Pope should take action to support LGBT people

After his trip to Brazil, Pope Francis had a candid moment to reporters in which he said, regarding gay priests, “Who am I to judge?” Many are hailing this comment as a new day for the Roman Catholic Church, but the church has not demonstrated a serious change in their position on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender matters.

The pope’s comments are a good first step, but the pope and the Catholic Church still need to do more to accept everyone.

While the pope may have made his personal views clear on the matter, he will still need to enact reform in the church before gay clergy can feel accepted or safe. As the Associated Press pointed out, Pope Benedict XVI signed a document in 2005 stating that homosexual men have no place within the church. This wasn’t much of a surprise, because Benedict was a particularly conservative pope, even by the standards of the conservative Catholic Church. The remarks Pope Francis made while flying from Brazil are important, but they do not indicate doctrinal change, and do not go far enough in recognizing the need for gay priests to feel accepted in the clergy.

In the eyes of the church, there is still a stigma attached to homosexuality. Pope Benedict XVI said that ridding the church of gay priests would solve the child molestation problems, even though groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Psychological Association have repeatedly debunked the myth of a link between homosexuality and a desire to molest kids. That evidence, however, has not been acknowledged by the church, and those claims simultaneously deny an underlying psychological problem in sexual abusers; thus, wrongly indicting homosexual clergymen.

The Vatican later clarified the pope’s statements by saying that homosexual orientation was fine, but acting on an attraction to a person of the same sex was still a sin. So, theologically speaking, it makes complete sense for the pope to have no qualm with gay priests, because they must remain celibate. Both gay and straight priests who have sex are sinners. For Catholics who are not ordained, however, gay sex is still a sin. Effectively, the Pope hasn’t made any changes to Catholic doctrine by saying he will not judge gay priests, because the Bible does not condemn a person for having homosexual thoughts, only for acting on those thoughts.

The APA tells us that a person’s sexual orientation is randomly and genetically determined, just like gender. Gay priests have no more control over their earthly desires than anyone else. If the pope is willing to acknowledge that gay priests are valuable to the Church as long as they do not sin, then the same thought should extend to female priests. The fact that Pope Francis is unwilling to change the church’s stance on women demonstrates that he is not ready for change, and casts a pall over his statements about gay priests. The church has no legitimate reason to discriminate against any person for characteristics beyond their control, regardless of sexual orientation or gender.

In the Vatican’s clarifying statement, the church made it clear that gay sex is still a sin. There is no change from the text of Leviticus. For gay Catholics, this means that men and women who have sex with partners of the same gender are still committing a sin. Effectively, this means gay Catholics must remain celibate to be accepted by the Church. This is rather cruel of the church, to deny the physical representations of love for one part of the population. The church claims that “God is Love,” and often regards the act of lovemaking as one of the most sacred bonds between a man and a woman, so to deny that sacred bond for two men or two women is merciless. Effectively, this catches gay Catholics between the church and their partners, and forces them to choose one over the other.


Dan Morgan-Russell is a sophomore majoring in international relations (global business).

Follow him on Twitter @ginger_breaddan


5 replies
  1. Faithful Catholic USC student
    Faithful Catholic USC student says:

    Word to the wise (and this goes for pretty much every journalist out there nowadays): if you are going to write an opinion piece about the teachings of the Catholic Church, please PLEASE read (and understand) some official Church documents on whatever particular topic you’re writing about. The Church has rational, intelligent, and beautiful reasons for holding that marriage can only ever be between a man and a woman or that women cannot be priests. Unfortunately not many people, Catholic or not, will ever understand these positions fully because they do not read the actual Church documents or philosophical-theological works explaining the positions. Instead, they rely on single sentence summaries of Church teaching which can’t capture the reasoning or the fullness of the truth behind the position. Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “There are not more than 100 people in the world who truly hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they perceive to be the Catholic Church.”


  2. Honesty777
    Honesty777 says:

    This all goes against the teaching of our Church haven’t enough little boys been Molested by allowing Homosexual men in to the Priesthood?..I agree with Pope Benedict the XVI No Homosexual Priests ever !!!..We need to protect children!!!..Why isn’t the Baptist ,.Methodist ,Lutherans EXT.EXT.EXT. asked these questions as this is rampant in the Methodist church and Jewish Synagogues,Baptist youth groups and Lutherans as well ,Boy scouts loaded with it and these people with this problem and it is a huge problem go were they can molest Children ..What a better place then to become a Priest,Minister or Rabbi..Or Boy Scout leader but the media never mentions this blatant out rage within other places only the Catholic Church ..My Allegiance is with Pope Benedict the XVI,I love him and Pray for him he was just what our Church needed weeding out!!!..Pope Francis i will pray for his soul!!!

  3. chico889
    chico889 says:

    I trust that when the author eventually graduates, he will stick to international relations (global business) and stay out of journalism, especially religious journalim. Practically every sentence of his opinion piece manifests a naive, confused, if not a malevolent interpretation of the church’s official position. For example, the official teaching has always been that gays should be fully accepted as anyone else; and that we are not to judge one another’s culpability in any matters, sexual or otherwise. Neither has there ever been any confusion between pedophilia and homosexuality, even though a high proportion of the clerical molestation cases have involved boys in their mid- to late teens (even early twenties).

    Many Catholics (myself included) are strongly urging the church’s authorities to totally rethink their official teachings and practices around the so-called “pelvic issues” (divorce, contraception, gay relationships, celibacy, etc). Naive half-truths of the state of play in the church, such as this opinion piece, are not particularly helpful to our cause.

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