Buffalo's Bishop, Richard Malone, is commenting on the eyebrow-raising statement Pope Francis made Monday regarding homosexuals.
The Pope, speaking to reporters on an airplane, said "If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge that person?" Advocates for gay rights are calling the statement a significant milestone for the Church.
Malone says it is important to understand Pope Francis is talking about gay persons, not gay behavior. He says the Church does not define or label people in terms of their sexual orientation and is open to all people.
At the same time, Bishop Malone re-asserts the Church's belief that all sexual activity belongs within the marriage of a man and a woman. He says homosexuals are welcome in the Church and encouraged, like all, to like a chaste life.
The complete statement is as follows:
It is important to understand that when we hear the Pope saying he cannot “judge” gays, he is talking about the persons, not behavior. He is talking about priests who may be homosexual, but is assuming that they are chaste. And if they have sinned, they are repentant and now chaste. Priests make a lifelong commitment to live a chaste celibate life, and candidates for the priesthood need to be able to live a life of chaste celibacy, whether they are homosexual or heterosexual. If someone is not capable with God’s help of living a lifelong commitment to celibate chastity, he should not be a priest.
The Roman Catholic Church does not define or label people in terms of their sexual orientation. The Church is open to all people and recognizes their innate dignity as children of God. The Church also believes that all sexual activity, properly and exclusively, belongs within the marriage of a man and a woman. Outside of that context, sexual relations are viewed as being objectively immoral. The Catechism of the Catholic Church #2358 says that homosexual persons “must be accepted with compassion, respect and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination must be avoided.” Homosexuals are welcome in the Church and encouraged like all to live a chaste life.