The Church does not reject homosexuals, but they do “Church people”says Pope Francis in response to a letter sent by American Jesuit priest James Martin about the most common questions he is asked by LGBTQ Catholics and their families.
“God is a father and does not deny any of his children”, writes the pontiff in his brief response, published today in the “Outreach” medium, along with Father Martin’s questions: What would you say is the most important thing that LGBT people should know about God? What would you like the LGBT people knew about the church? And what do you say to an LGBT Catholic who has experienced rejection from the church?
The result is a “mini-interview”, as defined by the priest, activist for the rights of LGBTQ Catholics, general editor of the Jesuit magazine América and appointed by Francis as a consultant to the Vatican Secretariat of Communications in 2017.
“Regarding your questions, I can think of a very simple answer,” Francis writes in a handwritten letter in Spanish that appears published in the American media along with the English text.
To the first question, the pope replies that “God is a Father and does not deny any of his children. And God’s ‘style’ is ‘closeness, mercy and tenderness’. Along this path you will find God”, while regarding what he would like the LGTBQ community to know about the Church, he affirms that they “read the book of the Acts of the Apostles. There is the image of the living Church.”
Francis is clear about what he would say to a Catholic from that community who has suffered rejection from the Church.
”I would make him see that it is not ‘the rejection of the Church’ but of ‘people from the Church.’ The Church is a mother and summons all her children”he assures, before pointing out, as an example, “the parable of the party guests: ‘just, sinners, rich and poor, etc’. A ‘selective’ Church, a ‘pure-blooded’ Church, is not Holy Mother Church, but a sect”it states.
The pope has condemned on numerous occasions the rejection of homosexual people and last January, during a general audience, he asked parents to accompany a child who has a different sexual orientation and not hide behind condemnation behaviours.
The Argentine priest had previously said that gays have the right to be accepted by their families as sons and brothers.
He has also said that while the Church cannot accept same-sex marriage, it can support civil union laws designed to give same-sex couples joint rights in pensions and health care and in matters of inheritance.
Last year, the Vatican’s doctrinal office published a document saying that Catholic priests cannot bless same-sex unions, a decision that greatly disappointed gay Catholics.
In some countries, such as the United States and Germany, parishes and ministers have begun to bless same-sex unions instead of marriage, and bishops have been asked to institutionalize them de facto.
Conservatives within the church say the pope – who has sent thank-you notes to priests and nuns who care for gay Catholics – is giving mixed signals about homosexuality, confusing some of the faithful.
(with information from EFE and Reuters)
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