Quest, the homosexual group banned by Cardinal Hume from calling itself a ‘Catholic organisation’ but warmly supported by Bishop Conry, has called Pope Francis’ use of the word ‘gay’ a Pentecost moment for the Church, comparing it with the theophany when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles following Our Lord’s Ascension.
Quest has posted on its website:
concerning recent remarks by Pope Francis
Quest, the UK association for LGBT Catholics, their families and friends, welcomes Pope Francis’s recent words on homosexuality on his return to Rome from World Youth Day in Brazil. Quest believes this is a Pentecost moment for two reasons.
- Unlike his predecessor Benedict XVI who often appeared uneasy and defensive with the press, Pope Francis’s approach is more in keeping with the Apostles who preferred the risk and uncertainty of leaving the Upper Room in order to take the message of the risen Christ to the wider world. His eighty minute press conference on board the plane showed a leader who was unafraid to tackle a wide variety of questions and he engaged freely and openly. This is in contrast with traditional protocol which has often seen journalists having to submit written questions in advance, questions which were often selected with a view to avoiding controversy and in which ecclesiastical control frequently did not permit spontaneous exchange of question and answer. Pope Francis has changed all expectations.
- Francis used the word, “gay” not once, but five times. He is the first Catholic leader to do so. This is deeply significant. “Gay” is the term that originated in the struggle for human rights and it is a word that the many in the LGBT community use to refer to themselves. This shift of language suggests empathy and engagement. After the Pentecost, the Apostles left the Upper Room and spoke in many languages. This shift in language enabled them to be understood more widely among many people who had not heard the Christian message.
Many have reacted by suggesting his words, “if a person is gay, who am I to judge?” suggest no essential change of Church teaching which still condemns sexual acts between members of the same sex. But that is to miss the point. Quest believes the Spirit is blowing forcefully in Pope Francis’ recent remarks and sincerely hopes these will not be his last words on the subject.’
Here are Pope Francis’ actual words from his interview on the flight back from WYD Rio:
I would like to ask permission to ask a somewhat delicate question: another image has also gone around the world, which is that of Monsignor Ricca and news about your privacy. I would like to know, Holiness, what do you intend to do about this question. How to address this question and how Your Holiness intends to address the whole question of the gay lobby?
‘….Then you spoke of the gay lobby. Goodness knows! So much is written of the gay lobby. I still have not met one who will give me the identity card with “gay” . They say that they exist. I think that when one meets a person like this, one must distinguish the fact of being a gay person from the fact of doing a lobby, because not all lobbies are good. That’s bad. If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge him? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this in such a beautiful way, it says, Wait a bit, as is said and says: “these persons must not be marginalized because of this; they must be integrated in society.” The problem isn’t having this tendency, no. We must be brothers, because this is one, but there are others, others. The problem is the lobbying of this tendency: lobby of the avaricious, lobby of politicians, lobby of Masons, so many lobbies. This, for me, is the more serious problem. And I thank you.’
Protect the Pope comment: Pope Francis’ use of the word ‘gay’ is his direct response to the journalist’s question about ‘the gay lobby’, and signifies nothing more than the Holy Father accepting the premise of the journalist’s question. His use of the word ‘gay’ does not signify an earth-shattering change in the Church’s doctrine on homosexuality, but an off the cuff reply in a Q & A. This is hardly a Pentecost moment for the Church.