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‘Being homosexual is not a crime…but it’s a sin,” Pope Francis reiterates in new interview

Pope Francis speaking at the general audience at the Vatican, Dec. 21, 2022. / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Jan 25, 2023 / 08:10 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has reiterated that homosexuality is “not a crime” in a new interview published Wednesday.

The interview with the Associated Press covered a wide range of topics, including laws that criminalize homosexuality and sodomy.

“Being homosexual is not a crime. It’s not a crime. Yes, but it’s a sin. Fine, but first let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime,” the pope told the AP.

The remark promises to be a point of controversy. On the one hand, the Catholic Church has long condemned any forms of unjust discrimination of those with same-sex attraction, including laws in dozens of countries that criminalize homosexuality and sodomy. On the other hand, the Church does not teach that same-sex attraction is sinful in itself but that it is “intrinsically disordered.”

In the interview conducted at Pope Francis’ residence in Vatican City on Jan. 24, the pope reiterated the Holy See’s position that laws that criminalize homosexuality outright are “unjust” and that the Church must work to put an end to them.

Under Benedict XVI, the Vatican issued a statement in 2008 urging that “every sign of unjust discrimination toward homosexual persons should be avoided” and that countries should “do away with criminal penalties against them.”

“We are all children of God, and God loves us as we are and for the strength that each of us fights for our dignity,” Pope Francis said.

The pope told AP that bishops who support laws that criminalize homosexuality “have to have a process of conversion” and should apply “tenderness, please, as God has for each one of us.”

Francis attributed such attitudes to cultural backgrounds and said bishops in particular need to undergo a process of change to recognize the dignity of everyone.

“Every man and every woman must have a window in their lives where they can pour out their hope and where they can see the dignity of God. And being homosexual is not a crime. It is a human condition,” he said.

In the interview, which lasted more than one hour, Pope Francis also decried the German Synodal Way as unhelpful, revealed that the intestinal problem that he had surgery for in 2021 has returned, and denied that he had any role in the handling of the alleged abuse by Jesuit Father Marko Rupnik.

The AP first published the pope’s comments about distinguishing between a crime and a sin with regard to homosexuality before publishing the full transcript of the interview in Spanish.

The Catholic Church does not teach that homosexuality, that is having same-sex attraction, is a sin.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” and “under no circumstances can they be approved.”

“The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided,” it says.

“These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”

In 2021 the Vatican’s doctrinal office issued a clarification approved by Pope Francis that the Church cannot bless same-sex unions because “God cannot bless sin.”

The Vatican also stated at the time that “the Christian community and its Pastors are called to welcome with respect and sensitivity persons with homosexual inclinations and will know how to find the most appropriate ways, consistent with Church teaching, to proclaim to them the Gospel in its fullness.”

In his response to the question about laws that criminalize homosexuality, Pope Francis also described the ending of the pop opera “The Prodigal Son” as an example of how “God is generous in his mercy.”

“If we preached more about that and not about nonsense, we would be better off,” the pope said.

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  1. Pope Francis attributes anti-LGBTQ attitudes to cultural backgrounds, and says bishops in particular need to undergo a process of change to recognize the dignity of everyone. Change?! God’s attitude does not change when He calls the LGBTQ life an “abomination” (Lev 18:22). LGBTQ sin and crime should be unrelated in today’s world; but giving it a dignity when God calls it an abomination!? Compromising thousands of years of God-given moral values is not on the side of God, but of men.

    • I think its a shame that the pope is so soft on homosexuality.

      I used to and to some etent still do, love the catholic church and it’s church fathers immensely but this is very disheartening the church shouldn’t be changing with the times but staying firmly on the truth. I love all the ancient churches and I fear that this is a bad precedent that we might not get out of and it’s got me leaning towards eastern orthodoxy (no offence intended).

      Homosexuality is unnatural, disgusting and immoral and should not be encouraged or taken lightly.

      It is a psychological aberration and people with an inclination to it should be enhoined to chastity not.

