Pope Francis didn’t hold back about his concerns regarding the sexuality of potential priests.
The pontiff stated unequivocally that homosexual men should not be admitted into the Catholic clergy and gay priests should practice celibacy or leave the church, saying “there’s no room for that kind of affection” in priestly life.
In a book-length interview with Fernando Prado, a Spanish priest, released in Italy on Saturday, Francis describes homosexuality as “fashionable,” adding “that mentality, in some way, also influences the life of the church,” according to The Guardian.
The pope says he “worries” of the “serious matter” of homosexuality in the priesthood, warning gay clergy to be “impeccably responsible” by remaining committed to living in “celibacy with integrity.”
Francis’ comments strike a different tone with earlier statements he has made about sexual orientation and openness to inclusion. In May, Francis reportedly told Juan Carlos Cruz, one of the main whistleblowers in the Chilean Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, that his sexual orientation “does not matter,” adding that “God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care.”
Back in 2013, early on in his time as pontiff, Francis said that, “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” At the time, he pledged not to judge priests based on their sexual orientation.
Francis’ statements come after the recent sex abuse revelations uncovered by prosecutors following multiple, years-long investigations, scandals which have consumed the church.
Former US Cardinal Thomas McCarrick became the first in his position to resign in almost a century following multiple, substantiated allegations of sexual abuse on minors. The Catholic Church pledged to end the “culture of cover-up” when accepting McCarrick’s resignation.
In Chile, the church was forced to apologize for the implementation of a bizarre set of guidelines for preventing sexual abuse. Guidelines included asking priests not to “touch the area of the genitals or the chest” of minors, kiss them on the mouth, spank them on the buttocks or “lie down to sleep next to boys, girls or teenagers.”
The pope’s handling of the scandal came under scrutiny after allegations surfaced of attempts to cover up sex abuse claims by Francis and other top Vatican officials.
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