The Pope’s gay-supportive words could change the church forever

Juan Carlos Cruz

Pope Francis has reportedly told a gay male survivor of clerical sexual abuse that his sexual orientation comes from God. Juan Carlos Cruz said that in a private meeting about the Chilean sexual abuse scandal, Pope Francis said, “Look Juan Carlos, the pope loves you this way. God made you like this and he loves you.”

As of this writing, the Vatican is declining to confirm or deny the remarks.

If this is indeed what the pope said, and if the Vatican does not issue a quick retraction, the door for significant changes in Catholic teaching on homosexuality and gender identity may have been opened. However, whether the reports will be allowed to stand without official “clarification” is doubtful, given the implications of the pontiff’s statements. I imagine that once the dogmatically orthodox members of the Catholic leadership and the more conservative Catholic groups understand the ramifications, the calls for this statement to be explained in a way consistent with current teaching will be swift and strong.

The pope saying that God created an individual as gay goes far beyond a pastoral statement of welcome, as many are characterizing the conversation. It sets a new foundation for Catholic teaching about sexual orientation that is very different than what has been traditionally stated. If God creates us with our sexual orientation — and gender identity* — as part of who we are, the doctrine that LGBTQI people are not part of God’s plan for humanity cannot stand. We can no longer be considered “objectively disordered,” and the church’s entire theology of human identity and relationships will need to be reconsidered.

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