The deeply flawed opportunism of Pope Francis

If Francis’s recent remarks were made without prudential concern for how they would be received, they are deeply troubling. If they were carefully made with specific attention to how they would be received, they are deeply troubling.

Pope Francis leads his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Oct. 21, 2020.(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“Pope Blesses Gay Weddings”, declares the headline in Metro, one of Britain’s largest newspapers, over the subhead, “Homosexuals Are Children of God … They Have a Right To Civil Unions”.

True? Accurate? Close enough? Not really. Sort of. Maybe.

Pope Francis’s comments, which appear in the documentary “Francesco”, which premiered today in Rome, were not quite as clear as many of the headlines indicate, even if the actual comments were just as attention-grabbing.

“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it,” Pope Francis stated, later adding, “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered … I stood up for that.”

I don’t know the specific question asked of Francis, but CNA reports that the “film chronicles the approach of Pope Francis to pressing social issues, and to pastoral ministry among those who live, in the words of the pontiff, ‘on the existential peripheries.'” I don’t live in Italy, but the notion that homosexuals in, say, the United States are confined to the “existential peripheries” is rather humorous (though to say so is, I’m sure, considered homophobic and intolerant.) It is nearly impossible to go out of one’s house, or turn on the TV or radio, or read a newspaper or magazine and not be bombarded with the existential omnipresence of homosexuality. Needless to say, gay is always presented as normal, great, and requiring even more—if possible—affirmation. In fact, the Reign of Gay is so 2014; we now are fully living in the Tyranny of Trans.

But, I digress. The matter of the specific question might not be clear, but the end result of this quintessentially Francis moment seems clear enough: more controversy, more confusion, further sniping over what the Church really teaches, and where papal comments in documentaries should be placed in the realm of magisterial statements: Above interviews given to an elderly, atheist Italian journalist? Below off-the-cuff remarks made while flying at 30,000 feet? Close to private phone calls made to this mother or that old friend?

Here’s the thing: if Francis’s remarks were made without prudential concern for how they would be received, they are deeply troubling. Or worse. If they were carefully made with specific attention to how they would be received, they are deeply troubling. Or worse.

Yes, everyone has a “right” to be a “part of a family”; their very existence suggests they came from a family. But is Francis then saying that homosexuals have a “right” to have a family? It appears so. As the CNA report notes, the film includes a story of Francis “encouraging two Italian men in a same-sex relationship to raise their children in their parish church, which, one of the men said, was greatly beneficial to his children.” It also notes that in his 2013 book On Heaven and Earth, Francis stated that laws “assimilating” homosexual relationships to marriage are “an anthropological regression,” saying that if same-sex couples “are given adoption rights, there could be affected children. Every person needs a male father and a female mother that can help them shape their identity.”

So, which is it? Well, that probably depends on the day and week. Changing course and shifting narrative parameters for different audiences has been a regular feature of this pontificate, which often flies by the seat of its sentimentally-inclined papal pants.

Of more interest to me, in many ways, is the statement, “They’re children of God…” First, is Francis speaking of Catholics who are homosexual? Struggling with same-sex attraction? Or all homosexuals? Again, not clear. But the “we’re all children of God” slogan has been a prominent feature of this pontificate, as when, in a video message in January 2016, Francis stated, “Many think differently, feel differently, seeking God or meeting God in different ways. In this crowd, in this range of religions, there is only one certainty that we have for all: we are all children of God…” The same sentiment can be found in the recently released encyclical Fratelli tutti.

Is it true that we are all children of God. Well, yes—but no.

Whenever I hear the statement “we are all children of God”, I immediately think of what the Apostle John wrote in his first Epistle:

No one born of God commits sin; for God’s nature abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God. By this it may be seen who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not do right is not of God, nor he who does not love his brother. (1 Jn 3:9-10)

Strong meat, without doubt, and certainly out of touch—thankfully—with the intolerant “tolerance” of our current age. But John is simply voicing what is a strong theme in the New Testament: becoming a children of God requires grace, faith, conversion, and the pursuit of holiness (cf. Jn 1:12; Rom 8:14; Gal 3:25-29). And there are many who knowingly refuse the gift of divine sonship.

Benedict XVI, in a 2012 General Audience, made an essential distinction that Francis often seems to either ignore or collapse. God, said Benedict, “is our Father because he is our Creator.” We are all created in the image of God (cf. Gen 1:27), and so for God “we are not anonymous, impersonal beings but have a name.” Then Benedict states:

Nonetheless this is still not enough. The Spirit of Christ opens us to a second dimension of God’s fatherhood, beyond creation, since Jesus is the “Son” in the full sense of “one in being with the Father”, as we profess in the Creed. Becoming a human being like us, with his Incarnation, death and Resurrection, Jesus in his turn accepts us in his humanity and even in his being Son, so that we too may enter into his specific belonging to God. Of course, our being children of God does not have the fullness of Jesus. We must increasingly become so throughout the journey of our Christian existence, developing in the following of Christ and in communion with him so as to enter ever more intimately into the relationship of love with God the Father which sustains our life.

It is this fundamental reality that is disclosed to us when we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit and he makes us turn to God saying “Abba!”, Father. We have truly preceded creation, entering into adoption with Jesus; united, we are really in God and are his children in a new way, in a new dimension.

It is not enough, then, to say that a homosexual—or anyone else—is “a child of God” and leave it at that, as if the central mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation are just poetic niceties or doctrinal distractions. The entire moral life, as St. John Paul II emphasized in Veritatis Splendor, is oriented toward authentic freedom and reality—that is, God Himself—and that most certainly includes the truth about sexuality, marriage, and procreation. “For this is the love of God,” says the Apostle John, “that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 Jn 5:3). Or, put another way, God’s commandments cause no misery.

