‘Gay Doesn’t Matter’ Remark Continues ‘Shadow Magisterium’


National Catholic Register, 21 May 2018

It would be better if comments reportedly made by the Pope in private remained in private, not splashed around the world by news media.

Pope Francis has pioneered a new form of papal teaching, massively influential but officially non-existent. It is something of a shadow magisterium, but on occasion it shines a brighter light than the official magisterium.  

The latest example regards the nature of homosexuality. Juan Carlos Cruz, one of the Chilean sexual abuse victims who spent several days with Pope Francis in April, related the following from his conversations with the Holy Father about being gay. 

“Juan Carlos, that you are gay doesn’t matter,” he said Francis told him. “God made you like this and loves you like this and it doesn’t matter to me. The Pope loves you like this, you have to be happy with who you are.”

We do not know of course what Pope Francis actually said, much less what he meant by it. The Holy See Press Office, as it customarily does when private conversations with Pope Francis are reported by his interlocutors, neither confirms nor denies what was said and reiterates that private conversations have no magisterial standing. 

While they have no standing, such statements fly around the world instantly. That the Holy Father endorsed the view that a homosexual orientation is a positive good, desired and approved by God, is what was reported, broadcast, posted and tweeted around the world. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes three points about homosexuality: i) homosexual persons are created and loved by God and should be fully respected in their human dignity, ii) a same-sex orientation or attraction is “disordered” and therefore cannot be a positive good desired by God, and iii) that homosexual acts, like all sexual acts outside of marriage, are sinful.

Does Pope Francis disagree with that? That’s unlikely, as he has repeatedly said in regard to homosexuality that he follows the Catechism.

But it is a possibility, at least until it is demonstrated Juan Cruz is mistaken in his recollection, or that the Holy Father himself clarifies his meaning. But clarifications are not offered in such situations. Meanwhile, officially non-existent teaching becomes legitimate news, as it seems that the supreme pontiff is changing Catholic doctrine. 

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