During an airborne press conference as he returned from his papal visit to Brazil, Pope Francis raised the hopes of some when he said that he would not judge priests who were gay.
“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis asked.This is a bit of an improvement from his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who thought that homosexual men should not be priests at all. It's more in line with Christian charity and with science.
Other notable items from the presser:
Francis said he had investigates allegations that one of his monsignors was involved in a scandalous gay tryst a decade ago, but found nothing to back them up. I hope hope he looked really hard, and didn't just have the Curia "investigate."
The planned Dec. 8 canonizations of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII will likely be postponed — perhaps until the weekend after Easter — because road conditions in December would be dangerously icy for Poles traveling to the ceremony by bus. I still wish he wold wait 50 years to canonize JPII, but...
Francis said the Church would be “sterile” without women. He said that the church must develop a more profound role for women in the church, though he said “the door is closed” to ordaining women to the priesthood. This is not great news, but at least there is still a door. He hasn't bricked it up yet.
He beat up on a Vatican accountant accused of plotting to smuggle $26 million from Switzerland to Italy.“There are saints” in the Vatican bureaucracy, he said, but the accountant wasn’t among them.
About closing the Vatican bank, accused of being used as an offshore tax haven to launder money, Francis said: “I don’t know how this story will end.” But he stressed that whatever the future of the institution -- be it "a bank, an aid fund or whatever it is," its characteristics will be "are transparency and honesty.”I liken Francis to President Obama, who came into office on the pent-up hopes of millions of Americans for change. Obama found his grands plans hamstrung, by the realities of a faltering economy, from going after the crooks who crashed the economy in 2008. His first priority was to stabilize the system, get Americans working again, and get Wall Street settled. Only now, in his fifth year as president are we seeing a few charges against the most egregious hedge fund managers and their ilk. Likewise, Francis inherited a church in fiscal and moral free fall, with the pilots and passengers clutching their glutes in sheer terror. Whatever his intentions (and I don't suspect they are excessively progressive) he has to calm the crew, get the craft out of its nosedive and level its flight path. Only then, when naked survival has been assured, can he begin to address the myriad other problems that bedevil the church: shrinking numbers, an increasingly vicious and exclusionary right wing, and the issues that have the Church painted into a corner: sexual ethics, women and married priests, clericalism and the absolute bans on contraception and abortion.
Progress in the Roman church may be coming, but it will come slowly and fitfully: one-sixteenth of an inch at a time.