VATICAN CITY (RNS) A new book-length interview with Pope Francis gives fresh insight into his view of gay parishioners, marriage annulments and other hot topics being debated by Catholics globally.
The conversation, in Italian, between Francis and journalist Andrea Tornielli was published on Sunday (Jan. 10) under the title, “The Name of God Is Mercy,” and coincides with the Vatican’s Holy Year of Mercy which opened in December.
While the title theme is addressed at length, the pope also opens up on issues that have made headlines during his papacy. Here are some excerpts from the English translation:
“I am glad that we are talking about ‘homosexual people’ because before all else comes the individual person, in his wholeness and dignity. And people should not be defined only by their sexual tendencies: let us not forget that God loves all his creatures and we are destined to receive his infinite love.
“I prefer that homosexuals come to confession, that they stay close to the Lord, and that we pray all together. You can advise them to pray, show goodwill, show them the way, and accompany them along it.”
“I have a niece who was married to a man in a civil wedding before he received the annulment of his previous marriage. They wanted to get married, they loved each other, they wanted children, and they had three. The judge had even awarded him custody of the children from his first marriage. This man was so religious that every Sunday, when he went to Mass, he went to the confessional and said to the priest, ‘I know you can’t absolve me but I have sinned by doing this and that, please give me a blessing.’ This is a religiously mature man.”
Migrants and other vulnerable people:
“Reach out, know how to listen, advise them, and teach them through our own experience. By welcoming a marginalized person whose body is wounded and by welcoming the sinner whose soul is wounded, we put our credibility as Christians on the line.”
“Every time I go through the gates into a prison to celebrate Mass or for a visit, I always think: Why them and not me? I should be here. I deserve to be here. Their fall could have been mine. I do not feel superior to the people who stand before me. And so I repeat and pray: Why him and not me? It might seem shocking, but I derive consolation from Peter: he betrayed Jesus, and even so he was chosen.”
“The corrupt man gets angry because his wallet is stolen and so he complains about the lack of safety on the streets, but then he is the one who cheats the state by evading taxes, or else he fires his employees every three months so he doesn’t have to hire them with a permanent contract, or else he has them work off the books. And then he boasts to his friends about his cunning ways. He is the one who goes to Mass every Sunday but has no problem using his powerful position to demand kickbacks…. The corrupt man often doesn’t realize his own condition, much as a person with bad breath does not know they have it.”