Click here if you don’t see subscription options

Flying back to Rome on Oct. 2 after a visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan, the pope was asked how, given his criticism on Oct. 1 of “gender theory” and of what he calls “ideological colonization,” he would provide pastoral care to a person who felt his or her sexuality did not correspond to his or her biology.

Pope Francis began responding to the reporter’s question by saying that as a priest, a bishop and even as pope he has “accompanied people with homosexual tendencies and even homosexual activity. I accompanied them; I helped them draw closer to the Lord, although some couldn’t. But I never abandoned them.

“People must be accompanied the way Jesus would accompany them,” he said. “When a person who has this situation arrives before Jesus, Jesus certainly will not say, ‘Go away because you are homosexual.’ No.”

Pope Francis said what he was condemning was “indoctrination of gender theory,” teaching small children that no matter their biological sex, they can choose their gender.

He said a Spanish father told him he had asked his son what he wanted to be when he grew up and the boy replied, “A girl.” The father realized the child was taught in school that gender is a choice, “and this is against nature.”

“It is one thing for a person to have this tendency, this option and even to have a sex change, but it is another thing to teach this in schools in order to change mentalities. This I call ideological colonization,” the pope said.

The pope also told the story of a Spanish husband and wife whom he invited to the Vatican. The husband was born a girl, but always felt like a boy. When she was in her 20s, she told her mother she wanted a sex change operation, but the mother begged her not to do it as long as she was alive. When her mother died, she had the surgery, the pope said.

A Spanish bishop, “a good bishop,” spent a lot of time “to accompany this man,” who later married, the pope said. They asked to come to the Vatican “and I received them and they were very happy.”

In the town where the man lived, he said, a new priest, “when he would see him would shout at him from the sidewalk, ‘You will go to hell!’ But when he’d meet his old priest, he would say to him, ‘How long has it been since you’ve confessed? Come on, confess so you can take Communion.’

“Do you understand?” the pope asked the journalists. “Life is life and you must take things as they come. Sin is sin. And tendencies or hormonal imbalances” create problems “and you cannot say, ‘It’s all the same; let’s throw a party.’ No.”

Welcome the person, study the situation, accompany the person and integrate him or her into the life of the community, the pope said. “This is what Jesus would do today.”

“Please,” the pope told reporters, “Don’t say, ‘The pope will bless transgender people,’ O.K.?

“I want to be clear. It is a moral problem. It is a problem. A human problem,” the pope said. “And it must be resolved the best one can—always with the mercy of God, with the truth” and “always with an open heart.”

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Richard Miller
7 years 6 months ago
The moral problem is when one doesn't think critically and is spoon fed everything they are told to be true and treating it as a matter of fact. Who is the "steward" of our faith, if not Christ Himself? And what do we know of Him if it not be found in the Gospels? And where does Christ condemn GLBT persons and equate their person as well as there actions as sinful? Nowhere. Its time to take the time to dig our heels in and seriously study transgender issues-read the research, engage with one who is self-identified as such. Take the time to do the hard work of Christ by looking at another through the eyes of Christ. Religion is structured to let certain people in and keep others out. It is discriminatory by its very essence. But, what is the Spirit behind the letters of its laws? Is it of the Holy Spirit of God, or the prejudices of man's own heart? Believe it or not, there are GLBT persons who hunger and thirst for righteousness and they are drinking from the Water from which thirst doesn't return-Christ, the Lord. He is being known to them in the breaking of the bread. Is He being known to them in our witness? Consider the spiritual pain the Church has imposed on GLBT persons-the isolation, the guilt, loss of meaning. When we as Christians lay the cross on the backs of others who sincerely seek the Lord, do we not put it on the back of Christ Himself anew? It is time to stop generalizing about all GLBT persons as being sinners, immoral, perverted, sick, or whatever other deragotaory adjective one can conjur up. Stereotypes are just that no matter how you spin them. Jesus met with Pharisees (he was a Pharisee Himself) and he systematically called each and every "righteous" one out for being a hypocrite and a liar. But, he didn't judge them all in a negative light-recall the lawyer who answered Jesus well. The biggest dichotomy I see in the Catholic Church today is its curious relationship with social justice. It's ok, it would seem, to pick and choose who those marginalized groups will be that will receive inclusion into the full life and ministry of the church. During Vatican 2, the church shocked the world when it announced that there were certain truths in other religion. It even went so far as to state that the Muslim religion worshipped the same God it did-that it was an Abrahimic faith. And, while this was shocking to many, the Church has continued to survive and thrive. Will it take Vatican 3 to include our self-identified GLBT sisters and brothers who already attend, and sometimes pastor our parishes? Its time for Christians to stop impugning the innocent. God knows the heart. He alone is privy to man's heart, not us.
Mike Evans
7 years 6 months ago
Prelates on all sides seem confused about not only biology but also relationships. Nobody is trying to convert little boys to the gay life.

The latest from america

Listen to Gemma’s homily for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B, in which she explains how her experience of poverty in Brazil gave radical significance to Christ’s words: “Make your home in me as I make mine in you.”
PreachApril 22, 2024
Scott Loudon and his team filming his documentary, ‘Anonimo’ (photo courtesy of Scott Loudon)
This week, a music festival returns to the Chiquitos missions in Bolivia, which the Jesuits established between 1691 and 1760. The story of the Jesuit "reductions" was made popular by the 1986 film ‘The Mission.’
The world can change for the better only when people are out in the world, “not lying on the couch,” Pope Francis told some 6,000 Italian schoolchildren.
Cindy Wooden April 19, 2024
Our theology of relics tells us something beautiful and profound not only about God but about what we believe about materiality itself.
Gregory HillisApril 19, 2024