home
RSS
July 29th, 2013
12:21 PM ET

Pope on gays: A shift in tone, not substance

By John L. Allen Jr., CNN

(CNN) - Reaction to Pope Francis’ comments about not judging gays has broken along two lines: Either this is a groundbreaking reversal by the head of the Catholic Church, or it’s basically just a guy talking on a plane.

The truth is, it’s neither. What it really amounts to is a significant shift in tone, though not in substance.

Francis made the remark in the course of a free-wheeling, unscripted press conference at the end of his July 22-28 trip to Brazil for the Church’s “World Youth Day.”

Among a wide variety of other points, he was asked about a so-called “gay lobby” in the Vatican.

“When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby,” he said in reply. “If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized.”

Officially speaking, that’s nothing new.

It’s always been on the books in the Catholic Church that homosexual persons are to be treated with love. The Catechism, the official collection of Catholic doctrine, states that gays should always receive “'respect, compassion and sensitivity.”

The church’s problem is with behavior, not persons.

READ MORE: Pope Francis on gays: `Who am I to judge?'

It’s true that in 2005 the Vatican issued a document saying that men with a predominantly same-sex attraction should not be admitted to seminaries, and therefore should not be ordained priests. However, that policy has been unevenly applied, and in any event it refers to eligibility for the priesthood, not to human dignity.

In terms of perception, however, many gays and lesbians would probably say they don’t always hear a message of respect and compassion from Catholic leaders. Instead, what they often seem to hear is precisely judgment. At that level, Francis is setting a new tone, one of acceptance and welcome, without reversing any doctrinal positions.

There is no indication, for instance, that Francis intends to upend the Church’s opposition to gay marriage. He confirmed the Catholic understanding of marriage as a union between a man and a woman in a recent encyclical letter, the most important form of papal teaching.

The same point – new tone, same teaching – applies to his comments on the plane about women and abortion as well.

He confirmed the ban on women priests, and on the abortion question he said that the teaching of the Church is well known, but that he wants to offer a positive message.

That insight may help explain why, during the first 120 days of his papacy, Francis never actually used the words “abortion” or “gay marriage.”

It’s not that he lacks pro-life convictions; in Brazil, he spontaneously invited two parents who refused to abort a child with a severe brain deformity to join him at a Mass, as a way of congratulating them for their choice.

However, Francis also understands that the Church’s positions on sexual morality are probably the best-known and most-discussed aspect of its teaching, while he wants to lift up other matters – the defense of the poor, outreach to the marginalized and forgotten, and building a “culture of encounter” against what he described in Brazil as a “throw-away” society.

That’s the Francis effect – he’s not changing doctrine, he’s changing perceptions. For a Church that sometimes struggles with an image problem, that alone may count as a revolution.

John L. Allen Jr. is senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and senior Vatican analyst for CNN.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Pope Francis

soundoff (229 Responses)
  1. smith

    Be a member of Illuminati today and become rich and famous, this is just brief summary to apply now and join thousands of satisfied citizens contact us at illuminatipowerworldwide@gmail.com or call ...+2348165028579

    October 30, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
  2. 7

    Hello. Everyone is invited to visit... thetreasureofzion.com

    August 21, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
  3. GHDDFGF78675

    MENTAL TORTURE IF YOU WERE IN A MICROWAVE.
    12 HRS A DAY WITH A BETA ALFA GAMMA FRECUENCY YOU CAN HERE DE OSCILATION.
    WHY WE USE THIS PSIQUIATRIC METHOD TO DENOUNCE, CNN?.

    OFFER BRAIN IN SALE.

    WHY WE HAVE BRAIN IN SALE IN SUPER MARKET.

    HAS A LAND TO WROW HUMANS.

    MILLIONS OF BRAINS IN SUPER MARKETS.

    HOW TO FASTES GROW, IDEA!!!!!!!!!!!.

    WITH NANO TECNOLOGY.

    HOW MANY TIME IN LESS THAN 1 MONTH.

