Pope Francis writes a letter to Jesuit Fr. James Martin explained his recent comments in an interview with AP that “being homosexual is not a crime”, saying that he refers to the Catholic doctrine that teaches that any sexual act outside of marriage is a sin.
By Vatican News
“I was just referring to Catholic moral teaching, which says that any sexual act outside of marriage is a sin.”
Pope Francis wrote these words in response to a letter from Father James Martin, SJ, who does his apostolate among the LGBTQ community in the United States.
The American Jesuit had written to the Holy Father after his recent interview with the Associated Press.
The response written by the Pope in Spanish was published on the Father Martin website, with an English translation.
It was already clear from the context of the interview that the Pope had talked about homosexuality, meaning in this case “homosexual acts” and not homosexuality itself.
In his letter, Pope Francis reiterated that his position is that of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as he had already said in his first interview with journalists on the flight back from Brazil in 2013 ( “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”).
Responding to Fr. Martin, the Pope insisted that, regarding the sin, “we must also consider the circumstances, which can decrease or eliminate the guilt”.
“He should have said ‘It is a sin, like any sexual act outside of marriage,'” added the Pope. “This is to talk about “the matter” of the sin, but we know well that Catholic morality not only takes into consideration the matter, but also evaluates the freedom and the intention; and this, for every kind of sin.”
Pope Francis continued in his letter to repeat that being homosexual is not a crime.
“I would say to anyone who wants to criminalize homosexuality that they are wrong,” he wrote. “In a television interview, where we spoke with a natural and conversational language, it is understandable that there would not be such a precise definition.”
There are more than 50 countries that support the possibility of legal sentences for homosexual people and some of these nations even employ the death penalty.
The Pope concluded his letter by assuring Fr. Martin praying for him and his work with the LGBTQ community.
“Please do the same for me,” he said.