we encounter a gay person, we must make the distinction between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of a lobby, because lobbies are not good. They are bad. If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge that person? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this point beautifully but says, wait a moment, how does it say, it says, these persons must never be marginalized and they must be integrated into society.

The problem is not that one has this tendency; no, we must be brothers, this is the first matter.  There is another problem, another one: the problem is to form a lobby of those who have this tendency, a lobby of the greedy people, a lobby of politicians, a lobby of Masons, so many lobbies.  This is the most serious problem for me. And thank you so much for doing this question. Thank you very much!

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