      I hope that I’m misunderstanding something or that popes words are being taken out of context by the media and magnifying what he said unjustly but if not I have to admit I’m very dissapointed.

  2. Between yesterday and today Pope Francis rushed to intervene on the homosexualism questions, because, it appears to me, it matters to him that these should coincide with today’s Gospel, “This is fulfilled in your hearing.”

    The positive “Homosexuality is not a crime”, is misleading. Homosexuality is an inherent evil like abortion and when acted upon it is crime. It is one of those evils that by nature can not be separated from moral content.

    Something further is happening. The Pope is not a day philosopher, he is a shepherd of souls and of shepherds. It is not his role to parse moral content for positivism. Were he to do it can form ecclesial sin and ecclesiastic crime.

    I am not trying to prosecute Pope Francis but what he says and does would fall short of integrated faith. Simultaneously he adds a cameo of Benedict XVI, his “dad” whom he “lost”; and stresses how joy is the hallmark of faith.

  3. No, it is not a crime. Neither is it something to be emulated. I have known some gay men and they have been perfectly nice. However from a religious point of view this is a disorder. When the Pope continues to soft pedal this stuff he creates confusion and sends peoples beliefs down the wrong road. I am sure that many an adulterer is also “nice”. Some people behave as prostitutes. Maybe they just need the money. Yet even that does not make it ok. Jesus did not repeal the 10 Commandments, several of which deal with sex. His word to the woman taken in adultery was go and sin no more. It was NOT ” it’s ok”. Ditto people who find their kicks in other sexual manners. The answer is no. Period.

  4. God cannot bless sin…

    But He can also recognize (as per the face-value meaning of Amoris Laetitia and the Argentine Bishops’ Letter) that I might not be able to abstain from sin without falling into a greater sin? The human condition is what it is, but if straight couples in irregular unions can live more uxorio (because they are not subjectively culpable, as a step along the path to greater holiness, because there are positive aspects to their relationship, etc.) why can’t gay couples? One way or another, justice demands that the same standard be applied to both.

    Pope Francis is correct that homosexual acts are a sin, not a crime. Why does he insist on appointing and surrounding himself with people who believe they are neither? The only reason I can imagine for why he seems to want an escape clause for straight couples but not for gay couples is that he emotes more than he thinks, and he has an easier time emotionally identifying with straight couples than gay couples. Emotion and charity (let alone truth in charity) are not the same thing.

  5. Correction to Bergoglio: if you said “homosexuality is a sin” you are wrong. Homosexual acts are sins. But being burdened with a perverse and unnatural inclination toward one’s sex is NOT a sin. Acting on those inclinations IS a sin. Bergoglio needs to consult a good moral theologian. I think Cardinal Mueller is available.

    • It’s very confusing. Being attracted to others of the same sex is only a sin if acted upon. Or I suppose if dwelt upon unnecessarily.
      It’s hard to know what the Pope was thinking. Maybe the translation was faulty?
      What prompted the conversation in the first place?
      There’s an old saying “Least said, soonest mended “…

        • Exactly right. There is no such thing as a natural inclination for homosexuality. It is learned behavior arrived at through some level of moral compromise, although in some cases culpability might be minimal due to tragic abuse. Like the state of alcoholism is arrived at through episodes of willful glottony. Francis is not a man of wisdom, so we need not scratch our heads trying to sort through the confusion every time he embarrasses the Church that embarrasses him.
          Statutory law often exists even with the understanding that it can not be enforced to protect society and to express meaningful values.

    • Separation between a homosexual orientation and homosexual acts is very important. Those with a homosexual attraction that are living a chaste life are not committing sin. This is often overlooked. This is because the LBGT movement, that dominates the news, is only infested in those
      living an active homosexual life.

  6. Pope Francis seems to be discriminating against sinners and criminals. By going so far out of his way to state that same sex attraction is not a sin or a crime and thus they deserve dignity and respect, gives the feeling that, if it were a sin and a crime, then they would not deserve dignity and respect. Does Pope Francis not believe that even the worst criminals and sinners deserve human respect and dignity as well?

