I would like permission to ask a delicate question: another image that has been going around the world is that of Monsignor Ricca and the news about his private life. I would like to know, Your Holiness, what you intend to do about this? How are you confronting this issue and how does Your Holiness intend to confront the whole question of the gay lobby?
About Monsignor Ricca: I did what canon law calls for, that is a preliminary investigation. And from this investigation, there was nothing of what had been alleged. We did not find anything of that. This is the response. But I wish to add something else: I see that many times in the Church, over and above this case, but including this case, people search for “sins from youth”, for example, and then publish them. They are not crimes, right? Crimes are something different: the abuse of minors is a crime. No, sins. But if a person, whether it be a lay person, a priest or a religious sister, commits a sin and then converts, the Lord forgives, and when the Lord forgives, the Lord forgets and this is very important for our lives.
When we confess our sins and we truly say, “I have sinned in this”, the Lord forgets, and so we have no right not to forget, because otherwise we would run the risk of the Lord not forgetting our sins. That is a danger. This is important: a theology of sin. Many times I think of Saint Peter. He committed one of the worst sins, that is he denied Christ, and even with this sin they made him Pope. We have to think a great deal about that. But, returning to your question more concretely. In this case, I conducted the preliminary investigation and we didn’t find anything. This is the first question.
Then, you spoke about the gay lobby. So much is written about the gay lobby. I still haven’t found anyone with an identity card in the Vatican with “gay” on it. They say there are some there. I believe that when you are dealing with such a person, you must distinguish between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of someone forming a lobby, because not all lobbies are good. This one is not good. If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this in a beautiful way, saying ... wait a moment, how does it say it ... it says: “no one should marginalize these people for this, they must be integrated into society”. The problem is not having this tendency, no, we must be brothers and sisters to one another, and there is this one and there is that one. The problem is in making a lobby of this tendency: a lobby of misers, a lobby of politicians, a lobby of masons, so many lobbies. For me, this is the greater problem. Thank you so much for asking this question. Many thanks.
Pope Francis, Press Conference on plane after World Youth Day, 2013
Reflection – So, this happened. And apparently it has stirred up some controversy or other among some people or other. In my usual way, I refused to immediately drop whatever I was blogging about (the Sermon on the Mount) to breathlessly report on the scandal of the Pope following… well, the Sermon on the Mount, to be precise.
Yes, let the headlines read ‘Pope Francis says ‘judge not, lest ye be judged.’ Film at 11. Because that is just about all he is talking about here, and I don’t know how anyone reading his remarks could come away with anything else from them
We are all sinners. If someone at least seems to be turning away from sin, ‘searching for the Lord and has good will’, then we have no right as Christians to do anything but embrace him or her as our brother, our sister.
It is only by a criminally dishonest misreading of the quote (hello, New York Times!) that the Pope could be understood as changing any Church teaching or contradicting Benedict or any such thing. Clearly, he is quoting the Cathechism and speaking in the very context of sin and our common struggle with sin. There is no way to read what he is saying that would suggest the Pope does not see homosexual intercourse as sinful.
What he is talking about is a very simple thing: mercy. And the fact that ‘mercy’ towards gay people is controversial in at least some quarters of the Catholic Church is really, really pathetic, folks. We are all sinners; all fall short of the glory of God. I don’t know of any Scriptures that carve out a special place for homosexuality that only qualifies for mercy if the gay person in question passing a series of loyalty tests and agrees to never use the word ‘gay’ again (apparently the Pope’s use of the g-word riled up some folks) and above all never shows any signs of struggle or faltering or being tempted ever again because, ick.
The Pope is calling us all to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful and to not judge lest we be judged. THIS IS NOT CONTROVERSIAL. Or rather, it is controversial in the exact sense that the Gospel is controversial. Do we believe it, will we live it, or not? That, my brothers and sisters, is where the Lord will judge us, not on what particular sin and temptation we struggle with and just how often we need to cry out the great prayer of faith, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
And that’s about all the ‘controversy’ I plan to engage in for now. Tomorrow is Our Lady’s great feast day, and so we’ll talk about her some, and then we’ll see. À demain!