Pope Francis backs ‘conscientious objection’ to marriage licenses for gay …

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

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

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Monday government officials have a “human right” to refuse to discharge a duty, such as issuing marriage licenses to homosexuals, if they feel it violates their conscience.

Speaking to reporters as he returned home from a 10-day trip to the United States and Cuba, Francis also repeated his condemnation of priests who had sexually abused children, saying the victims had been “crushed by evil”.

Although the Argentine-born pontiff delved into some of the United States’ thorniest political debates during his visit, he never specifically referred to a controversy over same-sex marriages, which the Church firmly opposes.

READ: Kim Davis, Kentucky clerk in gay marriage dispute, switches to Republican Party

On the flight back to Rome, he was asked if he supported individuals, including government officials, who refuse to abide by some laws, such as issuing marriage licences to gays.

“Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right,” Francis said.

Earlier this month a city official in the U.S. state of Kentucky, Kim Davis, went to jail because she refused to issue a marriage licence to a gay couple following a Supreme Court decision to make homosexual marriage legal.

Davis’s case has taken on national significance in the 2016 presidential campaign, with one Republican contender, Mike Huckabee, holding rallies in favour of Davis, a Apostolic Christian, who has since joined the Republican party.

“I can’t have in mind all cases that can exist about conscientious objection but, yes, I can say that conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right,” he said, speaking in Italian.

“And if someone does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right,” he added.

Francis said conscientious objection had to be respected in legal structures. “Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying: ‘This right has merit, this one does not.'”

In the hour-long, freewheeling talk that has become a trademark of his papacy, the pope returned to the problem of priestly abuse. On Sunday, he met five victims of sexual abuse and issued his most comprehensive condemnation of the crime.

On the plane, Francis said sexual abuse was not confined to the Church but it was worse when committed by men of religion.

READ: ‘God weeps,’ says Pope Francis, calling for accountability on sex abuse crimes

“We know abuses are everywhere, in families, in the neighborhoods, in the schools, in the gyms, but when a priest abuses it is very grave because the vocation of the priest is to make that boy, that girl grow towards the love of God, toward maturity,” he said.

“But instead (the victim) is crushed by evil and this is nearly a sacrilege because the priest has betrayed his vocation, the calling of the Lord,” the pope said.

The pope had been fiercely criticized by abuse victims on Wednesday, after he initially addressed the scandal but did not utter the words “sexual abuse”, and praised American bishops for their handling of the crisis.

Asked about barriers being but up in Europe to stop the influx of migrants, the pope said: “All walls collapse, today, tomorrow or after 100 years, but they will collapse. Walls are not a solution.”

He said that while it was true that Europe was struggling in the face of a refugee crisis, the solution had to be found through dialogue. “Barriers last a short time or a long time, but the problem remains and with it, more hatred.”

A reporter said the pope had become a “star” in the United States following his visit to Washington, New York and Philadelphia, and asked if this was good for the Church.

“The media uses this term, but there is another truth – how many stars have we seen go out and fall. It is a fleeting thing. Instead being a ‘servant of the servants of God’ does not pass,” the pope said, referring to one of the titles of his office.

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  • ..and there is the reactionary pope we are supposed to expect. Any pretense he was somehow any different from the others was merely PR. It’s ironic that this is the same church which used to denigrate both democracy and “stands of conscience”.

    The idea that one takes cues about freedom and civil liberties by someone elected by a small elite and holds their position for life is laughable. Like asking the premier of China.

  • Larry, what do you expect the pope to say? You’re like a cattle rancher bellyaching about an animal rights group refusing to abandon vegetarianism.

  • Its more of a criticism to those who are overly optimistic about what the Pope has said in the past. Those who got their hopes up that he was somehow different from his predecessors. Of course he wouldn’t be. It was all hogwash.

  • That analogy would work if heterosexism were as central to Christianity as non-eating of meat is to veganism, but by any reasonable measure it certainly is not. Indeed it is so clearly not so that Jesus Christ himself never said one word about it. If it were, surely he would have. Or, if early church prelates were as whacked out by sex as America’s right wing is, surely they would have inserted it into the scriptures.

  • Jesus Christ didn’t come to write a bible, he came to build a church. The Bible is just the “cliff notes” of his church. Still, you might want to check out Matthew 19:4-5.

  • Pope Francis Believes In Theocracy Like Bin Laden, ISIS and those who arrived on the continent prior to the Founding Fathers, who the Founding Fathers tried to curb their religious extremism, knowing it does not create a successful country. The more religious, the more oppression, inequality, unhappiness!

  • You’re assuming homosexuality was a “thing” back in the time of Jesus. The whole self-identity through sexuality would be foreign to them. It’s a classic issue that gets in the way of proper historical criticism: presentism, a form of anachronism.

