Chilean Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of alleged clerical sexual abuse, claims that in a recent meeting with Pope Francis the pontiff told him that God had made him gay and loves him the way he is.
“Juan Carlos, you being gay doesn’t matter,” Francis reportedly told Mr. Cruz in April. “God made you like this and loves you like this and it doesn’t matter to me. The pope loves you like this, you have to be happy with who you are.”
Cruz is one of three victims of Father Fernando Karadima who were in Rome in late April for three days of meetings with Francis. His comments came in an interview published on Saturday with the Spanish daily El Pais.
It is possible that the pope used those very words and it is also possible that Mr. Cruz walked away with that message, but that the pope’s words were somewhat different. In a matter of this nature, the exact words matter a lot.
The Catholic Church teaches that because of original sin, all human beings are born with a wounded nature and sinful inclinations, which together are referred to as “concupiscence.” While God loves all persons as they are, He never wills that people act on disordered or sinful desires.
Catholics believe that God creates all human persons in love, but all people are also called to use their freedom responsibly, following positive inspirations and resisting attractions that are sinful.
It is illogical to assume that since God made us he wants us to act on all our urges as if they all came from Him.
God—Catholics would say—loves all of us “as we are” in the sense that He is not waiting for us to be perfect in order to love us. He loves us with the good and the bad, the weakness and the strength that is in us. He offers forgiveness for our sins and grace to do better in the future.
The pope seems to understand this.
In fact, in the ten-page report that the pope distributed to the Chilean bishops takes issue with them having placed gay priests to work in forming seminarians.
“In the case of many of the abusers,” Francis said, “serious problems had already been detected in them during their training in the seminary or novitiate.”
In the report drawn up on the Chilean situation, he continued, “There are grave accusations against bishops and superiors who had entrusted these educational institutions to priests suspected of active homosexuality.”
Contrary to the interpretations of the mainstream media, the pope’s comments do not seem to contradict Catholic teaching, which considers homosexuality “objectively disordered” and contrary to God’s law.
Affirming God’s unconditional love for someone is not the same as condoning all aspects of their behavior.
On Monday, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke stated simply, “We do not normally comment on the Pope’s private conversations.”