New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan has taken steps to clarify that Pope Francis’ comments about a “gay lobby” in the Vatican have been misunderstood by gay-rights activists who claim that he made steps toward endorsing homosexual practice. When read in context, he said, the Pope was not deviating from the Catholic church’s stance on homosexual practice; rather, he was alluding to the grace that is available to those who struggle with same-sex attraction.
In an interview on his flight home from Brazil, Pope Francis was asked about whether there was an influential “gay lobby” in the Vatican. The Pope responded that he has never had anyone come up to him with the word “gay” written on his identification card, but that if he knew that someone in the church was struggling with same-sex attraction, he would not condemn them. “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” asked the Pope.
There is a distinction between those who practice homosexuality unashamedly and those who - with a repentant heart - are trying to defeat sin relating to same-sex attraction. Those who have truly received Christ as their Savior will be forgiven of any and all of their sins because Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for them.
In an interview with NBC News, Cardinal Dolan affirmed that the Pope’s comments did not deviate from the Catholic church’s stance on homosexual practice, though they may have served to change the tone of many toward those who struggle with same-sex attraction. “It is clear that homosexual people deserve love and respect, but homosexual acts are immoral,” he said. He reminded listeners that the Pope cannot change the church’s doctrine at will, but that he can try to emphasize certain parts of it. The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2357 states that, “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
In essence, Cardinal Dolan believes that Pope Francis was encouraging the church to show love toward those who struggle with same-sex attraction, and that he was not condoning homosexual practice. Those who are born again are new creations who desire to please the Lord and to abide by His word. Though believers still struggle with temptations to sin, the Holy Spirit helps us to war against them with humble, repentant hearts.