The world is trying to figure out how much to read into Pope Francis’ answer to a reporter’s question on gay priests as he winged his way from Brazil to Rome:

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis said, speaking in Italian but using the English word “gay.”

David Gibson and Alessandro Speciale ask: “Did Pope Francis change church teaching on homosexuality?”

The biggest message that Francis sent, and the most substantial change he made, was in tone. Throughout his discourse there was none of the clinical, distancing talk of gays and lesbians as “objectively disordered.” Nor did Francis say, as Benedict did, that homosexuality “is one of the miseries of the church,” they write.

The Rev. Gary M. Meier, author of “Hidden Voices: Reflections of A Gay Catholic Priest,” responds to the pope’s comments with “cautious optimism” on CNN. And John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter calls Francis’ remarks “remarkable.”

On that same flight Francis says “no” to women priests: “the Church has spoken . . . that door is closed.” But “The Week” still asks if Francis is “the most liberal pope ever.”

Among the three million (three million!) Roman Catholics who journeyed to Copacabana Beach Saturday to hear Pope Francis was Fabio Mateus. He walked 1,850 miles to be there. (1,850 miles!) He started his journey on March 15.

He might want to book a flight for the next World Youth Day, however. The Vatican has just announced that it will be in Krakow, Poland, in 2016.

Don’t just doodle the pope on the back of an envelope. Enter your best portrait of Uncle Frank in Religion News Service’s “Pope Francis Art Contest.” You could win $100 . . . or less!

If you can’t draw, you can at least type your email into the box at the bottom of this page and subscribe to the RNS daily Religion News Roundup. It’s all the religion news you need to know, free.

Police in Washington, D.C. yesterday arrested a woman suspected of throwing green paint in two chapels at the Washington National Cathedral – the Bethlehem Chapel, and the Children’s Chapel. Some of the paint hit the cathedral’s organ, and similar green paint was found that same day at the base of a statue by the Smithsonian Castle, and Friday on the Lincoln Memorial.

The woman under arrest is believed to be homeless.

Silver-tongued Eric Metaxas has fascinated me ever since he keynoted the National Prayer Breakfast last year. Our Sarah Pulliam Bailey profiles the interdenominational evangelical, and considers the comparison to Chuck Colson.

A new law in North Carolina directs state officials to regulate abortion clinics based on the same standards as those for outpatient surgical centers, a change that critics say will force most to close.

A host of difficult issues face Israeli and Palestinian negotiators as they begin formal peace talk, but perhaps none will be as difficult to resolve as the status of Jerusalem – which both parties claim as their capital.

Omid Safi looks behind the astonishment at Fox News that a Muslim scholar has written a book on Jesus. That book, Reza Aslan’s much talked about “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” hit number one on Amazon after the author’s interview on the network.

Rep. Jim Moran, (D-Vir.), who recently toured Guantanamo, and wants to close it, said the following after his visit to the prison.

Rather than the Quran, the book that is requested most by the [high-value detainees] is Fifty Shades of Grey. They’ve read the entire series in English, but we were willing to translate it. I guess there’s not much going on, these guys are going nowhere, so what the hell.

An AP investigation has revealed that 10 Nazi suspects the U.S. had ordered deported never left the country, and remained eligible for Social Security and other benefits. In most cases no other nation would take them and four of them are still living in the U.S.

Some embarrassment for Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who discovered that his Church of England had invested indirectly in a short-term loan company which he had vowed only days earlier to drive out of business.

The AP writes about France’s escalating struggle to enforce secularism, as authorities and others condemn women who cover their face with veils. The next target: headscarves in the workplace.

Hundreds of Buddhists protested in predominantly Hindu Nepal, where the government has forbidden them from building a shrine in a protected area.

- Lauren Markoe

Categories: Beliefs

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe covered government and features as a daily newspaper reporter for 15 years before joining the Religion News Service staff as a national correspondent in 2011. She previously was Washington correspondent for The State (Columbia, S.C.)


