Pope Francis’ in-flight press conference: God accompanies people with same-sex attraction


Pope Francis speaks to the media on Feb. 5, 2023, during his return flight to Rome from his visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Feb 5, 2023 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

On his return flight from South Sudan on Sunday, Pope Francis said that God loves and accompanies people with same-sex attraction.

When asked by a journalist what the pope would say to families in Congo and South Sudan who reject their children because they are gay, Pope Francis responded that the catechism teaches that people with same-sex attraction should not be marginalized.

“People with homosexual tendencies are children of God. God loves them. God accompanies them,” the pope said during an in-flight press conference on his return from Juba on Feb. 5.

“To condemn someone like this is a sin. Criminalizing people with homosexual tendencies is an injustice,” he added.

In a first for a papal trip, Pope Francis was joined for the in-flight press conference by two other Christian leaders: his Anglican counterpart, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and the moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields, who also took part in the “ecumenical pilgrimage of peace” in South Sudan Feb. 3-5.

Together the three Christian leaders answered questions and spoke about South Sudan’s peace process, the war in Ukraine, and mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Welby said that he “wholeheartedly agreed” with what Pope Francis said about the Congo that it is “not the playground of great powers.”

Greenshields added that in South Sudan’s peace process “actions speak louder than words.”

Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, speaks to reporters aboard the papal flight to Rome on Feb. 5, 2023, as Iain Greenshields, moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, looks on. The two religious leaders accompanied Pope Francis on his visit to South Sudan. Vatican Media
Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, speaks to reporters aboard the papal flight to Rome on Feb. 5, 2023, as Iain Greenshields, moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, looks on. The two religious leaders accompanied Pope Francis on his visit to South Sudan. Vatican Media

Pope Francis alone answered a question about tensions in the Catholic Church after the death of his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

“I think Benedict’s death was instrumentalized by people who want to serve their own interests,” Francis said.

People who instrumentalize such a good and holy person, Francis added, are partisans and unethical.

Looking ahead at potential upcoming papal trips, Pope Francis said that he wants to go to India next year.

The 86-year-old pope confirmed that he also plans to travel to Marseille, France, in September to participate in a meeting of Mediterranean bishops and added that “there is a possibility from Marseille to fly to Mongolia.”

In his response to the question about the acceptance of people with same-sex attractions, Pope Francis noted that he has spoken on the topic multiple times during in-flight press conferences.

The pope reiterated what he said on his return flight from Brazil in 2013: “If a person with homosexual tendencies is a believer, seeks God, who am I to judge him? This is what I said on that trip.”

He added that during an in-flight press conference returning from Ireland in 2018 he said that parents should not kick out children with this orientation out of their homes.

Pope Francis noted that he recently spoke about the criminalization of homosexuality in an interview with the Associated Press and emphasized again that it is unjust.

“I want to say, I wish I had spoken as elegantly and clearly as the pope. I entirely agree with every word he said there,” Welby said.

“Over the next four days in the General Synod of the Church of England, this is our main topic of discussion, and I shall certainly quote the Holy Father,” he added.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, people with homosexual tendencies should be treated with respect, and unjust discrimination against them should be avoided, while “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” and “under no circumstances can they be approved.”

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  1. Having addressed this specific report earlier at, “Pope Francis: Partisans have used Benedict XVI’s death ‘to serve their own interests’”, this comment addresses Pope Francis’ 2013 in flight comment repeated by him here that, “If a person with homosexual tendencies is a believer, seeks God, who am I to judge him? This is what I said on that trip”.
    Accompaniment by priest, or God of the struggling homosexual is a good thing. Conditionally. That is if the priest emulates God, revealed to us in Christ drawing the penitent away from actions that Francis admits are gravely sinful and under no circumstances permissible.
    It’s clear then that same sex attraction, homosexual tendencies are not [always] sinful. Nonetheless, it’s also true that homosexual tendency and acts can be voluntary, a willful perversion. That is why the Church must resist this administration’s intent to cultivate in our youth a homosexual oriented mentality. Bad sexual behavior can be learned and adopted especially by the young and vulnerable, addressed here by Susan Ciancio “The sexualization of children”. We’re not hearing much if anything from the Vatican on this far reaching moral dilemma. That said, the statement “Who am I to judge” has a context to which we have to make a prudent judgment.
    Assignments to the Casa Marta, Synod on Synodality, Vatican communications of an active homosexual, advocates for normalizing homosexuality. Both the Synod on Synodality with Card Hollerich SJ relator, the Pontifical Academy for Life Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia president are assigned homosexual advocates [John Finnis recently assigned, member Card Willem Eijk both doctrinally orthodox to the Pontifical Academy may be simply window dressing when the entire direction of the Church is considered]. Add the Card Coccopalmerio Vatican residence homosexual scandal, Francis’ reinstatement of defrocked child rapist Fr Inzoli speak a different story to the Pope’s explanation of Who am I to judge.
    Some of us want to love this pope are taken by his compassionate overtures. The visible moral sea change transforming the Church into an accommodation of the gravely sinful, of perverse behavior makes that a split of sorrowful compassion salted by strong rejection.

  2. Never emphasizes the justice part of that same coin and only drudgingly and barely reiterates the Catechism.

    How many active homosexuals have you brought back to Christ, Pope Francis?

  3. God’s accompaniment is never for the legalization of anyone’s sins. Calling on God’s Holy Name for such things breaks all the Commandments starting with the 2nd; but as Pope, the 1st!

