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Archbishop Pinder: Pope Francis’ comments on gays ‘refreshing’

Catholic teaching calls for homosexuals to be treated with dignity and not marginalized
  • Archbishop Patrick Pinder.

Guardian Lifestyles Editor

Published: Aug 01, 2013

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Pope Francis struck a conciliatory stance towards gays when he asked: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” And that people should not be marginalized for their sexual orientation. He said “they must be integrated into society” during an extraordinary 82-minute exchange with reporters aboard his plane returning from his first papal trip to celebrate World Youth Day in Brazil.

It’s a sentiment Archbishop of Nassau Patrick Pinder says is a “refreshing one”, but that it should be noted that the pope prefaced his statement by saying the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the official statement of the church’s teaching is very clear about what it has to say. Catholic teaching calls for homosexuals to be treated with dignity and not marginalized.

“I think he emphasized that these people should not be marginalized,” said Pinder. “And I think that has been pretty much the theme of his pontificate so far that nobody is to be marginalized. And I think in terms of an approach, it’s certainly a refreshing one.”

While the comments did not signal a change in Catholic teaching that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered”, they indicated a shift in tone under Francis’ young papacy and an emphasis on a church that is more inclusive and merciful rather than critical and disciplinary.

Francis’ stance contrasts markedly with that of Benedict who signed a document in 2005 that said men who had deep-rooted sexual tendencies should not be priests.

Gay leaders around the world were reportedly buoyed by Francis’ approach saying the change in tone was progress in itself, although for some the encouragement was tempered by Francis’ talk of gay clergy’s “sins”.

Pinder said he had not gotten a lot of reaction at home to the pope’s statement but he believes people understand his statement in its context.

“This is not any kind of earth-shaking change in the church’s position,” he said. “It’s basically a whole new approach … and I think it’s warm, it’s welcoming, it’s inviting. What he (pope) has really been saying is there are options and ways in which we can approach our ministry that are open to us without in any way being any radical disjuncture from what we firmly believe. And I think that’s what he’s seeking to do, and what he’s done very well, and it’s been good. And I think that has been pretty much the theme of his pontificate so far – that nobody is to be marginalized. And I think in terms of its approach, it’s certainly a refreshing one.”

Francis’ comments came during his first news conference as pope. And they were wide-ranging and open, touching on everything from the greater role he believes women should have in the Catholic Church to the troubled Vatican Bank. Francis did not dodge a single query.

He said he wanted a greater role for women in the church, though he insisted “the door is closed” to ordaining them as priests.

Asked about his thoughts on the theology of women’s role in the Catholic Church, Pinder said that he could never say anything contrary to the Holy Father and agreed that no one baptized is to be alienated from the life of the church. He said that was the underlying emphasis of Francis’ ministry has been good.

Many people around the world are viewing Francis as someone who is restoring the credibility of Catholicism with his openness, and displays of simplicity like boarding a plane carrying his own black bag, an unusual break with Vatican protocol and a style that separates him from previous pontiffs.

“His (Francis’) papacy has been good so far, but I think it will take more than just a couple of months for the papacy to restore what you may refer to as credibility. I believe the measure of his papacy will have to be over a longer period. But I think he has brought a whole new style to the exercise of the ministry,” said the archbishop.

Pinder said the new and engaging style that Francis has brought with him to the office has been wonderful, and that because of the pope’s actions and words, the world has become infatuated with him.

He (Pope) has brought a whole new and engaging exercise to the office, and I think that’s all for the good, and I think that’s wonderful. He has a very warm and endearing style [and] you’ve seen that in so many of his actions and words and I think that’s very important to seek to get people to understand that the message of the Gospel is something that’s warm; that’s inviting,” he said.

Pinder, who has yet to meet the Holy Father as yet, said he is looking forward to the official visit he will have with him next year when he visits Vatican City.

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