    DO YOU WANTO TO EAT IT.

    WHAT DO YOU HAVE IN YOUR BRAIN?.

    http://www.mudpgi.blog.com

    INVENTION WITH NANO COPUTER IN LESS THAN 1 MONTH.

    WE WRITE IN THE CNN PAGE AND OTHER HUMAN RACE CASE ARE DOING DENOUNCES?.

    WHY DOES EXIST THIS VIOLATIONS.

    SATELITAL SURVILLANCE MENTAL TORTURE ELECTRONIC HARASSMENT.
    ORGS HUMAN RACE STUDIES AND AGENCYES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!MONSANTO!!!!!!! –– ARE TRYNG TO DAMAGE DNA OF THE VICTMS, IRRADIATING TO PRODUCE CANCER ALZEIMER.
    SATELITAL ASESSINATIOSN IN VENEZUELA, HUMAN SELL NANO TRANSMISOR SELL MILLIONS OF CALCULUS PER SECOND.

    August 19, 2013 at 11:50 am |
  4. GHDF78675

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_ETt8uJSgU&w=420&h=315]

    August 19, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  5. GHDF78675

    WHY WE USE THIS PSIQUIATRIC METHOD TO DENOUNCE, CNN?.

    OFFER BRAIN IN SALE.

    WHY WE HAVE BRAIN IN SALE IN SUPER MARKET.

    HAS A LAND TO WROW HUMANS.

    MILLIONS OF BRAINS IN SUPER MARKETS.

    HOW TO FASTES GROW, IDEA!!!!!!!!!!!.

    WITH NANO TECNOLOGY.

    HOW MANY TIME IN LESS THAN 1 MONTH.

    DO YOU WANTO TO EAT IT.

    WHAT DO YOU HAVE IN YOUR BRAIN?.

    http://www.mudpgi.blog.com

    INVENTION WITH NANO COPUTER IN LESS THAN 1 MONTH.

    WE WRITE IN THE CNN PAGE AND OTHER HUMAN RACE CASE ARE DOING DENOUNCES?.

    WHY DOES EXIST THIS VIOLATIONS.

    SATELITAL SURVILLANCE MENTAL TORTURE ELECTRONIC HARASSMENT.
    ORGS HUMAN RACE STUDIES AND AGENCYES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!MONSANTO!!!!!!! –– ARE TRYNG TO DAMAGE DNA OF THE VICTMS, IRRADIATING TO PRODUCE CANCER ALZEIMER.
    SATELITAL ASESSINATIOSN IN VENEZUELA, HUMAN SELL NANO TRANSMISOR SELL MILLIONS OF CALCULUS PER SECOND.

    August 19, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  6. sdfasdfasdfsdfgsdfgsdfgfghdfgh

    RSDFSFGHSFGHSGHSDFGSDFGSDDFSDFsdfgsdfgGSDFGsdfgsdfgsdfg

    dfghdfghdfgh

    sell of neurals patron, to evolutionate north american, runing

    RED OPERATION BY THE VATICAN AND FRANCISCO THE NAZI ARGENTINE POPE AGENCIES TO ARGENTINA NAZIS AN
    KFC CRISTINA FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER, CORP SELLING NANOTECNOLOGI IN LATINO AMERICA, SATELITAL
    OPERATION TO CANADA MINISTER, OBAMAS THEF, SPAIN KYNG, ANGELA MERKEL, SWUITZERLAND,
    vez+0058-0414h-h4h22h-h91h-h69hvhahlhlhehjhohs

    ORGS HUMAN RACE STUDIES AND AGENCYES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!MONSANTO!!!!!!! –– ARE TRYNG TO DAMAGE DNA OF THE VICTMS, IRRADIATING TO PRODUCE CANCER ALZEIMER.
    SATELITAL ASESSINATIOSN IN VENEZUELA, HUMAN SELL NANO TRANSMISOR SELL MILLIONS OF CALCULUS PER SECOND.