    It’s hard to take you seriously at this point, especially when you neglected to consider the following. Jesus was very open about changing laws that conflicted with the new teachings he was establishing. Since homosexuality was NOT accepted and Jesus did NOT seek to change it, ever, not once (as you rightfully point out), it follows that he agreed with it. If you would like to disagree with that conclusion, then it is up to you to find just where Jesus said “homosexuality, contrary to current law, is acceptable”. Good luck…

  • He is different from other Popes. What you are seeking is not a different Pope, but a different message. That’s not how it works. Catholics don’t believe the Pope has the authority to change truth. He may change the way we teach it (that is how he is different), or introduce new dogma ABOUT the truth, but he cannot take something that “is” and say “it is not”.

    “holds their position for life” Is this self-refutation, a mistake, an early morning? Benedict just stepped down… it’s not for life.

    To be frank, I would expect the Catholic Church to change far sooner than you would change your views. You say you laugh, but I find it hilarious that you are expecting the rest of the world to adapt to you without any real reason why.

    You last points make no sense to me. Democracy has long been considered as one of the worst regimes ever. Read chapter 8 of the Republic or DeTocqueville critique on it. Then refute their valid points. No? Stick with your opinions, I’ll take…

  • Denigrate democracy? I assume you are talking about the illegitimate Obergefell decision? The illegitimate Obergefell decision, which undermines our constitutional government, will be overturned.

  • No. Antipathy towards American democracy and democratic reforms in other nations by the Catholic church goes back much further. This is the same church which underwrote the last fascist regime in Europe and collaborated with Latin American despots.

    Hey Chris, if the anti-gay crowd could have come up with rational and secular reasons for gay marriage bans, they would not have lost their case in court. The only reason you think the decision is somehow illegitimate is because you no longer have a right to attack gays under color of law.

    The understanding of Constitution law by people who make remarks such as yours is non existent.

  • So you are just making a stab in the dark based on lack of evidence and using your own extra-biblical take on interpreting the scripture to excuse a long standing prejudice.

    Jesus also did not condemn slavery, yet Christians these days attribute its abolition to his teachings. People obviously fill in their own blanks here to cough up whatever interpretation fits their needs. Your need to excuse prejudice against gays gives you your interpretation, affirming churches look elsewhere.

  • The American colonists were far less religious than our nation is today. Only about 17% professed any religious affiliation at all. The founders were not interested in “curbing” anyone’s religious extremism but ensuring that everyone be free to practice as they please without government involvement. James Madison noted, and subsequent history demonstrated, that religion flourishes in greater purity when free of both government patronage and interference.

  • Oh? Why is that? You continue to take Max seriously and he periodically pastes a quote from Adams which is truncated in precisely the same manner.

    A cookie if you can guess which one it is… 😀

  • Actually I usually skip Max’s a lot of posts and let him duke it out with you or anyone else willing to take the bait. Kind of like what you do for some of the more offensive Christian fundamentalist posters.

    But its nice that you are paying homage to Max anyway. 🙂

    Any more personal attacks I should expect?

  • Luke, homosexuality WAS a “thing” in Jesus’ day (the Midrash Rabbah Genesis, which was oral tradition at the time and committed to writing a couple centuries later) refers to SSM explicitly, and other 1st century Jewish writers spoke of same-sex behavior quite matter-of-factly. However, it was just one of several varieties of “fornication” listed in Leviticus 20–all of them having in common the departure from God’s original creation design which Jesus described in Matt. 19. He certainly spoke of fornication in the gospels (Matt. 15 and Mark 7), and as His audience was made up of teachers of Jewish law it makes sense to conclude that He meant the same thing by that as what they would have understood.

    But otherwise I agree…if Jesus had meant to separate out homosexual behavior from all the other forms of fornication and OK it one would think He would have said something to that effect, considering it was a capital offense under the Torah.

  • Aw, gee, I was hoping you’d come up with the quote…

    So now both you and Ben claim not to read Max. Anybody here want to claim him?

  • “The founders were not interested in “curbing” anyone’s religious extremism”

    The Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment and the ban on religious tests of Article IV of the Constitution say otherwise. The separation of church and state (The Establishment Clause) and ban on religious tests came directly as a comment against abuses created official government sanctioned churches from the Massachusetts Bay Colony to Revolution.

    There were enough examples of attacks on religious freedom by extremists in colonial history to know that such things are to be curbed if one is to maintain all other forms of freedom.

    One cannot be free to practice as they please without government involvement unless the government avoids endorsement of any given faith and purely sectarian beliefs. Like many of a theocratic bent, you acknowledge free exercise without recognizing its twin of official religious neutrality. When state and religion are entangled both are cheapened.

  • To all who are disappointed with what the Pope said and did – get over yourselves.
    Christ said Himself that He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill the law.
    Most Jews at the time of Christ – especially the Pharisees and Saducees, would have known what Christ was talking about. You can find out exactly what God thinks of homosexuality in Leviticus, the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, and several of St. Paul’s letters. Possibly elsewhere, ‘though it would be less explicit. Christ wouldn’t have needed to reiterate what God thought about homosexuality.
    Someone mentioned about the Church not doing anything about the Nazis. What did you expect the Church to have done? The Nazis were very real, very evil, very dangerous, very powerful. The Church HAD to be careful.
    The Church doesn’t conform to your wishes. The Church, as someone else pointed out, only teaches truths, The Pope may explain truths differently than a previous Pope, but he will still teach the same truths.