Now, if everyone is born a child of God and that’s all that matters, then being re-born by the power of the Holy Spirit so we might, in Jesus Christ, have communion with the Father is mere sectarianism or, worse, intolerant dogmatism. If we are all children of God on our own, then the Church is non-essential and Catholicism is nonsensical. And there certainly is no reason to believe that chastity is for everyone, marriage is for a man and woman, and that sex is meant for marriage alone.

Pope Francis has, at times, strongly upheld those teachings of the Church. At times, however, he seems like a Seventies-styled Jesuit trying to grapple with the “realities” of the early 2000s. How much better it would be, I think, if he would take to heart these words of wisdom from his predecessor:

The power that Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors is, in an absolute sense, a mandate to serve. The power of teaching in the Church involves a commitment to the service of obedience to the faith. The Pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary: the Pope’s ministry is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his Word. He must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism.

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About Carl E. Olson 1230 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. His recent books on Lent and Advent—Praying the Our Father in Lent (2021) and Prepare the Way of the Lord (2021)—are published by Catholic Truth Society. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @carleolson.


  1. Trying to be the contrary advocate to my own disgust with what I unsuccessfully resisted for a long time in arriving at very low opinion of Francis as a man, independent of his sacred responsibility, I can not identify any basis for believing him to not be a rather juvenile narcissist intent on finding endless ways to prove his superiority to every pope and saint in Catholic history combined while remaining oblivious to the massive damage he does. The problem for the Church is what to do with a naked Emperor.

    • What to do??? Bishops need to start asking for his resignation.

      If the Pope refuses to act like the Pope, he needs to step down. Being Pontiff is a full-time job – not a day job.

    • He is from Argentina ( it is too much), he is a jesuit ( it is too much) and they choose him to be pope. What do you expect? God gave us de kind o pope everybody wanted. Now endure. Let us pray.

    • Pope Frances either fails to complete the sequence to his comments or purposely lays these statements out so as to “open” the dialogue. Either way he fails to finish what needs to be said to complete the point. The point is sin.
      When Frances was first interviewed with his “who am I to judge” comment and now his “ they are all children of God” statement, he appears to leave out “repentance” from the life of sin of these sinners.
      We all live with sin. We as faithful Catholics seek forgiveness for our sin, however or whatever that may be. It’s all sin. The progressive side of this only wants the issue to be about opening the church up to them. But, Frances and our Bishops must talk about moving away from the “lifestyle” or the recurring sinful life and become part of the church as it should be.
      The church obviously has gays, divorced and sinful “heterosexuals” of all types within. The issue overall is the failure to speak about the “sin”.
      To the progressive, there isn’t any sin. There isn’t responsibility. Don’t judge me!
      Hope that made sense

    • “Massive damage”? “juvenile narcissist”? The reviling of Pope Francis on a certain number of conservative Catholic websites like this one can’t be left unchallenged – as you can see from the two phrases above – the writer is unhinged as well as not presenting any evidence at all as for the beat up over his alleged comments about civil unions, the author of the article does not clarify the actual words used. As for homosexuals, notwithstanding the hysteria of homophobia in some quarters: The Catholic Catechism (2nd edition) clearly states that” This inclination, which is inherently disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.” (# 2358) And where in the Gospels does Jesus say anything about the orientation – seems like he was inclusive of tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners, calling all to the Kingdom of God through his love.

      • Priests and bishops like McCarrick are such a disaster for the Church not because of their homosexual ‘inclination.’ In theory, one could live a wholesome Catholic life of Grace while struggling with sinful inclinations. But McCarrick and his ilk don’t see sodomy as mortal sin, and at the same time they are holding positions of religious and moral authority in the Church. They attempt to normalize sodomy. We will probably never find out how many active homosexuals were ordained to the priesthood by McCarrick and his episcopal ilk.

      • “the hysteria of homophobia”

        It is not hysteria, and it is not a phobia, which is an irrational fear. It is a moral judgment of a vile, evil behavior.

        “constitutes for most of them a trial”

        Presumably that “most of them” doesnt include the ones flauting their sins proudly and attempting to force those who know that it is sinful to pretend that it is not.

        “And where in the Gospels does Jesus say anything about the orientation – seems like he was inclusive of tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners, calling all to the Kingdom of God through his love.”

        He did not say that sinners should just continue sinning because their sin was actually a good. He called them to repent.

      • Thank you for your courageous and informed response! My heart drops as I read all the criticism of our Pope Francis. All I can think of are the numerous encounters that Jesus has with the Pharisees and teachers of the law. They profess only the letter of the law, but do not live by the Spirit of the law. It’s so hard for me to see Christianity in those who spew such disgust for our Pope. Yes, we are called to repent. But we are also called to FORGIVE! Jesus forgave all those, US, who crucified Him even without repenting!!!!

  2. Like yourself Carl, I cringed at the Pope’s misuse of the term “children of God” and I fear that for some, this will be one of the most useful takeaway lines that will be thrown at us from countless pulpits all round the world, as well as being now the reason for validating homosexual “unions”. Frankly I was not comforted to read the references in B16’s 2012 General Audience. The Grace of “Sonship” was given by Jesus when He inaugurated the life of Sanctifying Grace, the Baptismal Garment. It this Baptismal Grace which reconfigures our souls and makes us “sons” of God who one day will “see God”. The Church has only ever used “children of God” in this context. In St. Paul we are made “sons of God”. Because “children of God” is developed separately in the General Audience – one with a looser explanation, it could explain why the idea was making the rounds some years ago that by His Incarnation, all human beings obtained some participation in Jesus Christ. That was another attempt to eliminate the necessity of Baptism to make us “children of God”.

  3. This latest epiphany is actually the earlier halfway-house idea Bergoglio took when still in Argentina (“I stood for that”), and reported at the time as his alternative to oxymoronic gay “marriage” which then was still being debated in the parliament.

    So, as in this untimely recollection, the pope insinuates (deliberately/ indeliberately?) such opinions/suggestions/impressions through either impromptu airplane Q & A, or repeated interviews by an atheist journalist who doesn’t take notes, or an embedded footnote #351 in Amoris Laetitia, or Pachamama props, or now this oblique entry in a documentary—-where the possible secularist expedient of civil unions morphs into a redefinition of the “family.”

