ROME ( Associated Press) – Pope Francis has clarified his recent comments about homosexuality and sin, saying he was simply referring to official Catholic moral teaching that any sexual act outside marriage is a sin.
And in a note on Friday, Argentina’s pontiff recalled that even that teaching is subject to conditions that can perpetuate sin.
Francis first made the comments on Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press, in which he declared that laws criminalizing homosexuality were “unjust” and that “being gay is not a crime.”
As is usual for him, Francis envisions a conversation with someone raising the issue of the Church’s official catechism, which states that homosexual acts are sinful, or “intrinsically disordered.”
The Pope said in mock dialogue, “Okay, first let’s separate the sin from the crime.” “But lack of charity towards one’s neighbor is also a sin.”
His words calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality were hailed by LGBTQ activists as a milestone that would help end bullying and violence towards people in the community. But his reference to “sin” raised questions about whether he believed that the mere fact of being gay was a sin.
James Martin, an American Jesuit who runs outreach to LGBTQ Catholics in the country, sought an explanation from Francis and posted the pontiff’s handwritten response on the outreach’s website late Friday.
In his note, Francis reaffirmed that homosexuality “is not a crime,” and said he said it “to underscore that all criminalization is neither good nor appropriate.”
“When I said it was a sin, I was only referring to Catholic moral teaching which says that any sexual act outside marriage is a sin,” the pope wrote in Spanish, underlining the last sentence.
But for his case-by-case pastoral approach, he said that even the teaching is subject to consideration of circumstances “that abet or mitigate the crime.”
He acknowledged that he should have been more specific in his interview with the Associated Press, but said he used “natural and conversational language” that did not require precise definitions.
“As you see, I was repeating a general point. He should have said, ‘It is a sin as is any sexual act outside marriage. It is a “case” of sin, but we are good Kindly know that Catholic ethics, in addition to matter, evaluates freedom, intention; and this, for all kinds of sins, ”he said.
Some 67 countries or jurisdictions around the world criminalize consensual same-sex relationships, and 11 of them have or can impose the death penalty, according to The Human Dignity Trust, which is working to end those laws. Is. Experts point out that even when laws are not enforced, they contribute to harassment, stigma, and violence against LGBTQ people.
Catholic doctrine prohibits same-sex marriage, asserting that the sacrament of marriage is a lifelong bond between one man and one woman. It reserves sex for married couples and prohibits artificial insemination.
In his decade-long pontificate, Francis has maintained that principle, but has made reaching out to the LGBTQ community a priority. In addition, he has emphasized a more compassionate approach in the application of principle to support people rather than judge them.