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A Note on the Pope’s Remarks to Journalists en route to Rome


Journalists cropped

In response to many messages and calls earlier today regarding Pope Francis’ meeting with journalists aboard the return flight to Rome from Rio de Janeiro last night, below is a working transcript of the question about Monsignor Ricca and the gay lobby. I have included the question and the full answer of the Pope in English and the original Italian, as well as the full paragraph from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on homosexuality to which the Pope referred.

The powerful and deeply moving visit of Pope Francis to Brazil last week left a deep and lasting impression upon this country as well as on the continent and the entire world.  We encountered in the Bishop of Rome a shepherd “who knows the odor of his sheep,” a bearer of hope and peace, and an extraordinary pastoral model of tenderness and mercy.  He stressed the necessity of mercy throughout his visit, and reached out to so many people on the peripheries of society.  This was especially evident through his visit to the favela, the hospital and drug rehabilitation centre for young people, the meeting with young prisoners, the concern for the sick, and for young people who are broken.  He also showed how much he stands in solidarity with those living in extreme poverty and struggling for justice and peace.

His comments on the plane, particularly about the divorced and remarried, women, and homosexuals must be read and understood through the lenses of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the outreach and concern of the Church for those on the fringes, and the mercy, tenderness and forgiveness of a pastor who walks among his people.

The Question to Pope Francis from Ilse, a journalist on the Papal flight

Ilse: I would like to ask permission to pose a rather delicate question.  Another image that went around the world is that of Monsignor Ricca and the news about his personal life.  I would like to know, your Holiness, what will be done about this question.  How should one deal with this question and how does your Holiness wish to deal with the whole question of the gay lobby?

The Pope’s Answer

Regarding the matter of Monsignor Ricca, I did what Canon Law required and did the required investigation.  And from the investigation, we did not find anything corresponding to the accusations against him.  We found none of that.  That is the answer.  But I would like to add one more thing to this: I see that so many times in the Church, apart from this case and also in this case, one  looks for the “sins of youth,” for example, is it not thus?, And then these things are published.  These things are not crimes.  The crimes are something else: child abuse is a crime.  But sins, if a person, or secular priest or a nun, has committed a sin and then that person experienced conversion, the Lord forgives and when the Lord forgives, the Lord forgets and this is very important for our lives.  When we go to confession and we truly say “I have sinned in this matter,” the Lord forgets and we do not have the right to not forget because we run the risk that the Lord will not forget our sins, eh?  This is a danger.  This is what is important: a theology of sin.  So many times I think of St. Peter: he committed one of the worst sins denying Christ.  And with this sin they made him Pope.  We must think about fact often.

But returning to your question more concretely: in this case [Ricca] I did the required investigation and we found nothing.  That is the first question.  Then you spoke of the gay lobby.  Agh… so much is written about the gay lobby.  I have yet to find on a Vatican identity card the word gay.  They say there are some gay people here.  I think that when we encounter a gay person, we must make the distinction between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of a lobby, because lobbies are not good.  They are bad.  If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge that person?  The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this point beautifully but says, wait a moment, how does it say, it says, these persons must never be marginalized and “they must be integrated into society.”

The problem is not that one has this tendency; no, we must be brothers, this is the first matter.  There is another problem, another one: the problem is to form a lobby of those who have this tendency, a lobby of the greedy people, a lobby of politicians, a lobby of Masons, so many lobbies.  This is the most serious problem for me. And thank you so much for doing this question. Thank you very much!

Original transcript in Italian

(Ilse): Vorrei chiedere il permesso di fare una domanda un po’ delicata: anche un’altra immagine ha girato un po’ il mondo, che è stata quella di mons. Ricca e delle notizie sulla sua intimità. Vorrei sapere, Santità, cosa intende fare su questa questione? Come affrontare questa questione e come Sua Santità intende affrontare tutta la questione della lobby gay?

(Papa Francesco): Quello di mons. Ricca: ho fatto quello che il Diritto Canonico manda a fare, che è la investigatio previa. E da questa investigatio non c’è niente di quello di cui l’accusano, non abbiamo trovato niente di quello. Quella è la risposta. Ma io vorrei aggiungere un’altra cosa su questo: io vedo che tante volte nella Chiesa, al di fuori di questo caso ed anche in questo caso, si va a cercare i “peccati di gioventù”, per esempio, no?, e questo si pubblica. Non i delitti, eh? I delitti sono un’altra cosa: l’abuso sui minori è un delitto. No, i peccati. Ma se una persona, laica o prete o suora, ha fatto un peccato e poi si è convertito, il Signore perdona e quando il Signore perdona, il Signore dimentica e questo per la nostra vita è importante. Quando noi andiamo a confessarci e diciamo davvero “Ho peccato in questo”, il Signore dimentica e noi non abbiamo il diritto di non dimenticare, perché abbiamo il rischio che il Signore non si dimentichi dei nostri [peccati] eh?  E’ un pericolo quello. Quello è importante: una teologia del peccato. Tante volte penso a San Pietro: ha fatto uno dei peggiori peccati, che è rinnegare Cristo, e con questo peccato lo hanno fatto Papa. Dobbiamo pensare tanto.