    Again, no apparent editorial review—-instead corporate “plausible deniability” seems to converge with clericalist opportunism. But the rest of the story is that Pope Francis will never cross the line into actual heresy by dressing this stuff up as formal teachings. (There’s a role for “borders” after all!) But, instead, seemingly two-faced affirmation of the natural law adulterated with contradictory enabler-hints. Cancel-culture amnesia toward the non-demonstrable first principle of non-contradiction…the New Paradigm? We long for simpler times when Renaissance popes simply bedded concubines and were upfront about it. And nephews were made into cardinals.

    Trashed into the ditch (Laudato si and the “throwaway culture!”)— the calling today is for real “families” to stay together in the sacramental and prayer life, and the life of common sense. The Good Samaritan of Fratelli tutti seems to be taking a different road.

    • Is he, perhaps, Fr, trying to avert attention from pressure to release the McCarrick Report? I, as a good, practicing Catholic lose more confidence in Francis each day! Sometimes I wish he would a) stop doing interviews; b) stop writing; c) stop talking; and just pray.

      • Jeff, “as a good, practicing Catholic”, perhaps you might want to practice humility and charity instead of making a personal “wish list” for our Pope to follow. Maybe you should follow your own advice.

  4. Carl said: How much better it would be, I think, if he would take to heart these words of wisdom from his predecessor:

    I offer a “How much better it would be if he (Pope Francis) would take to heart these words of wisdom from his Lord and Savior:

    “Get behind me Satan.”

      • Why is it I keep imagining going to Dairy Queen and ordering a fratelli tutti with extra chocolate?? That is how serious it is to me. Sorry I had to say that. May God have Mercy. Why can’t he do something real???

  5. I don’t believe in coincidences. Here we are a few weeks before our US presidential election. The favored candidate by Rome and our bishops is one- an alleged faithful Catholic – who in an official position officiated at the “marriage” of two homosexuals. Don’t be surprised if this is not yet another attempt to canonize Rome’s candidate. If my speculation is correct, all I can say is that we now have a Church where politics trumps morality.

  6. There was a commentator on Catholic radio yesterday that said when the Pope makes a mistake he then is not infallible, and at that instant, is not Pope anymore. Only caught the last part of it, though.

    Has this occurred? The commentator said this would never happen. Confusion abounds..

    If this is allowed (not getting into what the Bible says) then immediately you should be able to ordain married men. after all, a priest deserves to be part of a family. A nun or any other religious vocation would be able to be part of a family. What is an acceptable family now?

    As they say down at the courthouse, this is a very slippery slope.

    • The Pope is infallible within specific limits, and something said in an interview isn’t within those limits.

      “(1) The pronouncement must be made by the lawful successor to Peter. (2) The subject matter must be in the area of faith and morals. (3) The pope must be speaking ex cathedra, that is from the very seat and office of Peter. In this way he must be specifically intending to proclaim a doctrine, binding the entire Church to its assent. If one or more of these elements is missing, there is no infallible pronouncement. Most “examples” of papal “errors” emerge when critics ignore the necessity of these three points.”

  7. Now is the winter of our discontent
    Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
    And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
    In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
    . . .
    Deformed, unfinish’d, sent before my time
    Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
    And that so lamely and unfashionable
    That dogs bark at me as I halt by them;
    Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
    Have no delight to pass away the time,
    Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
    And descant on mine own deformity:
    And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
    To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
    I am determined to prove a villain
    And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
    Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
    By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams,
    . . .

  8. There is ambiguity, perhaps, in the statement that everyone “has a right to be part of a family “. Mentioned later, “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered … I stood up for that.” Would also seem to indicate seems to condone is also ambiguous. At least to me, which I am giving great latitude, it could mean a union which would come under the kind of law that civil unions are concerned. Yet that would beg the question. It is not the sort of union that can fall under that kind without accepting that it is already that kind of union, as with a man and a woman. Pope Francis is not dealing with this rationally but seemingly, “emotionally”. To me, this “reasoning” could apply to the acceptance of other “unions” on the “periphery “. The way, at least to me, Pope Francis deals with highly fought over issues is very Hegelian. He seems to want to synthesize something new from opposites so that the world would accept some sort of middle ground and everyone would live in peace and harmony.

  9. It is no wonder Catholics are confused. A few years ago I attended a parish that had a person in RCIA and in an openly homosexual relationship (and planned to legally get married to her partner who was already “Catholic”) – obviously with the pastor’s “blessing”. One Sunday a visiting priest gave a homily on the Church’s teaching on homosexual relations. Well, you can only imagine the uproar. If I recall, the pastor apologized for what the other priest had said.
    Like a friend once told me, if you invite a fallen away Catholic back to church they will promptly remember why they left in the first place.

    “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:8

    • Very perceptive comment. And it does prompt the question, if your Church is unclear about basics, how can you credibly evangelize or even retain members?

  10. The first sentence COULD be a reference to the right of the homosexual not to be thrown out of the family he was born into. This is a common talking point for homosexuals, claiming that they were thrown out of their family after revealing they are homosexuals. Perhaps that part of the quote is taken out of context in the film, and that would explain why the Pope included the words “thrown out”. This may be simply a sentence taken out of context by the filmmaker.

    But the second sentence about civil unions seems to be taken from a different part of the conversation, and is puzzling. Because Pope Francis should never say such a thing, and it is hard to imagine how it could be taken out of context.

    The part in the film where two gay men say the Pope told them to take their kids to church is something that Pope Francis has said before.

    At any rate, Francis is a very bad pope. He’s a caricature of a pope, a creepy clown pope, wandering through the darkness of the world scaring people.