  7. I try to cut His Holiness some slack and make allowances for translation problems, but his statements in this instance seem confusing. Saying that homosexuality is not a crime but a sin is more than a little vague.

    Being homosexual is no more sinful than being murderous or greedy or anything else. The belief that a sinful tendency or inclination is in and of itself sinful instead of a cross or trial to be borne is a modernist belief that shifts right and wrong from reason to faith, changing the basis of natural law where reason guided and illuminated by faith, not faith alone, is preeminent.

    Whether someone is homosexual, greedy, murderous, or anything else, is a matter of subjective opinion or personal faith and cannot be sinful. Committing homosexual acts, theft, murder, or anything else is a matter of objective fact, determined by empirical evidence and logical consistency — reason — and may be sinful under the usual conditions. In human terms, we cannot judge anyone a sinner because of our opinion of them, only by their proven acts.

    That is why in both civil and canon law the principle is that someone is innocent until proven guilty. To condemn someone without proof (real proof, not opinion, even popular opinion) is calumny, a mortal sin, and one “that cries to Heaven for vengeance” and for which reparation must be made.

    As for homosexuality (or, probably more accurately, homosexual acts) not being a crime, that depends on a particular code of laws. If the law says it is a crime, it is a crime . . . just as robbing a bank, praying outside an abortion clinic, or helping a runaway slave are or have been crimes. A law that declares something a crime need not be just or moral, it need only be a law. Human positive law should be just and moral, but that doesn’t mean it is.

  8. How much longer, Lord, on a papacy who ‘wants to mess things up’?

    Where has Francis’s battle cry improved the Church in the last decade?

    • Brother I am with you. Every day I am calling to Jesus for help for the faithful so that we may not be put to the test of being forced to accept the Woke Agenda; To the Holy Spirit for patience; To the Saints for wisdom for the Church and to Our Lady of Sorrows for help to me bear this sense of doom. And thank God for this Magazine where I can express my fears and know that I am not alone in just trying to be a good Christian man. And thank you Pope Francis for braving these storms.

  9. God loves us as we are is the premier loaded comment. Yes, let us be tender rather than criminalize, let us lovingly abet disorded sexual morality. Our issue, acknowledging sin and acknowledging the liceity to sin.
    Recently reported in multiple sources the UK Catholic Herald, here the Daily Compass 1.9.2023, “if we see that there is no intention to repent, we must forgive all. We can never deny absolution, because we become a vehicle for an evil, unjust, and moralistic judgment” (Francis allegedly to Barcelona Spain seminarians Dec 10).
    His Holiness believes compassion has no limits and eclipses judgment and repentance, the two standards a priest must employ in the confessional. Earlier I said ‘it’s clear this pontificate intends to reform the Church from a doctrinal to an all embracing pastoral body’. Perhaps saying it’s clear is not justified, that indications are is better. Although at this rate, with a plethora of like remarks, the Synod on Synodality and homosexual advocate Card Hollerich’s appointment as relator, must the judgment it’s clear be withheld until it becomes fact?
    As quoted by CNA’s Courtney Mares the Catechism instructs that our mission, inclusive of the sacraments, is to assist those who have homosexual inclinations, attraction to transform their lives to the Christian image. Vatican policy is moving in a different, paradigmatic, one may correctly say opposite direction. We in order to remain faithful must acknowledge this and call it out. Yes, with due propriety.

  10. I wonder if James Martin left his two audiences with Francis convinced and convicted that homosexuality is a sin. I don’t remember it unfolding in quite that way. Francis doublespeak, true to form.

  11. Now I’m confused. Homosexuality is a sin? Those, including bishops, who resist the LGBetc. lobby do so out of their backward, unenlightened cultures?
    Lord, help us.

