Archbishop Sample from Portland, Oregon, reflected recently on the famous words of Pope Francis, “Who am I to judge?” in light of its context. These words are usually taken out-of-context to imply that the Holy Father sees nothing wrong with sexual acts between two persons of the same sex. Instead, “These words of Pope Francis were delivered in response to a very specific question about a particular individual who was accused of inappropriate homosexual behavior in the past.”
Bishop Sample included the pope’s whole quote: “I see that many times in the Church people search for ‘sins from youth’, for example, and then publish them. They are not crimes, right? No, sins. But if a person, whether it be a lay person, a priest or a religious sister, commits a sin and then converts, the Lord forgives, and when the Lord forgives, the Lord forgets and this is very important for our lives. When we confess our sins and we truly say, ‘I have sinned in this’, the Lord forgets, and so we have no right not to forget, because otherwise we would run the risk of the Lord not forgetting our sins. That is a danger. This is important: a theology of sin…If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?… The problem is not having this tendency, no, we must be brothers and sisters to one another…”
Indeed, as Bishop Sample points out, Pope Francis is bringing out what the Catholic Church has always taught: that our God is a God of mercy. He then goes on to highlight some of Pope Francis’s other words which show that he is certainly not an advocate for so-called same-sex “marriage.”
Read the full text here.
Recently, the Archdiocese of Detroit, the apostolate Courage, and Sacred Heart Major Seminary (particularly Dr. Janet Smith) organized a conference entitled, “Welcoming and Accompanying Our Brothers and Sisters with Same-Sex Attraction.” There were close to thirty speakers and four hundred participants with the same goal of meeting the pastoral needs of persons who experience this attraction in their lives.
Archbishop Vigneron gave the closing homily for the conference, focusing on the various ministers present (ordained or lay) and their calling. He drew a parallel with Moses leading the people out of slavery in Egypt, saying that, “We have all, to some degree, depending on our state of life, received the baton from the new Moses, Jesus Christ” and reminded the participants that, “There’s a lot of tough stuff between Egypt and Jerusalem, not least leaving behind the old creation, the old self, and becoming a new creation.” Archbishop Vigneron pointed out that the Israelites often chafed against Moses because of the hardships of the journey, but, “To have high aspirations for people — that’s love. To be willing to accompany them on the passage to paradise, to the New Jerusalem — that’s love.”
The archbishop noted that Christ, “made the victory available to us. He is the last word and the full word, about happiness, the way, the truth, and the life.” Ministers are not perfect; it’s okay to stumble sometimes in the effort to help others. “Very likely as we accompany our brothers and sisters there will be stumbling. But stumbling is not a tragic failure when one is accompanying a brother or sister to the promised land. Stumbling becomes by the power of Christ a point for setting out anew with even greater confidence to lay hold of the victory that is inevitable.”
Finally, Archbishop Vigneron ended with a challenge and hope: “People think we’re old fashioned. We’re not. We’re subversive. We’re undermining an established order. Not for its own sake. Not just to be recalcitrant. But because of what God has asked us to do. We do it in love, we do it with patience, we do it in the power of the Holy Spirit. I praise and thank God that the Holy Spirit is abroad in our time and in our place.”
Read the full text at the diocesan website.