    The second sentence about

        • Thank you Juan for your comment. I don’t always agree with anything, I really like to review in detail, and this thread has offered that opportunity about comments made by our Holy Father, evidently it was a “hatchet” job on several interviews, presented in a way that indicated an entirely different view, than what he believes. God Bless our Holy Father, may he continue to be Holy

    • Sorry but that doesn’t wash.

      We have a right to be part of a family? What sort of nonsense is that? The moment you are born you are part of a family. Whether the are good, bad or indifferent it is not a matter of rights.

      Once you start talking of rights, then that’s basically saying that if my family wont have a bar of me then one must be provided. There is no such right.

      What he means is unions make families and granting them civil union, then they in turn become “family”. But that is just pure hogwash. Two guys and two girls can’t make a family no matter how much they try because they simply cannot be united in an act that makes families. So what follows then is exactly what we see now, they demand that they be allowed to adopt or else have kids via surrogacy.

      Which ever way you twist it this is evil.

  11. Pope Francis appears to have no idea of what the family is because he has no idea as to what the roles of its members are. For instance, he shows that he has no notion of what it is to be a (spiritual) father. What father would give his son a stone when he asked for bread? Well then, what father would give his children confusion when they have asked for clarity? What father would throw out declarations like bad food to starving children so that they might grapple and fight over it? What father would do this and then shut himself in when his children wait outside in the cold? Does he see what he is doing to his own children? What father, if he be truly loving, chooses between his children. If Pope Francis is the father in the story of the prodigal son, then he has not only avoided speaking (“dialoguing”) with the son that has always been with him, he has put this son out, locked the doors, and sent him away from hearth and home declaring to all on his estate to treat this son as one who is prodigal.

  12. Of course Pope Francis is contradicting Church teaching and abusing his office in the process. That’s obvious. The real question is, what can be done about it? In addition to having absolute institutional power over the Church, Pope Francis has a numerical majority of Catholics behind him (at least in the West) and, further, endorsing LGBT ideology will give him yet further non-Catholic support. Yet, it seems to me, he has made a tactical mistake if only faithful Catholics will unite and seize upon it. The mistake is that he has flouted Church doctrine in an in-your-face manner. This is an opportunity for faith Catholics, including those who are bishops and those who are cardinals, to unite and say: “Enough!, this is Bergoglio’s personal opinion and it is wrong and we defy it and shame on this Pope for expressing it. If he cannot accept Church teaching it is time for him to step down.”

    Do I think that traditional Catholics will unite to deliver this message in a strong enough way to make a difference? No. And that, more than Pope Francis, is the real problem in the Church today.

  13. The Hermeneutic Of Continuity was on the roof.
    The HOC fell off the roof.
    We are thinking ‘Angels Wings’ for the Funeral Mass.

    • Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
      Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,
      All the pope’s horses and all the pope’s men,
      Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

  14. Early on in any conversion story, the person realizes that his own assumptions and his impressions are not reliable standards with which to determine truth. That takes, obviously, a measure of humility.

    It seems to me that Pope Bergoglio is in need of both conversion and humility.

    Thank you, Mr. Olson, for your ongoing precise and very salient observations concerning this disastrous period in papal history.

    Shall we call it The Jesuitical Imbroglio?

    • That is exactly what I have been advocating for – a worldwide novena for the conversion of Bergoglio to Christ. And that must be stated publicly as the intention.

  15. Would it not be better to replace “children of God” with Jesus’own words, after all Jesus is one with the Father, hence God; “For whoever does will of of My Father is my brother or sister.” Is same-sex union the Father’s will? Is any civil law that condones or protects same-sex union the Father’s will?

    • Superb analysis Carl; very lucidly presented; exegetically and catechetically accurate.
      Excellent observation, Richard.
      Likewise, could Francis in truth say: “It is no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me.” If he can’t say that in truth, how can he lead a billion or more Catholics to the place where they have Jesus Christ in their heart, as Apostle Paul in II Corinthians 13:5 says is essential – “If you can’t affirm that Jesus Christ is in you, you have failed the test; you are a counterfeit.”
      If Christ lives in us then we will be doing our best to live Christ’s life-style and to stand for Christ’s major principle of obedience to God’s commands.
      Appeals to Most Blessed Mother Mary will not save heretics, for in Revelation 12:17b Apostle John instructs us that her children all obey God’s commands and faithfully witness to the truths Christ taught us.
      One factor not mentioned is that of: ‘Trying to keep up with the Jones’. The Pope’s advisors are well aware of large numbers flocking to mega-churches, like Hillsong, where leadership is in every sort of immoral relationship and teaches the people that they can do as they want sexually for it has nothing to do with their faith in God.
      How few today are wise in God’s ways to know immorality opens the door for evil.

  16. It is absolutely wonderful to see how his Holiness has evolved on this issue and come to recognize the need to respect the basic humanity of all God’s children. Perhaps LGBTQ people will not be afforded the opportunity to marry in the church in our lifetimes. But this revelation unequivocally leads the church in that direction, irrespective of whatever qualifications about official/unofficial teachings there may be.

    • Speaking of LGBTQ politics, one cover story was that a former President of the United States had simply “evolved” between 2008 and 2012. In the 2008 election year Obama said “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman; I am not in favor of gay marriage.” This was a flat out lie according to his political advisor at the time (David Axelrod recounted by Thomas McArdle, “Is Al Smith Dinner Still Worthwhile,” National Catholic Register, October 30, 2016).

      Now to be clear, Pope Francis does not endorse gay “marriage,” but one wonders how many of those making progress through Courage International will now be discouraged, and even whether the pope might need an offhanded ambiguity on judgment day for having abandoned them? (Not a “judgment,” here, just dialogue.)

      Mother of God, pray for us—the “laity”—who are the pope’s prayer intention for October.

    • Nobody has ever denied the humanity of persons suffering from temptations to commit homosexual acts or that people with a mental illness that makes them think they are of the opposite sex than they actually are. That does not mean that sins should be approved, winked at, celebrated, or tolerated; and it does not mean that the mentally ill should be able to force others to deny reality and pretend that a boy is a girl, or vice versa.

