Nothing Francis said in this or other interviews indicate any change in church teaching. But he has set a different tone and signaled new priorities compared to Benedict and John Paul — priorities that have already been visible in his simple style, his outreach to the most marginalized and his insistence that priests be pastors, not bureaucrats.
Two months ago, Francis caused a sensation during an inflight news conference when he was asked about gay priests. "Who am I to judge?" about the sexual orientation of priests, as long as they are searching for God and have good will, he responded.
Francis noted in the latest interview that he had merely repeated church teaching (though he again neglected to repeat church teaching that says while homosexuals should be treated with dignity and respect, homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered.")
But he continued: "A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: 'Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?'
"We must always consider the person. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing."
The key, he said, is for the church to welcome, not exclude and show mercy, not condemnation.
"This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity," he said.
Religion Writer Rachel Zoll reported from New York.
- California bars judges from Boy Scouts...
- First Look: Jack Black is brave,...
- Police: Third person dies after shooting at...
- What's in a name? At Grand Canyon, history,...
- Notre Dame's 'white privilege' seminar draws...
- Chess in schools: bringing the classic mind...
- Mitt sounds like a candidate at Salt Lake speech
- NASA spacecraft almost to Pluto: Smile for...
- Mitt sounds like a candidate at Salt... 87
- Utah's congressional delegation... 71
- California bars judges from Boy Scouts... 64
- Obama in State of the Union: Tax... 56
- Romney says climate change presents a... 34
- Kerry: Violent extremism is not Islamic 26
- House Republicans run into divisions... 21
- Measles outbreak casts spotlight on... 19