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Pope Francis Clarifies Comments on Homosexuality to Jesuit LGBT+ Activist Father James Martin

(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 29.01.2023).- Stemming from the interview the Pope gave to AP, one of the questions focused on was the topic of homosexuality. Taking advantage of that question in particular, the LGBT+ activist and Jesuit priest James Martin sent a letter to the Pontiff with three questions. The letter begins by thanking him for the call to decriminalize homosexuality and then he asks: “Why did you decide to say this at this time?” Then the American activist stressed the confusion stemming from a part of the Pope’s comment to AP, that “being gay is a sin: which, of course, is not part of Church teaching. My feeling was that you were simply repeating what others might say hypothetically. So, do you think that simply being gay is a sin?” Finally, the Jesuit asks a third question: “What would you say to Catholic Bishops who still support the criminalization of homosexuality? 

Pope Francis’s historic call for the decriminalization of homosexuality worldwide is an immense step forward for #LGBTQ people, their families and all who love them. This is the first time that any Pope has made such a clear statement about this issue of life and death…

— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) January 25, 2023

Although the date of the letter sent by Martin to the Pope is not specified, it seems that it must be after January 25. Hence some media have shown the very prompt answer that the sender of the letter (on January 27) received, contrasting it with the answer never received by the Cardinals, who in the past also posed some questions, on another topic, to the same recipient. 

Here is the Pope’s answer to Outreach Editor James Martin, S.J.

* * *

R.F. James Martin, SJ

Dear Brother, 

Thank you for your letter.

It is not the first time that I speak of homosexuality and of homosexual persons.

And I wanted to clarify that it is not a crime, in order to stress that criminalization is neither good nor just. 

When I said it is a sin, I was simply referring to Catholic moral teaching, which says that every sexual act outside of marriage is a sin. Of course one must also consider the circumstances, which may decrease or eliminate fault. As you can see, I was repeating something in general. I should have said ”It is a sin, as is any sexual act outside of marriage.” This is to speak of “the matter’ of sin, but we know well that Catholic morality not only takes into consideration the matter, but also evaluates freedom and intention; and this, for every kind of sin. 

And I would tell whoever wants to criminalize homosexuality that they are wrong. 

In a televised interview, where we spoke with natural and conversational language, it is understandable that there would not be such precise definitions. 

I pray for you and for your work. Please do the same for me. 

May Jesus bless you and may the Holy Virgin protect you.