  17. Carl Olson depicts the matter as well as can be, honestly with acumen. Seven years show a distinct pattern of dual pronged orthodox heterodox messaging meant to reform Catholicism in accord with Pope Francis’ own vision. This dual pattern of messaging has the expected effect of loosening rather than tightening the hawsers of Apostolic doctrine, beginning with Amoris the putative new gospel to Fratelli and its global vision of cultural religious equanimity. First pronounced at Abu Dhabi. Christ indistinguishable from Mahatma Gandhi, Mohammed, Archbishop Tutu. Jesus Christ’s fiery call to Repentance gagged, references suffocated within forty three thousand words. Homosexuality has been incorporated into the faith not as a disorder requiring correction, rather as a God given blessing, practicing homosexuals beloved children of God. Abortion, the greatest sin astronomical and growing is bracketed in Fratelli Tutti as an ecological waste issue in a throwaway culture. Saving Mother Earth more vital. Synod Amazonia glosses over the native practice of parents burying their children alive. Enshrinement at the Vatican of a pagan deity a portend? Papal smiles, friendly gestures, pious outpourings will not do. It’s up to the Cardinals and bishops who have by ordination the office of defenders of the faith. Laity and the ordinary priest must have their faithful leadership. It’s time. Too many are succumbing. It’s a matter of salvation or eternal damnation.

    • As an antidote for imposed and clericalist smiley-button theology, two relevant commentaries—one from a cardinal (and emeritus pope!), and the other from (mere) layman historian:

      “…When we were speaking of traditional morality, I indicated a series of fatal ruptures: that, for example, between sexuality and procreation. Detached from the bond with fecundity, sex no longer appears to be a determined characteristic, as a radical and pristine orientation of the person. Male? Female? They are questions that for some are now viewed as obsolete, senseless, if not racist. The answer of current conformism is foreseeable [!]: ‘whether one is male or female has little interest for us, we are all simply humans [“fraternity!”]. This, in reality, has grave consequences even if at first it appears very beautiful and generous. It signifies, in fact, that sexuality is no longer rooted in anthropology; it means that sex is viewed as a simple role, interchangeable at one’s pleasure” (The Ratzinger Report, 1985, p. 95).

      “Late marriages and small families became the rule, and men satisfied their sexual instincts by homosexuality or by relations with slaves and prostitutes. This aversion to marriage and the deliberate restriction of the family by the practice of infanticide and abortion was undoubtedly the main cause of the decline of ancient Greece, as Polybius pointed out in the second century B.C. And the same factors were equally powerful in the society of the Empire. . . .” (Christopher Dawson, “The Patriarchal Family in History,” The Dynamics of World History, 1962, p. 163).

      • Dawson, an excellent historian also had insight in the vein of social anthropology. When Man turns away from exclusive love for a woman, inevitable loss of the the spiritual dimension that undergirds heterosexual attraction renders it diffuse. Yes, Francesco borrowed from a 2019 interview with a Mex journalist, although his reapproval of those remarks now indicates intent to make it a widely propagated statement to advance an agenda. An agenda that seems aimed at eventual Church approval of homosexual marriage. For example, civil homosexual marriage is virtually universal and the exclamation in Francesco seems, out of that context, redundant.

        • For clarification. My comment on Church approval of homosexual marriage doesn’t reference, at least needs be corrected regarding sacramental marriage. Pope Francis’ modus operandi does not include actual Magisterial repudiation of the Deposit of the Faith, settled Apostolic Tradition. Even the controversy on Death Penalty is inconclusive with use of the term ‘inadmissible’, which doesn’t purport that the doctrine is intrinsically evil. Pope Francis’ strategy for change of doctrine is to instead effectively change practice. Practice that contradicts doctrine, for example D&R and Adultery. In Amoris he argues that even if there is manifest adultery the penitent [D&R person] may not be living in adultery because of mitigating circumstances. This has been his pattern throughout his papacy. What is likely to occur is eventual acceptance of the German model in which the homosexual union receives a ‘blessing’ from the priest thereby providing favorable sanction sans official change of doctrine on sacramental marriage. That modus operandi is already in effect with the lax, open policy on Holy Communion in Malta, Sicily, Germany, the Philippines.

  18. All we have to do is look at those that applaud these statements.

    If James Martin is cheering my bet is that the statement is as anti-Catholic as it gets.

  19. ? China , and the many ‘excess ‘ men , as those who are ‘most in need ‘ …
    the strings of the aching Heart of The Mother , also in answer to the prayers of the beloved son, St.John Paul 11 , whose Feast day is today ..well connected to the stupendous Miracle of the Sun ..? as a promise of how The Divine Will can bring forth the ‘impossible ‘ ( we also around Feast of the Patron of Impossibilities – St.Jude )

    ? Holy Father blessing and hoping for a million and more ‘mini monastic ‘ communities , in the farthest lands , where in the secular powers may grant certain privileges , as comparable to existing ones , yet , those in such , seeing The Truth of being God’s children , called to return the Love in which they and all of creation have been created , seeing each other and others , all as ‘brothers ‘ in The Father ..
    and he , willing to wear the crown of misunderstanding and mockery , like our Lord Himself , willing to love Him with The Will with which He has loved us His children ..
    The Lord , who walks in to the lives of the demoniacs and free them from the death spirits which is what make persons to deny the dignity and identity of who they are in God ..make them desire to do so for others ..instead , set free , in the blessing Heart of The Father , that they are not hated , not seen as lepers to be out cast , that , their calling is too , to live in The Divine Will, in the loving embrace of The Mother …
    ? Holy Father desiring for compassionate laws that could include many single persons to be granted some privileges , comparable to what the militant ones have got away with ..yet ,as a blessing for ? monastic like – ‘ brother ‘ set ups ..