Ma tornando alla Sua domanda più concreta: in questo caso, ho fatto l’ivestigatio previa e non abbiamo trovato. Questo è la prima domanda. Poi, Lei parlava della lobby gay: mah… si scrive tanto della lobby gay. Io ancora non ho trovato mi dia la cartella d’identità in Vaticano con “gay”. Dicono che ce ne sono. Credo che quando uno si trova con una persona così, deve distinguere il fatto di essere una persona gay dal fatto di fare una lobby, perché le lobby tutte non sono buone. Quello è il cattivo. Se una persona è gay e cerca il Signore e ha buona volontà, ma chi sono io per giudicarla? Il catechismo della Chiesa cattolica spiega tanto bello questo, ma dice,  Aspetta un po’, come si dice…e dice “non si devono emarginare queste persone per questo, devono essere integrate in società”. Il problema non è avere questa tendenza, no: dobbiamo essere fratelli, perché questo è uno, ma se c’è un altro, un altro, il problema è fare lobby di questa tendenza o lobby di avari, lobby di politici, lobby dei massoni, tante lobby. Questo è il problema più grave per me. E La ringrazio tanto per aver fatto questa domanda. Grazie tante!

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

2358    The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.


  1. Thank you Father for an accurate, objective & thruthful account. It is truly refreshing to be able to read his Holiness’ actual words with the question asked, as opposed to various subjective interpretations on Church teaching.

  2. Rosemary says:

    “Sins of youth”? Msgr. Ricca’s transgressions were the “sins of youth”? If this translation is correct, then the briefing was even worse than I thought. Giving Ricca a slap on the wrist sends a clear message that penance is pointless.

    I certainly forgive Msgr. Ricca but giving him this plummy position makes it look like her is being rewarded for, er, something. It is perplexing and makes it look like Pope Francis is trying to play both sides of the aisle.

  3. Um, where is that part of the catechism he mentions about their needing to be “integrated into society”? That’s actually, perhaps, quite a different perspective than what the catechism says: “Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” Arguably it is the same thing in fact; but, if nothing else, it’s the difference between ‘the glass half empty and half full.’

    Avoiding unjust discrimination is one thing. We can talk about different kinds of discrimination in that case. Only the unjust kind is bad. Which discriminations are unjust in relation to gays? Which are just?

    But their needing to be “integrated into society….”….that is to look at things differently. We are not just to ask, “is this kind of discrimination ok?” No; now we are to ask, “is this action consistent with their being integrated into society?” And that, I think, opens the door to DISallowing some kinds of discrimination, even if such discrimination is appropriate.

    And, I can’t say if that is a good or a bad thing. But I know the liberals are thrilled by what they think it means.

  4. Lisa De Ruyter says:

    I think this will help us better understand these priest who are a priest forever and what the Pope is doing here…….quote: “The text, which was approved by Pope Benedict at the end of August, says that homosexual men should not be admitted to seminaries even if they are celibate, because their condition suggests a serious personality disorder which detracts from their ability to serve as ministers.

    Priests WHO HAVE ALREADY BEEN ordained, if they suffer from homosexual impulses, are strongly urged to RENEW their dedication to chastity, and a manner of life appropriate to the priesthood. ” http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/getstory.asp?number=60630

  5. Lisa De Ruyter says:

    I think that Pope Francis was saying that the so called gay people, might have to fight tendencies, but the are still our “brothers”…and God doesn’t identify them as being gay (for that is what the church teaches). For God created us male and female, children of God, heirs of heaven. Referring to the Pope’s words here: quote: “I have yet to find on a Vatican identity card the word gay.” For instance though, the Pope invites all the divorced and remarried people (our brother’s and sisters) to come to Mass, but he instucts them not to receive Holy Communion, because he knows they are not in the state of grace. I am sure if these so called, gay people were so called married, he would tell them also to not receive, because this would also indicate, that they are in grave sin. http://saltandlighttv.org/blog/world-youth-day/a-note-on-the-popes-remarks-to-journalists-en-route-to-rome

  6. David Brandt says:

    The fact that the press is running with one aspect of church teaching is good.

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