Pope Francis on Monday in a shocking turnaround from past papal leaders denied the existence of a “gay lobby” at the Vatican Francis saying that he had investigated the reports and found them groundless. He added that while such a lobby would be an issue, but that he would not judge gay priests for their sexual orientation. “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
From The Associated Press,
Pope Francis reached out to gays on Monday, saying he wouldn’t judge priests for their sexual orientation in a remarkably open and wide-ranging news conference as he returned from his first foreign trip. “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis asked. While stressing Catholic social teaching that calls for homosexuals to be treated with dignity and not marginalized, Francis said it was something else entirely to conspire to use private information for blackmail or to exert pressure. Francis was responding to reports that a trusted aide was involved in an alleged gay tryst a decade ago. He said he investigated the allegations according to canon law and found nothing to back them up. But he took journalists to task for reporting on the matter, saying the allegations concerned matters of sin, not crimes like sexually abusing children.
Now before people start jumping up and down celebrating Pope Francis’ statement let me add this. In context and with backstory much of the Popes statement had to do not only with reports of a “gay lobby” inside the Vatican but also in connection to the Pope’s hiring of Monsignor Battista Ricca, who has been charged with cleaning out the stables at the scandal-struck Vatican bank. Ricca has been connected to major “gay scandals” within the Vatican including recently being caught stuck in an elevator with a “rentboy” and in 2001 when taking a diplomatic posting in Uruguay Monsignor Ricca brought and lived openly with his lover, Patrick Haari, a Swiss army captain,, much to the outrage of church figures and locals in the conservative South American nation.
All of this was unbeknownst to Pope Francis when he put Ricca in charge of the Vatican bank.
So at least for now the sincerity of the Popes statement should not be taken at (gay) face value.