    ? such could eventually serve as beacons of hope and holiness for many who have chosen to live in the graveyards , not seeing any other possibility ..

    crossing the threshold of hope , to trust that holiness , as in the Holy Family is possible .. would any Father , worth his name desire any less .
    The Words of the Holy Father , in F.T . , Par 4 , also relevant and prophetic –
    ‘only the man who approaches others , not to draw them into his own life but to help them to become ever more fully themselves can be truly called a father .’

    ‘Praise You and thank You , in each thought of the creature the sound of every word …’ and so on ,
    in the ‘ Rounds ‘ of thanking God , with His Will and Love ,with and for all , instead of being caught up in the rip currents of every real or imagined negative thought and look and word of the other , to make life easily miserable ..instead to let The Sun dance of the Reign of The Divine Will ..

    Thy Kingdom come !

    • Does any of this self-worshiping happy talk involve remorse and repentance, especially for such things, as say, raping children and covering up for such things with impunity, as only a prophet in our times and their idolaters can?

  20. My kneejerk reaction has always been sympathetic to gays and civil contracts dealing with civil laws and civil perks/tax breaks and bennies available, but, only because such perks have always been grossly unfair.

    The part of them I agree with is that such benefits exist to support legitimate spouses raising legitimate natural children, and to safeguard those opposite sex spouses and progeny from poverty, most especially if the working spouse were disabled or died. And these only existed for those of sworn lifetime commitment.

    However, I as a single and celebate older male now with no more spouse or dependents, get no perks or bennies from anybody, and still in most places throughout the country and the world, were I to simply shack up with some woman and even produce children, they would be eligible for absolutely nothing.

    Meanwhile, a couple of gay guys practicing their version of what passes for normally a reproductive act reduced to only titillation, get rights and benefits unavailable to tremendous numbers of others.

    Once they took these benefits and applied them outside the normal natural purpose of protecting spouses/children, they made them a sham of gross unfairness to huge swaths of the population, and make it nearly impossible to avoid the statement that either we all get these benefits, or none of us do, unless someone thinks they are somehow “special” and more deserving than “those people”.

    All of this is all social science, secular law, and what in the world a guy who claims to be a leader of a world religion is doing weighing in on same, in areas WAAAaaaayyyy outside his own competency is simply mind numbing. I await his teaching on whom I should bet in the next World Series where I will do exactly opposite as he does.

    • As a single celibate older woman, your third paragraph resonates with me. I sometime feel, as an Roman Catholic, that the Church would have paid me more attention if I were lesbian. Oh well..Jesus never said life would be fair.

  21. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love yourself with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love yourself”

  22. In Second Corinthians, 4,5, the Holy Spirit inspires Paul to say “what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord.” My hopefully humble belief Is that Pope Francis does the opposite: he essentially proclaims himself, his personal opinions, his personal judgments, making a mockery of the Magisterium in the process.

  23. it seems that the words are “civil coexistence” and not civil “unions”….so this needs to be verified as accurate. Two, it seems the film-maker may not be the source for the quote, but an interviewer for the mexican televisa from May 2019:

    the spanish says “covivencia civil”/civil coexistence NOT unions


  24. This is what the media report the Pope said from an edited Clip Quote”“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it … What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered … I stood up for that.” END

    This is what the Pope actually said unedited QUOTE“Once I was asked a question on a flight—it made me angry afterwards, it made me angry because of how the media reported it—about the family integration of people with homosexual orientation, and I said: homosexual people have a right be a part of a family, people with homosexual orientation have a right to be in a family and the parents have the right to recognize this son as homosexual, this daughter as homosexual. Nobody should be thrown out or be miserable because of it.

    Another thing—I said—when we see some sign in children that are growing, and then you send them… I should have said to a ‘professional’, but I said ‘psychiatrist’. I wanted to say a professional, because sometimes there are signs in adolescence or pre-adolescence where they don’t know if it is a homosexual tendency or if the thymus gland atrophied with time—I don’t know, a thousand things, no? So, a professional. The headline of the newspaper: ‘The Pope sends homosexuals to the psychiatrist’. It is not true! They asked me a question and I repeated again: ‘They are sons of God, they have a right to a family, and so forth’. Another thing is… and I explained: I was wrong in using that word, but wanted to say this: ‘When you notice something str’… “Ah, it’s strange…”. No, it’s not strange. It’s something out of the ordinary. In other words, they took a small word to nullify the context. There, what I said was: ‘they have a right to a family’. And that does not mean approving homosexual acts, not in the least.”END QUOTE

    Yeh context is a merciless “female dog”. As we can see these clips are actually not original to the documentary, but are from a 2019 interview that the Pope granted to Mexican journalist Valentina Alazraki. Look for yerself and ask who should I believe? Lifesite or CNA or yer own eyes?

  25. I think everyone should read the Catholic News Agency article entitled, “Pope Francis’ homosexuality comments heavily edited in documentary, Vatican has no comment on civil unions” and stop with the hot takes in this comment section as well as elsewhere.

    When I first heard about these comments I immediately thought it was another case of Francis’s words being taken out of context, mistranslated, and/or that the media was just launching another campaign of misinformation an/or disinformation. I am glad I trusted my instincts.

  26. The continuity of Francis’ “running up the flag political flag pole” methodology tells the real tale as Carl suggests. This regularity is strategic not serendipitous. He is moving the needle by degree compromising truth and affirming modernity.

  27. From Statement on the Declarations of Pope Francis Regarding Civil Unions
    ON OCT 22, 2020

    It is a source of deepest sadness and pressing pastoral concern that the private opinions reported with so much emphasis by the press and attributed to Pope Francis do not correspond to the constant teaching of the Church, as it is expressed in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and is guarded, protected and interpreted by the Magisterium. Equally sad and concerning is the turmoil, confusion, and error they cause among the Catholic faithful, as is the scandal they cause, in general, by giving the totally false impression that the Catholic Church has had a change of course, that is, has changed its perennial teaching regarding such fundamental and critical questions.

    Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
    Rome, October 22, 2020

    • Re the statement by Burke: When the posts above clarify that the pope was talking about “civil coexistence” (covivencia civil), where has the teaching of the Church been changed? or has Burke (turmoil, error, confusion) just got his knickers in a knot because of media attention grabbing headlines. Looking at the Catholic Catechism exactly what teaching has he changed re LGBT people??? The Catholic Catechism ( St Pauls 1994 with JOSEPH CARDINAL RATZINGER’s imprimatur NO LESS!) clearly states that “They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided”. (paragraph 2358)

  28. Certainly a thought-provoking article, which raises more questions for me at the moment than it provides conclusive answers.
    For instance, why is it assumed by many critics of it that a same-sex civil union necessarily involves sodomy? – I know of same-sex civil unions wherein the individuals have made a commitment to each other – which they call a union, not marriage – for reasons of lasting friendship and mutual support – not an unreasonable or sinful choice, surely, in circumstances where same-sex attracted persons, even today, are mistreated with derision and social ostracism, if not harassment and even violence?
    Further, official Catholic teaching states: “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” (CCC, 2358). Does the widespread oppositional assumption that all same-sex civil unions involve sodomy accord with the respect the Church calls for?
    Again, I don’t see that Pope Francis, as some think he’s done, has changed the Church’s traditional understanding of marriage and its sacramental status: he distinguishes, doesn’t he, between “marriage” and “civil unions”?
    And while I agree that the theological distinction between being a creature of God and a child of God made by the author and several commentators is a necessary and valid one, is it not possible that the Holy Father prudentially thinks – in a Pauline sense, and in a world where social alienation and Catholic religious illiteracy are rife, especially among our young, that milk rather than stronger stuff is the order of the day for drawing youth to active participation in a Church that must recover, due to the abomination of clerical paedophile abuse and its cover-up, lost credibility and respect as a light for the world?
    And, while speaking of respect, some of the correspondents here would, I think, do well to recall that the truth is to be sought and done in charity. St Ignatius Loyola urged his companions while engaging in serious and contentious discussion to first look for the good in the other’s position. Surely Catholics’ called and legitimately elected Pope deserves this least courtesy and our continuing prayers?

    • Dear John, your comment is such a cop-out; that is, a preposterous special pleading.

      Do you imagine that the people who experience homosexual attraction are subject to an irresistable urge. If you do, then think what sorts of things spiritually are able to induce such urges.

      Why would you not then excuse fornicators and adulterers; or, even thieves or murders, on the same grounds of an irreseistable urge, that you suggest excuses homosexuality?

      Self control is at the heart of Christianity; as is the requirement for us to share the burden that our brothers and sisters face; that is, helping them to overcome temptations to sin; that is, if they want, helping them to extricate themselves from the snares of the father of lies and sin.

      To subvert, in any way whatever, the whole of this communal Christian enterprise is to subject oneself to the same judgment that will be brought on those who are deliberately immoral.

      At heart, that subversion is willfully blind to the spiritual struggle for souls; and, to our call by Jesus Christ Our Lord to: “Be holy”, not because God gains from us doing that, but because that is what keeps us out of the kingdom of evil.

      All of God’s commands are for our benefit; we need to start taking that seriously.

      Take care

  29. Hate the sin, love the sinner.

    However, encouraging a “civil union,” which I may point out is neither civil nor a union, is not loving nor supportive of the sinners involved. And it often ends not in hatred for sin, but an inward hatred, and a hatred for God.

    Statements like these from our Pope do so much harm, and no good can come from it. He’s just flat-out wrong.

    Pray, people, pray.

  30. No, Marty Rice, I don’t think homosexually oriented people are subject deterministically to “an irresistible urge”, and I don’t see anything in what I’ve said that suggests I do. I’d have thought my example of homosexually oriented people who live chaste lives and are committed to each other’s welfare in a union that they do not regard as marriage should have made the question you raise unnecessary. I will indeed take care to adhere to the Church’s teachings. I certainly don’t wish to entertain or condone a “cop-out”. The questions that I’ve raised here are an effort to be true to the Church’s teaching in the face of apparently conflicting magisterial messages from the Pope and two senior Cardinals – all the more pressing and critical because, as I assume you would know, Catholics are bound to follow the magisterium of the Pope and bishops in communion with him in matters of faith and morals.

  31. As a life long Catholic, I have reluctantly concluded that there is a strong homosexual lobby throughout the Church, especially at the Vatican. Witness the protection and advancement of a known homosexual predator, McCarrick, for whom the cover up goes on and on. This lobby will not be satisfied until gay marriage is accepted, a goal to which this pope is gradually moving.
    We should learn from the experiences of Protestant denominations which embrace the gay agenda. In return, their churches split, divide (some with bitterness), and their numbers rapidly dwindle – Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc. There is no infusion of devout homosexuals eager to love and support the church. The quality of the clergy plummets drastically. The truly faithful members leave.

    • I don’t believe Catholics would accept gay marriage as valid. However, the Pope and some members of the heirarchy seem to be attempting to “dumb down” the faithful with this nonsense, perhaps to prepare us all for a Godless society. It would seem that some have sold Our Lord out. But nothing is hidden that will not be revealed. St. Paul is very clear on the seriousness of the sin of homosexual practices. Romans 1.

  32. Mrscracker, you may well be correct in suggesting it’s naive to think same-sex civil unions are platonic, but the unlikelihood or impossibility of a chaste relationship between committed homosexually oriented friends remains an assumption. That’s why I think the counsel of St Ignatius Loyola is pertinent, not, as I invoke it here, a “cop-out” clause; and why I think it’s also applicable to the Holy Father’s statement – especially as it’s since been shown to have been significantly de-contextualised.

  33. Please, let’s keep this simple. The “Pope” has done nothing much different than any number of our high ranking “Catholic” politicians(Biden, Pelosi, Cuomo, et al). “What I believe personally, has no bearing on my public position.” In other words, the “Pope” has just endorsed Joe Biden and all things DNC.

