Pope Francis Said What?

Homily for Thursday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time

Throughout his time as Pope, John Paul II consistently told us to not be afraid to follow Christ; he challenged us to not be afraid to proclaim the Gospel in our words, our actions, and our thoughts. He continually called us to strive to share the Truth of our faith with the world in every aspect of our lives, using whatever means necessary.

JPII once said: “This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel. It is the time to preach it from the rooftops. Do not be afraid to break out of comfortable and routine modes of living in order to take up the challenge of making Christ known in the modern metropolis.”

One thing JPII never said was that that challenge would be easy. And that’s exactly what the Lord reminds us of in today’s Gospel. The message of Truth is always one that will spark division.

You may have heard some news regarding Pope Francis yesterday and “endorsing” same-sex civil unions in an Italian documentary that was released the other day. I must admit, initially, I was more than a little concerned about the Pope’s comments. But, after watching the Holy Father’s statement and listening to voices much wiser than my own, I wanted to take some time to offer some clarification.

The Pope was not changing an official position of the Church. And I firmly believe that the Holy Father was misunderstood. It seems like he was talking about the need for civil laws to protect the human dignity and legal rights of those who are suffering from same-sex attraction. Now, we will hopefully have some kind of clarifying statement from the Vatican either today or tomorrow. We’ll have to wait and see. But, even in the midst of this, take to heart the message of Pope John Paul II, do not be afraid to stand up for the Truth even when it seems like the world and the Church is giving into chaos. Even when you know that your embracing of the Truth might cause those around you to attack you because of it.

I’d like to touch on 5 points…most of which have been plagiarized (fair warning):

1. Most importantly: Persons are who attracted to other people of the same sex, even those who may identify as part of the LGBTQ community are beloved children of the Father. They are loved by God and by us and they have a place in the Catholic Church and in the human family.

2. Marriage can only take place between a man and a woman in a permanent union open to the procreation of children. Same-sex marriage is an impossibility (note the change now between union and marriage. That’s important). The Church will never approve of same-sex marriage…because it can’t.

3. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2358) teaches the following: “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” In this regard, some Catholics, including Pope Francis, have suggested that some kind of civil law could be enacted to help with issues like hospital visitation, estate transfers, and other legal nuance that I’m not well versed in.

4. The Pope has not changed the teachings of the Church. He has expressed an opinion. Popes can be wrong in their opinions especially when speaking off the cuff. They do not have infallible opinions. Catholics are free to agree or disagree with the Holy Father’s opinion in this regard.

5. Finally, our primary duty as Catholics is to foster our relationship with Jesus Christ. As Christians, we must continue to pour out our hearts and souls to him, affirming that He, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” The battle is won, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

In conclusion, hold fast to your faith in Jesus Christ. He is our anchor which keeps up grounded, even when holding firm to that faith leads to division amongst family members and friends. Pray for those who are struggling over this news from the Holy Father. But remember, even in the midst of chaos and confusion – thrown into the time around a visceral election – Jesus Christ is Lord. Jesus Christ is Lord.

Published by Fr. Tom Pringle

Priest of the Diocese of Orlando. Parochial Vicar at Holy Family Catholic Church, Orlando.

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