Pope talks about gays, annulments in new book

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Pope Francis talks aboard the papal plane while en route to Italy September 28, 2015. Photo by Tony Gentile courtesy of Reuters

Pope Francis talks aboard the papal plane while en route to Italy September 28, 2015. Photo by Tony Gentile courtesy of Reuters

VATICAN CITY (RNS) A new, book-length interview with Pope Francis gives fresh insight into his views of gay Catholics, marriage annulments and other hot topics being debated by Catholics globally.

Extracts of the conversation, in Italian, between Francis and journalist Andrea Tornielli, were released Sunday (Jan. 10) under the title, “The Name of God Is Mercy.” It coincides with the Vatican’s Holy Year of Mercy which began in December.

While the title theme is addressed at length, the pope also opens up on a host of other issues. Here are some excerpts from the English translation, which was officially published on Tuesday:

Gay Catholics:

“I am glad that we are talking about ‘homosexual people’ because before all else comes the individual person, in his wholeness and dignity. And people should not be defined only by their sexual tendencies: let us not forget that God loves all his creatures and we are destined to receive his infinite love.

“I prefer that homosexuals come to confession, that they stay close to the Lord, and that we pray all together. You can advise them to pray, show goodwill, show them the way, and accompany them along it.”

Marriage annulments:

“I have a niece who was married to a man in a civil wedding before he received the annulment of his previous marriage. They wanted to get married, they loved each other, they wanted children, and they had three. The judge had even awarded him custody of the children from his first marriage. This man was so religious that every Sunday, when he went to Mass, he went to the confessional and said to the priest, ‘I know you can’t absolve me but I have sinned by doing this and that, please give me a blessing.’ This is a religiously mature man.”

Cover of a new book that comprises an interview with Pope Francis.

Cover of a new book that comprises an interview with Pope Francis.

Migrants and other vulnerable people:

“Reach out, know how to listen, advise them, and teach them through our own experience. By welcoming a marginalized person whose body is wounded and by welcoming the sinner whose soul is wounded, we put our credibility as Christians on the line.”


“Every time I go through the gates into a prison to celebrate Mass or for a visit, I always think: Why them and not me? I should be here. I deserve to be here. Their fall could have been mine. I do not feel superior to the people who stand before me. And so I repeat and pray: Why him and not me? It might seem shocking, but I derive consolation from Peter: he betrayed Jesus, and even so he was chosen.”


“The corrupt man gets angry because his wallet is stolen and so he complains about the lack of safety on the streets, but then he is the one who cheats the state by evading taxes, or else he fires his employees every three months so he doesn’t have to hire them with a permanent contract, or else he has them work off the books. And then he boasts to his friends about his cunning ways. He is the one who goes to Mass every Sunday but has no problem using his powerful position to demand kickbacks…. The corrupt man often doesn’t realize his own condition, much as a person with bad breath does not know they have it.”

(Rosie Scammell covers the Vatican for RNS)

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  • Betty Clermont

    The pope loves gay persons but not enough to grant them the human right to marry, adopt children, to be employed in his Church or to have equal access to public accommodations. And still insists that divorced Catholics cannot remarry without a Church-granted annulment. Migrants are to be welcomed but the pope supports the governments who maltreat them. And employees and supporters of corrupt multinational corporations are handling his own finances.

  • Margaret Sjoholm-Franks

    The Pope loves gays and lesbians as long as they don´t exercise their civil rights, form families and be who they are

  • Frank Schwimmer

    He cannot support gay marriage otherwise half of RC clergy and who knows how many nuns would run to get married

  • marco luxe

    But you left out all the OT sins. You know the ones I mean. How convenient!

  • Margaret Sjoholm-Franks

    The funny thing is that Jesus, the founder of Christianity NEVER said a word about homosexuality…nowhere in the NT Jesus says anything about the topic…

    I am just giving you a spoonful of your own literalism…

    “The corrupt man often doesn’t realize his own condition, much as a person with bad breath does not know they have it.”

    Wrong, again Pope!
    The corrupt man is someone who simply doesn’t care to examine his own fundamental inhumanity! Jesus is a completely corrupt character:

    “The slave who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants shall be beaten with many blows.” – JESUS (Luke 12:47)

    The Pope is just as corrupt – fully incapable of honestly looking at his inhumanity.

  • The Pope OPPOSES:

    And your access to it

    Your tolerance of it and the evidence it is normal sexuality

    Gay marriage
    And your tolerance of it

    Separation of Church and State
    And your right to live without his version of religion

    Women’s equal rights
    And your desire for it

    Freedom of speech

    Justice for victims of Pedophilia

    Transparent government
    And your right to it.

    He demands your acceptance of ALL of his religious claims including his view of other religions no matter how contradictory or ridiculous they are!

    No room for grownups to think for themselves in a world where religion is strong.

  • There is no such thing as “Sin”
    It is a made up word for a crime against an imaginary creature.

  • Debbo

    I really appreciate how clear this pope is about the systemic sin endemic in America. (Yes, yes. Other nations too.) He is clear about that here:

    “The corrupt man gets angry because his wallet is stolen and so he complains about the lack of safety on the streets, but then he is the one who cheats the state by evading taxes.”

    Francisco’s description goes on in greater detail, but the point is clear. Some capitalists commit sins but shrug them off saying, “It’s just business.” Sin is sin, whether in the furtherance of business or not. Corporate raiders like Romney, Trump and others are sinning on a grand scale. Rather than lauded for their behavior, they ought to be shamed for it. It is sin.