  1. This statement by the pope on gay people and gay priests, combined with his frequent advocacy of mercy and his belief in the forgiveness of sins, prepares the way for him to keep the cleric named Ricca in his job as head of the Vatican Bank. Ricca lived as a homosexual when a Vatican diplomat in Uruguay, or so reliable reports say, but he has not done so in recent years. The case of Ricca may have been the proximate prod for his comments.

    Long term his comments mean three things and that’s it:

    1. Bishops are free to recruit gay men as priests, as long as they meet the usual standards and agree to live as celibates. This is what the Church of England does officially.

    2. Bishops have to treat gay priests nicely.

    3. Gay priests can be more open with their spiritual directors and superiors. This openness will be a protection against straying.

    4. This statement, although it simply repeats the official teaching of the Catholic church, has a tone that should make African Catholic allies of those who want to execute gays hesitate.

  2. John’s comments not withstanding & I do agree with much of it. I simply interpreted the Pope’s comments as a reflection of Christ’s multiple teachings on not judgeing others. The most “liberal” Pope ever? Maybe, but if that is the case we can only hope that future Pope’s follow his lead. I’m very definately not Catholic but I do find myself getting more and more impressed by this Pope. Seems that he actually has a heart of understanding and tolerance.

  3. Oh, speaking of being impressed, I also find myself more and more impressed by the writing of all the RNS authors. Though I have frequente criticism of religion in general and the American Christian church in particular I find myself eager to read the RNS Roundup almost every day! I say almost because there are days like yesterday where getting out of bed is the biggest challenge of the day. But, I saved the Monday roundup and read it today. Wouldn’t want to miss anything!

  4. Sad, a pope without conviction. Some things to think about:

    Behaviorally, homosexuality creates a high level of social turmoil beginning with public bathrooms, showers, dorm rooms and military barracks. Previously separated by gender to preserve personal privacy and eliminate sexual attraction, they now become a state of chaos when it’s not just opposites that attract. Moreover, consider the objections of couple subject to a “pat down” by a gay policeman, who violates their sexual privacy under the guise of the “law of non-discrimination”. Sexual privacy needs are afforded when an individual has adequate physical and visual separation from anyone attracted to their sex. By definition, homosexuals deny society of its sexual privacy, although they have no concept of their offense.

    As it affects health, homosexuals experience greater depression resulting from rejection by a majority of the population who oppose homosexually, amplified when impressionable children are exposed to a lifestyle parents abhor, and who recognize how it terminates their family legacies. Subsequently, parents of the bride expect to pay for the wedding of a straight couple with the thought of grandchildren in the years to come. In a disenchanted and unholy union, why are homosexuals surprised of their parents’ lack of support?

    On a biological level, homosexuality is dysfunctional, ignores that life is sexually transmitted and everyone acknowledges it’s contrary to the sexual orientation of their straight parents. Also, it introduces human waste into the reproduction system which is reprehensible. It raises the risk of acquiring AIDS/HIV, increases health care costs and shortens life spans. It’s like pounding in nails with a wrench, destroying the wrench and bending the nails. On a more elementary level, the plumbing and electrical professions identify different male and female fittings, knowing how they are designed to work, and that connecting two of the same yields disastrous results.

    Theologically, homosexuality is contrary to the Bible resulting in the gay community embracing atheism as it conflicts with their hedonistic lifestyle. Scriptural condemnation begins in Genesis with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and continues through Revelation. However, consider His grace reflected in I Corinthians 6::9 “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals,10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Rejecting His grace, we just become another Godless nation.

    More compelling verses:
    Leviticus 18:22
    “Do not practice homosexuality; it is a detestable sin.”

    And for raising children: Luke 17:2
    “It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.”

    While homosexuals seem rather intelligent, they create their own unnatural values, and fail to realize that no amount favorable legislation will provide a destiny better than that of the Sodomites and Benjaminites. Then again, history often shows that we don’t learn from our mistakes, much less from the gay diatribe to follow.

  5. So silly…

    I guess Pope didn’t consider the already happening possibility of sex change operations…. Leaving the door open for “fake women priests”

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