    You can not uphold anyone’s dignity by “legalizing homosexual civil union”. It is the opposite, by doing such a thing you degrade and demean everyone altogether and offend God gravely.

  4. “The pope reiterated what he said on his return flight from Brazil in 2013: “If a person with homosexual tendencies is a believer, seeks God, who am I to judge him? This is what I said on that trip.”

    “EWTN is SATAN!” my priest screamed in his homily. My Priest was really going off on how EWTN was ‘Satan’, for their comments on Pope Francis’, “Who Am I To Judge”. So I started a page, with a poll, to discuss just who Pope Francis, can’t or can, judge. I invited my Priest to the page to help us discuss.

    Priest Judges EWTN as Satan for Their Comments on Pope Francis’ “Who Am I To Judge”
    https://www.religiousforums.com/threads/catholics-only-priest-judges-ewtn-as-satan-for-their-co mments-on-pope-francis%E2%80%99-%E2%80%9Cwho-am-i-to-judge%E2%80%9D.250177/

    I do not hear the enormous, horrible, Catholic issue of child molester priests being discussed in Pope Francis’ “Synod on Synodality”. Is Pope Francis and his Vatican Gay Lobby trying to slide in the decriminalization of man-boy-lover Priests molesting children, when he says ‘Who am I to Judge’? Yes, respect the human dignity of man-boy-lovers, but please Pope Francis make sure the world knows child molesting is a grave sin and heinous crime!

    P.S. We have a new Awesome Priest now.

  5. Well, the theological arguments are needed to understand the elements that make for the gravity of the dilemma. Although, the cat is now out of the gunnysack [an ordinary bag is too small for this cat]. What with His Holiness allegedly telling Spanish clergy no need to hold back absolution if the penitent refuses to repent, otherwise openly broadcasting that no one should be denied the Eucharist, that the only requisite is the garment of faith. Will Martin Luther be next up for canonization?

  6. Would it be better for Papa to interpret scripture rather that presenting his own point of view? If we care for the eternal soul of one who is misguided, we are obliged to speak the truth in love. We all have our besetting sins, yet God finds the sin of homosexuality egregious.

    Romans 1:26-27 For this reason God gave them up to dishonourable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; And the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

    Unfounded response to ungodly behaviour helps no one.

  7. We read: “The pope reiterated what he said on his return flight from Brazil in 2013: “If a person with homosexual tendencies is a believer, seeks God, who am I to judge him? This is what I said on that trip.”

    Indeed, the pope simply repeats the original ambiguity–the off-the-cuff remark about a particular “him,” conflated with silence on universal moral truth; the failure to distinguish between accompaniment and accommodation.

    Nine years of non-dialogue. With no apologies for another repetition, this again from Veritatis Splendor:

    “A separation, or even an opposition [!], is thus established in some cases between the teaching of the precept, which is valid and general, and the norm of the individual conscience, which would in fact make the final decision [no longer a ‘moral judgment’!] about what is good and what is evil. On this basis, an attempt is made to legitimize so-called ‘pastoral’ solutions [!] contrary to the teaching of the Magisterium, and to justify a ‘creative’ hermeneutic according to which the moral conscience is in no way obliged, in every case, by a particular negative precept [thou shalt not!]” (Veritatis Splendor, n. 56).

  8. Who in the media is asking the Pope questions about the many Christians being persecuted and killed in Nigeria? Why does every press engagement devolve to the same topic?

    • I hate the way the press constantly distorts the Holy Father’s views. If they would ask him the right questions on the right topics his brilliance, orthodoxy and sanctity would shine forth. He has, for example, been very clear in condemning Islamic violence against Christians in Nigeria when given the opportunity. Or he has at least condemned some kind of violence against someone or something. Anyway, it’s all the media’s fault!

      • First, this pontificate is almost a decade in. If you are correct (and I don’t think you are), one would have to question the Pope’s/Vatican’s choice of media outlets. But, really, isn’t ten years enough time to find a way to consistently express matters with clarity and cohesion?

        Secondly, a truly brilliant man would be able to take even distorted or leading questions and respond (again) with clarity and cohesion. So…there’s that.

      • This comment is intended to be sarcastic, right? Brilliance, orthodoxy, and sanctity are not qualities people associate with Francis, not even on his best days, which are sadly quite rare.

        • Perhaps I should give up sarcasm for Lent. No, my comment was not intended to be taken literally. Like someone else I can think of, I have been guilty of spreading confusion.

  9. Like the word “inclusion,” the term “accompanies” should be dropped from the vocabulary of those who take their relationship with Christ seriously. God does not accompany us anywhere. He convicts us of sin and calls us to repent and believe. It’s that simple, and it’s perfectly clear. “Accompanying” people is leftist code for accommodating sin, a response that clearly violates biblical teaching and the catechism.

    • There’s nothing wrong, per se, with the word “accompanies”. The problem (or part of the problem) is that it is a such neutral word. Far, far better are the exact, clear words found in the first paragraph of the CCC:

      1 God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.

      Created…draws close….calls…sent his Son….invites. These are words that demand our response, just as Christ’s words—”Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand”—demand a response. But the language of faux synodality is banal, neutral, and far too conversational. It certainly isn’t biblical.

      • Good points, and a neutral word can be bent in all kinds of directions to suit people’s agendas. I’m thankful that God speaks clearly and directly to us. He doesn’t mince words, but He always tells us the truth.

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