Pope Francis held an impromptu press conference on his way home from Brazil and made major headlines in his comments about homosexuality, the canonization of Pope John Paul II and the future of the Vatican bank.
CNA/EWTN News is reporting that the July 28 meeting with journalists aboard the pope’s flight back to Rome on Sunday night found the pontiff willing to answer even the most probing questions from the press.
When asked about the upcoming canonization of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II, which was scheduled for December 8 of this year, Francis revealed that this probably wasn’t going to happen. The reason is because travel from John Paul’s native Poland will be too difficult at that time of year.
Blessed John Paul’s former secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, is said to have suggested the feast of Christ the King in late November, or next spring’s Feast of Divine Mercy. Both are under consideration.
Francis was also asked about the scandal involving Monsignor Battista Ricca, who he recently appointed secretary of the commission of cardinals that oversees the Vatican Bank. Msgr. Ricca was accused of living in a homosexual relationship years ago.
The pope responded by saying that further inquiries into Ricca’s situation “found nothing”.
“I’d like to add that many times we seem to seek out the sins of somebody’s youth and publish them. We’re not talking about crimes, which are something else. The abuse of minors, for instance, is a crime,” the pope said.
“But one can sin and then convert, and the Lord both forgives and forgets. We don’t have the right to refuse to forget … it’s dangerous.”
When asked about how he intends to reform the Vatican Bank, Francis admitted that he was still undecided. Among the options he listed was to turn it into an aid fund, making it an “ethical bank” or closing it down entirely.
“I don’t know how this story will end,” he said, adding that whether it remained a bank or became something else, the characteristics of the reformed entity would be “transparency and honesty.”
He also spoke to reporters about the need to develop a deeper “theology of women” in the Church.
“The role of women doesn’t end just with being a mother and with house work … we don’t yet have a truly deep theology of women in the Church,” he said, adding that the ordination of women is not possible.
What made the most headlines in the secular media was his response to a question about whether or not he would accept a celibate, homosexual priest into his diocese.
After reiterating the Church’s belief that having a homosexual orientation is not sinful, but to act upon it is sinful, he asked, “Whom am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?”
“It (the Catechism) says they should not be marginalized because of this but that they must be integrated into society.”
He made the comments while addressing the broader question about the existence of a so-called “gay lobby” in the Vatican.
“There’s a lot of talk about the gay lobby, but I’ve never seen it on the Vatican ID card!” he joked. “You have to distinguish between the fact of a person being gay, and the fact of a lobby.”
He continued: “The problem is not having this orientation. We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worse problem.”
Pope Francis also intimated that he’d like to accept the invitation of Patriarch Bartholomew I and the Israeli and Palestinian governments to visit Jerusalem.
A trip to Asia is also a possibility because Pope Benedict XVI did not make it there during his pontificate. The two likeliest choices for a trip would be the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
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