In a world teeming with racism, poverty, war, social injustice, and a giant scandal involving priests molesting scores of children, the Pope of the Catholic Church is reminding us today that he’s worried about gay people — specifically gay people joining the Catholic ministry. Girl, don’t you have bigger loaves of bread and fish to fry?
“It’s something that worries me,” says Pope Francis in a book-length interview, The Strength of a Vocation, as reported by The Guardian. “We have to discern with seriousness and listen to the voice of the experience that the Church has. When discernment is not used, problems increase. As I said before, it may be that at the moment they are accepted maybe they do not show their faces [as gay people], but later they appear.”
Pope Francis believes “the issue of homosexuality is a very serious matter that must be properly discerned from the beginning with the candidates [for priesthood]. We have to be demanding.”
The Pope blames the influx of holy gays on society making homosexuality “fashionable,” an attitude that “in some way, also influences the life of the church.” Francis says there is “no room for this” in the lives of those serving the Church. “For this reason, the Church urges that persons with this rooted tendency not be accepted into (priestly) ministry or consecrated life.”
In the interview, Francis had a direct message for gay religious men and women: “We must urge you to live fully celibate and, above all, to be exquisitely responsible, trying not to scandalize your communities or the holy faithful people of God by living a double life. It is better that you leave the ministry or consecrated life rather than live a double life.”
Two weeks after the Pope’s interview, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano claimed that a “homosexual network” exists within the Church, with members helping give each other a leg up — among other things? — in the hierarchy. Vigano also claimed the pope ignored the accusations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who resigned in July after U.S, church officials investigated accusations that he’d sexually abused a 16-year-old boy almost 50 years ago. Vigano’s 7,000-word letter called for Pope Francis’ resignation.
The Vatican claimed Vigano’s comments were nothing but “calumny and defamation.” And yet now, rather than addressing the persistent culture of sexual misconduct within the church, the Pope seems to be placing the blame on queer religious men, inferring that by entering the ministry without controlling their impulses they are to blame. By conflating pedophilia with homosexuality, the Pope follows a decades- or even centuries-long trend of far-right ideology that has been used to restrict the rights of (or, even justify the harm of) LGBTQ people all over the world.
The recently published comments are a significant departure from the Pope’s public image — specifically since he’s mostly sidestepped when asked pointed questions about key issues, including homosexuality and the Church’s sexual assault crisis. Long praised by the media and worshippers alike as a “modern” or “liberal” Pope, this interview finally unearths how Francis truly feels about the LGBTQ community.