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Media Misconstrues Pope's Comments on Homosexuality

newspaper headlinesCommentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

The secular media is abuzz this week with headlines claiming Pope Francis may "soften" the Church's stance toward homosexuals because of comments he made during an impromptu press conference held on board his flight back to Rome on Sunday.

A variety of secular news outlets are reporting on the answer Francis gave to a question about whether or not he would allow a celibate homosexual into his diocese.

"Whom am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?" the pope responded. “It (the Catechism) says they should not be marginalized because of this but that they must be integrated into society.”

CBS erroneously reported that the comments "represented a shift from his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who signed a document in 2005 saying that men with deeply rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests."

CNN also claimed the comments represented a "shift" from his predecessor and "indicated a change in tone, if not in teaching, in the church's stance towards gays and lesbians more generally."

They quickly published a column by Rev. Gary M. Meier, author of Hidden Voices: Reflections of a Gay Catholic Priest, who is currently on leave from the priesthood to discern his vocation.

Father Meier wrote about the Pope's comments, saying: "Maybe now we can begin to have a conversation about the Church’s teaching on homosexuality; a teaching that I believe has caused harm to the LGBT community."

The reverend went on to blame the Church for the high teen suicide rate and from causing members of the LGBT community to feel like they are "disordered" or "defective in some way."

The National Catholic Reporter's John Allen opined: “At a certain point, tone becomes substance if it’s seen as revitalizing the prospects of the church.”

Writing for Patheos, Fr. Dwight Longenecker set the record straight: "When it comes to people with same sex attraction Francis simply re-affirmed the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that homosexual people are not to be treated badly in any way, but welcomed as all are welcomed. However, homosexual actions remain objectively disordered and sinful."

He goes on to say that the only sin committed in all this is "the way the journalists twisted his words."

Of course they pitted Francis against Benedict even though Francis never repudiated any of Benedict's positions on the subject. As Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi clarified, the only thing different is that the pope's attitude puts mercy, forgiveness and understanding "in the forefront."

Secular journalists "are either fools or knaves," Fr. Longenecker continues. "They either do not understand the full teaching of the Catholic Church or they twist it on purpose, and I believe they are the latter not the former."

Contrary to popular belief, the mainstream media is not pleased with the world's newest rock star, Pope Francis.

"They’re hopping mad," he writes, "but they’re not going to show it."

Instead, "They will kill him with kindness. They will use his 'peace and justice' message to promote their left wing agenda while they twist his traditionalist teachings to suit their own aims just as they have done in this display of articles . . . "

In other words - nothing's changed. The mainstream media continues to be ignorant about Church teaching -  and dangerous because of the poor catechesis that has left so many of the faithful just as clueless.

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