On Sunday, Pope Francis expressed that the Catholic Church welcomes all, including the gay community, and is responsible for guiding them spiritually, albeit within the Church’s laws.
While returning from the World Youth Day Catholic festival in Portugal, the 86-year-old Pope appeared vibrant as he engaged with reporters for roughly 30 minutes during his typical informal post-journey press conference. He was seated at the front of the reporters’ section on the plane.
During the trip, a reporter recalled Pope’s statement about the Church’s openness to everyone and questioned the apparent inconsistency that some groups, such as women and gay people, lack the same rights and cannot participate in certain sacraments. The issue raised was that women cannot be ordained as priests through the sacrament of Holy Orders, and same-sex couples cannot marry within the Church.
Pope Francis replied, “The Church is open to everyone, but there are laws that govern life within the Church. According to the legislation, they cannot participate in (some) sacraments. This does not imply closure. Everyone finds God in their way within the Church.”
He emphasized that Church ministers must approach all people, even those not adhering to the rules, with maternal love and patience.
The Catholic Church maintains that women cannot be priests, reflecting Jesus’ choice of male apostles. Similarly, the Church does not endorse same-sex marriages or blessings for same-sex couples. While Pope Francis supports civil legislation granting rights to same-sex couples in matters like pensions and health insurance, the Church’s teachings insist that same-sex acts are sinful, though not the attraction itself.
Francis has sought to create a more inclusive and less judgmental Church environment, especially towards the LGBT community, without altering doctrines that call for chastity among those with same-sex attraction.
He also stated, referring to young people, “Who among us has not made a moral error at some point in their lives?”
Pope Francis’s tenure over the past decade has seen reforms, such as more prominent roles for women in Vatican positions. However, these efforts must carefully balance attracting liberal believers and not alienating conservatives.
On the plane, Pope Francis reflected on his rejuvenating experience at the World Youth Day Catholic festival in Portugal, mentioning the crowd’s orderly conduct and size.