  12. Sins are crimes against God, against the Gospel Word of God, and against God’s people. Homosexual acts are horrendous sins against nature. The word ‘sod’ (dirt) derives or is associated with ‘sodomy.’ Neither are clean and one only is natural.

    Justice demands that man worship God. The First Commandment comes first. Man justly owes allegiance first to God. As the supreme lawgiver and enforcer, God will in due course apply justice no matter what linguistic distinctions man applies to acts of injustice. Man may call sins by whatever names he chooses, but it prudently behooves man to seek God’s Word when man reasons about his own. Francis surely understands.

    Scripture describes a homosexual act as a sin which cries, from the ground, for God’s vengeance.

    Sins are crimes against God, against the Gospel Word of God, and against God’s people. Homosexual acts are horrendous sins against nature. The word ‘sod’ (dirt) derives or is associated with ‘sodomy.’ God destroyed Sodom once and surely may do so again.

  13. Was not disappointed to find one or two commenters planting their flag on the side of people who like to stone gays to death, in order to prevent ‘moral confusion’ among the faithful.

    • Dear Joe:

      We are not to stone anyone. It has been stated that Jesus died for our sins, whatever those may be! Repentance starts the process. We are saying to God, Lord you are right and we seek your forgiveness. It is not hard to do. All men can ask for forgiveness. God not only saves us, He changes us, conforming us into His image. If a man wants salvation thru confession and forgiveness, all he needs to do is ask.

      The other side of the coin is that a man is wedded to his sin and wants nothing to do with God. God offers the hand of friendship and it is up to the individual to accept it or reject it.

      1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

      Psalm 32:5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

      Proverbs 28:13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

      Jeremiah 33:8 I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me.

      God bless you,


  14. Sex between a man and a woman in a marriage is the only licit sex allowed by the Roman Catholic Church. If you have any questions, please re-read that statement.

  15. The very word “crime” used to be associated with (mortal) sin. Of course, that was when civil law reflected Christendom. As the State moves further from God (objective truth and natural law), its legal codes become increasingly chaotically liberating with respect to human behavior. However, then reason in light of Faith must be concurrently suppressed and those who challenge unbridled conscience must be even oppressed. Thus we have such inane prosecutions as against Mark Houck and persons in the UK arrested for mental prayer.

  16. “It is a human condition.”

    It is NOT a human condition. It is a condition of a fallen-ness in humanity that is at the same time perverse. It’s presence is for UNDOING. You furthermore never address dignity in any person, or society, by saying “homosexuality is not a crime”.

    In addition, propagating homosexuality is a crime, subversion of society; and defending it is a subversion of law. It is antithetical for the Pope to be doing such things and having the faithful vilified “neo-Pelagian” for it “in the name of the Church”.

    Or “Jansenist”. The idea being professed is that truth may not be spoken or held to firmly at any time. It is patently false, the problem is that the error is being imposed and inverting the sequence and consequences multiplies corruption.

    The Church separates herself from such things and she knows very well that truth itself is its own message in mercy and mercifulness. It names homosexuality for what it is and calls man out of any and all degradation and taint without exception.

  17. This pope displays a little too much interest in the alphabet people for my personal comfort. One would think the vicar of Christ would have a slightly different itinerary but I’d like to set him down in the middle of the Castro District, in San Fransicko, during a Pride festival, and hear just what he has to say, upon exiting.

    Between his stance on the WEF, the CCP, bunko vaccines, Latin Mass, and the gay lobby, I honestly have no interest in what he thinks, says, or does, at this point. I pray for protection from his intentions.

  18. Up until the late 60’s sodomy was against the law in all states. That was changed and since then it has taken over society. If you follow the Popes train of thought, we should not have laws against pedophilia. It is a sin, but some people have a proclivity to it so maybe there should not be a law against it. Seriously? Shouldn’t laws reflect the commandments?

  19. A two minded approach pleases no one.

    James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

    1 Timothy 3:2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

    2 Timothy 1:7 For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

    Romans 8:6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

    James 1:8 He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

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