  • G Key

    That’s Paul, not Jesus. (And even Paul, who was well-known for his hotheaded, opinionated nature, commented on his own “partial”, “imperfect”, and “incomplete” knowledge.)

    As for Jesus, he showed us by his own example just how important it is to spend your free time dwelling on the sex lives of strangers. Yep. It’s exactly that important to Jesus.

  • @G Key,

    “That’s Paul, not Jesus.”

    Hmmm. And yet it is ‘the word of God’.
    Go figure.

  • William Murphy

    Paul was chosen by Jesus to Preach: to ignore Paul is to ignore Jesus.

    Max: no such thing as sin? So Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot ect never did anything sinful?

  • William Murphy

    Love the sinner, hate the sin.

    Homosexual behavior and divorce are affronts to God and can not be approved.

    So what should the Pope do with governments who mistreat migrants? Declare war? How do you define mistreat?

    You have reviewed the Vatican finances?

  • William P. Murphy

    Christ did not talk on all subjects but he did send the Apostles working with the Holy Spirit to preach the word of God.

  • Virginia

    “If anyone sins and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, even though they do not know it, they are guilty and will be held responsible.”[Leviticus 5:17]

    Atheist Max, just because you do not believe in sin, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist to the creator of the universe who created you, and who can punish you for committing it. You are acting like a spider shaking your 8 fists at the one who can step on and crush you.

  • @William Murphy,

    “So Hitler, Stalin…never did anything sinful?”

    Not if God is Sinless, Perfect and Holy:

    GOD Commands Mass Genocide:
    “I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy.” (JER 13:14)
    “Now go and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not, but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling.” (1 Samuel 15:3)
    God Commands you to kill used women. Rape the little girls:
    ” Now kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man. Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for your pleasure.” (Num:31:18)
    God Commands Rape
    “Your neighbor shall make sex with your wives in the daylight” (2 Samuel 12:11)

    If these are not sins
    how can you claim Hitler or Stalin sinned for doing the same things?

  • @Virginia,

    “just because you do not believe in sin, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist”

    But I’m told God is SINLESS.

    “If the wife…intervenes to rescue her husband from the grip of his opponent by reaching out and grabbing his PENIS AND TESTICLES, you shall cut off her hand; show no pity. This is the word of your Lord.” – GOD (DEUT. 25:11)

    Cut off your wife’s hand? Show no pity? If this is not a sin, what is?

    “have you not the laws of Moses?” – JESUS (JOHN 1:17),
    “Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commands…shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven” – JESUS (Matthew 5:18-19)

  • @William Murphy,

    “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”
    Impossible when the sin in question is simply being born a certain way.
    It would be like calling blue eyes a sin. Bigoted, ignorant nonsense.

    “Homosexual behavior and divorce are affronts to God”
    Prove it. Homosexual behavior naturally occurs in almost all animals. If God doesn’t like it, why did he make it natural?

    “Governments….How do you define mistreat?”
    A government which threatens a person’s wellbeing for claiming their rights to speak and believe as they wish.

    “What should the Pope do?”
    House the migrants in the name of humanity – not in the name of Jesus.
    Then he should extradite Cardinal Bernie Law, kingpin of the Boston Priest Pedophile Network now living in the Vatican to US authorities because the Pope can claim no moral basis for any of his behaviors until he does.

  • P.S. John,

    “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one should be silent

    Then why are you not an Atheist?
    You have no idea whether a god exists. And so you cannot speak of its intentions.
    Yet you insist others bend to its laws?

    When one admits he does not know if Leprechauns exist
    He cannot simultaneously claim to believe in them.

  • P. S. John

    Atheist Max,Just remember that no one can deny something that cannot be known!
    John P. S.

  • P. S. John

    You seem to be a judge about things you don’t know!
    John P.S .

  • William P. Murphy

    Sin is an action or some cases intention.

    Homosexual behavior and divorce are affronts to God? Jesus specifically addressed divorce and the Bible contains several references to homosexual behavior: Sodom and Gomorrah being the most known: and no Biblical reference on homosexual behavior is positive. Animals are not human. God did not make it natural.

    House the migrants? Where and how? Can the Pope start taxing people?

    Extradite Bernard Law? Has Bernard Law been indicted?

  • Debbo

    Marco luxe, were you talking to me about OT sins?

    I didn’t mention them because it wasn’t necessary. Christianists focus on them exclusively, ad nauseum. It’s not like anyone is likely to be unaware. However, systemic capitalist sin is the other side of the coin, the side that is never up. It needs to be exposed to the light at least as much.

  • LNK

    Study the word of God by comparing scripture with scripture. God never commands evil, He only states what will happen through disobedience, because disobedience i.e. sin, separates one from God and invites the devil.

    Jeremiah 13:14 – happens as warnings from God after people fail again and again to listen to the prophet. The leaders had let people astray, they were worshiping Baal. 1 Samuel 15:3 – the Amaleks were a perverse culture, they performed child sacrifices and other things that were detestable (sexual sin) to God . Numbers 31:18 – they were to take as wives the young girls, not rape them.
    2 Samuel 12:11, the result of Davids sin in killing Uriah and taking his wife, Absalom David’s son takes David’s concubines. Again, this was the result of David’s sin. God warned him what would happen.

    God never commands evil but he warns again and again, as He is doing today. You did not mentioned Jeremiah 13:15 Hear and give ear; be not proud, for the Lord has spoken.

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