Five years ago, Pope Francis grabbed international headlines when he responded to a reporter’s in-flight question about gay priests by saying, “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?”
Media outlets, LGBT activists, and Catholics around the world speculated about whether this offhand remark, and casually unprecedented use of “gay” by the pontiff, signaled a significant break from the Vatican’s unequivocal condemnation of same-sex relationships, and more acceptance of LGBT people in the world’s largest Christian denomination. Even this publication celebrated the import of Pope Francis’ remark by naming him as its 2013 Person of the Year.
The Advcoate noted the comment’s potential for shaping the global response to LGBT people by writing, “The remaining holdouts for LGBT acceptance in religion, the ones who block progress in the work left to do, will more likely be persuaded by a figure they know. In the same way that President Obama transformed politics with his evolution on LGBT civil rights, a change from the pope could have a lasting effect on religion.”
However, in a book released in Italy on December 1, 2018, Pope Francis issues an explicitly negative judgment against gay and lesbian people in the Catholic priesthood and as members of religious communities of sisters and brothers. Media reports based on translation of the original Italian say that the Pope writes that gay and lesbian people should not apply for or be admitted to the Catholic priesthood or religious communities because “in consecrated and priestly life, there is no room for that kind of affection.” He also reportedly wrote, “In our societies it even seems that homosexuality is fashionable and that mentality, in some way, also influences the life of the church.”