    MANIPULATION WITH NANO TECHNOLOGY NANO COMPUTERS WITH IPs.

    hhtp://www.mudpgi.blog.com
    SATELITAL ASESSINATIOSN IN VENEZUELA, HUMAN SELL NANO TRANSMISOR SELL MILLIONS OF CALCULUS PER SECOND.

    MANIPULATION WITH NANO TECHNOLOGY NANO COMPUTERS WITH IPs.

    hhtp://www.mudpgi.blog.com
    SATELITAL ASESSINATIOSN IN VENEZUELA, HUMAN SELL NANO TRANSMISOR SELL MILLIONS OF CALCULUS PER SECOND.

    MANIPULATION WITH NANO TECHNOLOGY NANO COMPUTERS WITH IPs.

    hhtp://www.mudpgi.blog.com
    SATELITAL ASESSINATIOSN IN VENEZUELA, HUMAN SELL NANO TRANSMISOR SELL MILLIONS OF CALCULUS PER SECOND.

    MANIPULATION WITH NANO TECHNOLOGY NANO COMPUTERS WITH IPs.

    hhtp://www.mudpgi.blog.com
    SATELITAL ASESSINATIOSN IN VENEZUELA, HUMAN SELL NANO TRANSMISOR SELL MILLIONS OF CALCULUS PER SECOND.

    MANIPULATION WITH NANO TECHNOLOGY NANO COMPUTERS WITH IPs.

    hhtp://www.mudpgi.blog.com
    SATELITAL ASESSINATIOSN IN VENEZUELA, HUMAN SELL NANO TRANSMISOR SELL MILLIONS OF CALCULUS PER SECOND.

    MANIPULATION WITH NANO TECHNOLOGY NANO COMPUTERS WITH IPs.

    hhtp://www.mudpgi.blog.com
    SATELITAL ASESSINATIOSN IN VENEZUELA, HUMAN SELL NANO TRANSMISOR SELL MILLIONS OF CALCULUS PER SECOND.

    MANIPULATION WITH NANO TECHNOLOGY NANO COMPUTERS WITH IPs.

    hhtp://www.mudpgi.blog.com
    SATELITAL ASESSINATIOSN IN VENEZUELA, HUMAN SELL NANO TRANSMISOR SELL MILLIONS OF CALCULUS PER SECOND.

    MANIPULATION WITH NANO TECHNOLOGY NANO COMPUTERS WITH IPs.

    hhtp://www.mudpgi.blog.com
    SATELITAL ASESSINATIOSN IN VENEZUELA, HUMAN SELL NANO TRANSMISOR SELL MILLIONS OF CALCULUS PER SECOND.

    MANIPULATION WITH NANO TECHNOLOGY NANO COMPUTERS WITH IPs.

    hhtp://www.mudpgi.blog.com
    SATELITAL ASESSINATIOSN IN VENEZUELA, HUMAN SELL NANO TRANSMISOR SELL MILLIONS OF CALCULUS PER SECOND.

    MANIPULATION WITH NANO TECHNOLOGY NANO COMPUTERS WITH IPs.

    hhtp://www.mudpgi.blog.com
    ddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd
    August 17, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    August 17, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
  7. shekkai gonzales

    i think our beloved pope francis be more that of a strong church leader who gives brave and firm stand over gays immorality, against GOD's teachings which absolutely no man can ever change!!.... NO GRAY AREAS PLEASE! ... it's confusing the faithful even more.

    August 11, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • Observer

      shekkai gonzales

      The Bible says that the law and the prophets are all about THE GOLDEN RULE.

      Why not start praciticing that instead of worrying about what two adult gays do in the privacy of their bedroom?

      August 11, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
      • Jeshua

        if you loved yourself, and you are doing wrong, will you not tell yourself, this your doing is wrong it will send you to hell?

        August 16, 2013 at 5:36 am |
  8. shekkai gonzales

    i am confused now between God's teaching and immorality in gays!

    August 11, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
1 2 3

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.