  34. In Slovakia (Europe) we now see explanation: The pope Francis has not been speaking about “registered partnership” law, but rather he is speaking these words in a different context. He is speaking about children with this sexual orientation living in family, focuing on relationship between them and their parents. He tells the parents they should love him, accept him. In this context he is speaking in the film those words “Homosexuals have a right for family,…” The CNA agency has cut sentences from various interviews and presented them as one statement… pretty obvious unetical journalism.

  35. The most unpastoral pope ever, has sown nothing but division and confusion. Does he ever think before spouting, and does he have any awareness of what he says from one moment to the next? Bergoglo as the NWO “saviour of humanity” seems to have no interest in Jesus Christ. What a sad, dismal Church. with no Faith, chasing after Political Correctness and Wokeness, transforming itself into a NGO at the service of Soros’ Open Society and in full retreat before Islam. We need a new Saint Pius V.

  36. Are the Nigerian bishops the only National conference of Bishops anywhere in the world to respond (even if opaquely) to Pope Francis’ endorsement of ‘Civil Unions’? At the end of their recent meeting they released a lengthy statement rejecting the Homosexual lifestyle – and the concept of civil unions.
    Part of the statement read: “Accepting this western trend by officially endorsing homosexual unions or ‘same-sex marriage’ will be devastating and detrimental to our nation, Nigeria, as it will lead to the inevitable deconstruction of the family and the society at large with other serious but negative implications.”
    Pope Benedict believed that it would be the Christian communities in Africa and the Americas where the faith was vibrant that would provide the leadership in the Church in the years ahead.
    We must thank the Conference for this leadership. Following the very recent disclosures by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano of the filthy swamp inside the Vatican – even at the highest level – maybe the Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria might lead the way again – and be the first in voicing their concerns at the apparent toleration by Pope Francis of this filth that is disfiguring the Church of Christ.

  37. Fr. William Jenkins of the SSPV has Francis pegged like no one else I’ve yet heard. Search the What Catholics Believe channel on Youtube. Search term: Francis

    Warning: Fr. Jenkins minces no words.

    • The SSPV are Sedevacantists. They are Schismatics outside the Church. It would be better to remain in Communion with a deeply flawed Pope who is doing a bad job than to leave the Church because of scandal, and endanger our souls in the process.

  38. Funny that – “catholics” saying what you say are actually doing the work of the devil. Francis, as one of the great reforming Popes, is taking us all back to the teachings of Jesus in the Gospel – that he is on the right track preaching about Mercy can be calibrated by the amount of opposition he is receiving on right wing catholic web sites – and the number of irrational nutters blogging on them.

      • Your remarks indicate your childish lack of sincerity and your prejudice against the Pope who is certainly making people think outside the walls of sclerotic mind-sets= QED You quote 1 John 3:9-10 … and does not love his brother. i.e. the Pope? and you obviously get some satisfaction from racist and hateful posts????

        • Again, yawn. This is the equivalent of asking: “Have you stopped beating your spouse?” Both my praise and criticism of Pope Francis are on the public record. Unlike some, I don’t rely on name-calling and emotive tirades to make my points.

          • Well very condescending – I was going to add arrogant in your editorship – but will be content to say that I was thinking of some of the posts you have invited. However, it would be better to get a neutral person to analyse your article which looks like it might be an evenhanded examination of exactly what has been exaggerated and distorted by sensationalist media outlets in terms of what the Pope has been alleged to have said…

          • A tad sensitive are we? Looking at the title of your article – “Deeply Flawed Opportunism…” tendentious and prejudiced??? and noting your protestations that you are on record as being even handed and yet claim to be “loyal” – what a laugh!
            We know your type – you won’t have the courage to leave this post up.

  39. Thank you, Mr. Olson for this wonderful article! I am currently a Senior in high school, and I’m graduating next month and entering college. I have been around many people who are homosexual in school, and some of them are my friends. I’ve never agreed with homosexuality and I am so grateful for your writing of this article. Because it gives me evidence to back up my conservative views, disregarding and disapproving homosexuality. Is there any advice you can give me for standing my ground as a Catholic on anti-LGBTQ values?

  40. I am amazed that after reading this laborious article that Pope Francis hasn’t been burned at the stake! The arduous effort True, his attempt to accept homosexuals as within Gods family of creation may be in conflict with church teaching. My dilemma is WHY would anyone disparage any loved person? And, WHY does this piece lean or jump to the conclusion that Gays “struggle” to choose their lifestyle? Now that promotes a further explanation. It bewilders me that a person would choose the Gay lifestyle when they are unable to exit from the Catholic closet since they would be for ever plagued by social disdain?

    Excerpt: “Struggling with same-sex attraction”? Needless to say, gay is always presented as normal, great, and requiring even more—if possible—affirmation.”

    I continue to anguish with “love your neighbor.

    • Funny, you haven’t been overly concerned about loving your neighbor when the issue is anything related to Trump. You seem to forget all biblical teaching when that topic comes up. You may want to read Romans chapter 1.

    • “Two months seems like a long time”? Not really, not when compared to the past seven years. But, who am I to judge?

  41. Well, Carl you did leave the critical posts up so credit is due in the context of free speech (without really offending anyone). The central concern with us is the critical disloyalty (and worse) of the US conservative web sites and writers and posters to the validly elected sovereign pontiff which is a scandal to us and the other believers around the world.

  42. Four months seems like a really, really long time for this article to remain on the front page of Catholic World Report. What is the point?

  43. In Australia, as people became increasingly non-religious, Church weddings began to decline. At the same time, couples began living together in what was termed De-facto relationships. These couples received the same legal and civil protections as married people did. Gradually, same-sex couples who, were as much citizens as the other couples, were given the same protections and privileges. Nobody here objected to that. I believe this is what the Pope suggested for Argentina in his fight to save marriage as a man and woman relationship.

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