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Monday, July 29, 2013

National Catholic Reporter article on Pope's plane interview

This is the National Catholic Reporter article explaining some of the details of Pope Francis' hour+ interview with reporters on his plane flight back from Brazil.

I posted this comment to their article:

You have quoted Pope Francis as saying:
"There's a lot of talk about the gay lobby, but I've never seen it on the Vatican ID card."  "When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn't be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem ... they're our brothers."
Do you think he is clear enough here?  What does Pope Francis mean when he uses the term, gay person?  I think he also needs to distinguish between the general term of, a gay
person, and a person who experiences some level of same-sex sexual attractions.  He could have said the person who has a gay identity.  Or, even the Catholic who has same-sex attractions (and not defined those as necessarily being sexual in nature - but which could be relational, emotional or even romantic and still not being sexual).  The term, a gay person, is too vague of a term.  It can be misleading.  I can even omit some people who experience some level of same-sex sexual attractions.
However, just to say, a gay person, distorts the points he is trying to make about the tendency toward [homosexuality] (that he might be referring to either same-sex sexual behavior, or affirming a gay identity, or maybe only openly admitting that they have some level of same-sex sexual attractions).  The writer of this Catholic publication article, couldn't define whether his use of the word, homosexuality, referred to attractions or behavior, identity or orientation. 

What Pope Francis meant by saying, "the tendency," was that he meant a person experiencing same-sex sexual attractions to some degree.  He was not referring even to someone who thought that they needed to say their identity was gay.  Definitely not referring to someone who says that they are openly gay, (when they are meaning by that they are affirming of same-sex sexual behavior, or the approval of that behavior as their goal for their sexual behavior). 

So, it gets really sticky when someone says that they are an openly gay Catholic priest.  Or, even more complex yet, when someone says that they are an openly gay Catholic priest who is celibate chaste.  Still, this person is saying that their identity is in their sexual attractions.  Why couldn't that person say, much like Henri Nouwen said, (mostly however, in private), that he was a Christian man who experienced same-sex sexual and relational and emotional attractions, but that he did not intend to pursue same-sex sexual behavior, but that he deeply desired non-sexual, and non-romantic, same-sex relational and emotional relationships?

I replied to a comment by adoministro who was quoting sections from the Catechism of the Catholic Church Chastity and homosexuality and I said:

However, our culture often refers to homosexuality meaning only the sexual attractions.  Other times only the sexual behavior.  Other times both attractions and behavior.  And at other times our culture refers to a gay person as someone who experiences any percentage of same-sex sexual attractions.  Our culture rarely separates out those who would say that their identity, or their orientation, or their sexual behavior would be bisexual, and thus doesn't accurately representation the general understanding of the term, gay, when they use that term, gay, even as Pope Francis did. 

So, keep track of how the TV media reports this.  See if you get a different understanding than what the Pope intended. 

Notice here how the AP verbally in their News clip, spins the story.  Precisely what I predicted. 
Points they try to make:
  • shift in tone toward gays
  • won't judge gay priests (when "a gay person" is referring to more than priests)
  • if someone is gay and searches for the Lord, who am I to judge...  (but what was the if? - exactly...)  Who was he talking about when he said, "If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge?"  Not just priests.  He was referring to "a gay person," as he termed it.  What did he mean by accepting the Lord?  What does Lord mean?  It means more than just Savior.  And what does he mean by goodwill? 
  • what Pope Benedict's document said about priests who shouldn't be priests if they had... (almost correct, it said "deeply-seated homosexual tendencies"), but they don't talk about what the document says about the person's attractions that are themselves not sinful. 
  • gay lobby issue
  • the accusation - no gay trist; it was about matters of sin and not about crimes
  • God forgives and forgets when someone confesses sin
All this spin by Matt Freedman from the very same transcript of the very same conversation.  Amazing.  And they call is journalism and news reporting.