[Re-posting from Ansel Beluso on his public post on Facebook]
To homosexuals who see nothing wrong with the lifestyle they pursue, I have only the highest respect for the choice and decision you have made with your life – even though, sadly, I disagree with it. I just hope you can also find it in you to similarly respect the choice and decision of those who seek a different path – even though, sadly, you disagree with it. To Christian homosexuals desiring change, believe that God has sown deep within you the seed of renewal and restoration. There is hope. Believe you can do it by the grace of the Lord. And know that when you seek God with all your heart, He Himself will give you the grace to find Him.
Having said that, may I also further say this…
In July 2013, responding to questions from reporters aboard the papal plane after the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis said, “If a person is gay, and searches for God and has good will, who am I to judge?”
Activist gays are wont to cut short the papal statement: “If a person is gay, who am I to judge?” They conveniently delete the qualifying phrase: “…and searches for God and has good will…”
The two qualifiers are crucial in understanding the pope’s message because they define the kind of gay person he was referring to when he rhetorically asked, “Who am I to judge?”
1. When a person searches for God, he acknowledges his sinfulness; and the reason he searches for God is because he desires healing and liberation from his sinfulness. If the gay person does not acknowledge his sinfulness, his searching for God cannot possibly be authentic. Why will one search for God if he believes he is sinless and, therefore, has no need for forgiveness that results in healing, liberation – and redemption?
2. On the second point, Pope Francis referred to “will” – specifically, “good will” – not “goodwill.” When a person has good will, he desires to do the Will of his Maker. This desire flows from the thirst to be one with God who created him in His divine image and likeness. If a person’s desire is to live out the ways of the world and thereby ignore the Way of the Lord, he cannot possibly be proceeding from a good will.
This is what the Holy Father meant. He was referring to gays who desire to change and be healed by the Lord – quite clearly not to gays who not only live out the sinful lifestyle unrepentantly but actually want to propagate the gay agenda on the world and thereby impose their (im)morality on others.
Now, it also needs to be said that the pope was actually addressing his statement to those Catholics who, in their misplaced zealousness, are the biggest persecutors of gays – not the gays who, instead of desiring change in their lives want the pope to change Church teaching on homosexuality. Pope Francis punctuated his statement with: “We shouldn’t marginalize people for this. They must be integrated into society.” Quite clearly, he was talking to Catholic persecutors of gays, wasn’t he? Quite clearly too, his statement is consistent with his call to New Evangelization in mercy and compassion.
My humble take on this is:
1. We Catholics must consciously work to avoid marginalizing gays and labor to integrate them into society. So, no more of the breast-beating self righteousness whenever we scare gays with the wrath of God in our Pharisaic stance of forcing them to repent.
2. Our posture must always flow from Christian love – unconditional mercy and compassion. We must constantly remind ourselves that repentance cannot be forced. It is purely by grace from the Holy Spirit. It is just sad when there are those who choose not to accept it.
3. What do we do with unrepentant gays? We pray for them. We definitely should not fight them in the same way they fight us. We use active silence as a weapon – which means we try to inspire them to follow Christ with the way we do it in our own life. When called to speak out the Truth, we do so not just courageously but mercifully and compassionately as well. We must try to use words that do not condemn. Our goal must not just be to correct but to love. Correction must always flow from loving. If our correction is no longer loving, we momentarily abandon correcting and go back to loving. This is the way with which we may hope for the principle of graduality to happen – that by our humble witnessing, even the most sinful may discover the path to Christ and walk it, gradually, towards conversion.
4. How do we help gays who are searching for the Lord? Definitely, we steer clear of demanding change as a prerequisite to love. We love – unconditionally – and pray that our love helps create the environment within which the gay person searching for the Lord may find Him. The process necessarily includes loving correction, which we start by having an authentic encounter with the gay person. This means engaging in a personal relationship with him defined by mercy and compassion, understanding and sharing of lives, witnessing and modelling of Christian virtues and values. If we succeed in mirroring Christ in the way we live our personal life, the Holy Spirit can most powerfully use us to bring people to God.
5. Some of us, hopefully many of us, choose this as our personal Calvary. But let us be mindful that, when we allow ourselves to respond to the call to New Evangelization in the special ministry of providing pastoral care to homosexual persons, we heed Pope Francis who warned us against the temptation of “binding the wounds without first curing them.”
Original post here.