I found it amusing that the biggest news from World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro was not that Pope Francis attracted 3.7 million people to his Sunday Mass on Copacabana Beach (inevitably nicknamed “Popacabana” for the week). Nor was it the pope’s dramatic speech before an enthusiastic crowd in Rio’s Varginha slum, where he affirmed the Catholic Church’s stance on combating poverty, deploying terms like “social justice,” “economic inequalities” and “solidarity.” Nor was it even when his motorcade took a wrong turn and ended up on a crowded street, with the papal car suddenly swamped by well-wishers.
No, the worldwide headline-grabber was the pope’s off-the-cuff comment during what one reporter friend told me was an “insane” (in the best possible way) news conference on the flight back to Rome. Despite some turbulence, Pope Francis expertly fielded questions for 82 minutes. And in response to a question about a supposed “gay lobby” in the church, he answered as follows:
"There is so much being written about the gay lobby. I have yet to meet anyone who introduces himself at the Vatican with a ‘gay card.’ . . . If a gay person is searching for God with goodwill, who am I to judge them?”
The pope also said, “The Catechism of the church expresses this beautifully . . .” And here he paused to ask his press spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, for the right word. “They should not be marginalized.”
The pope’s comments were noteworthy not only because he spoke about gays and lesbians in a way not traditionally done by most church leaders, but because he emphasized a Gospel teaching that may become the touchstone of his papacy: mercy.
Specifically, here’s how the pope’s words caused some turbulence in the church...
Read the rest here.